As the world gradually moves on from the Covid-19 year, one of the best decisions I made to begin 2021 was applying to be part of the Innovate for Africa (IFA) community. Innovate For Africa is a program that inspires and trains aspiring African entrepreneurs and then provides them with the opportunity to work at a startup with continuous support. IFA aims to create the next generation of African innovators while supporting existing innovators, thereby strengthening the whole innovation ecosystem.
During the 4 weeks of the Innovation Readiness Training, I learned to demonstrate innovation, collaboration, grit, growth mindset, and inclusivity and diversity. These are some of the values that aid in building up a successful entrepreneur.
The IFA community is a group of diverse individuals with varying skillset and backgrounds supporting each other towards self-development. For the month of January, I had the opportunity to learn and work with like-minds on sessions relating to personal branding, design thinking, strategic analysis and hard skills. Looking through the curriculum, I could see that the training was going to be fast-paced which would test our ability to imbibe grit!
Before I joined IFA, I knew a bit about design thinking but I did not know how practical it was for creating innovative solutions. Design thinking is a human-centred approach to creating innovative business solutions and can be divided into 5 stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. Collaborating on a 3-week long hackathon made me realize the importance of the entire process for innovators to create user-centric products. During the hackathon, I worked on a project where I applied the design thinking process to create a valuable solution called FarmSmart, a digital solution to improve agricultural practices in my country.
The personal branding curriculum was a significant part of my training. For me, it was a process of self-discovery. I had to dig deep to find answers to questions relating to my abilities as an individual. I crafted my career objective and included the skills I can offer an organization. This session helped in refining my brand and improving my communication skill.
Hard Skill Lab
As a software developer, I have always wondered how to add more value to the products I build for end-users, this led me to select the product management track in the hard skills lab. I had the opportunity to apply my skills as a product manager on a real-life project for Duma. I conducted user interviews, set out a vision for the product, created the product roadmap and timeline and created prototypes. I also got to meet a wonderful mentor, Ajoke Salaudeen who readily guided me through my project and provided constructive feedback regarding my work.
The innovation readiness training really helped me improve in many areas. I am proud of my ability to collaborate and communicate effectively in a team especially with the hard skills lab. I appreciate the IFA team and look forward to applying myself to developing Innovation in Africa!
Partnering with a startup like yours will be an incredible learning experience for fellows like Karen, IN ADDITION to helping your startup accelerate with passionate African innovators.
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