I used to think innovation was complex. Innovation is about looking around you to identify problems and proffer workable solutions to such problems. It is about looking at the status quo and trying to change it to better the lives of people. At the Innovate for Africa Innovation Readiness Program for January 2021 cycle, we were taken through several curriculums that have been classified into four which are;
Hard Skills Lab
Personal Branding Under this learning, I learned to present myself in a better way. I understood that I have so much in me but the inability to communicate it both verbally and in written form has limited the utilization of my potential. I learned to package my brand in a way that an employer will be interested in me and also give a summary of who I am in a way that my values can be identified by anyone at a glance. Additionally, I learned to communicate at workplace; such as sending emails, professionally expressing my feelings and opinions.
Design Thinking During the program, I learned to solve problems by applying design thinking principles such as empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing. I was made to understand that the design thinking process is non-linear. Using design thinking, we were to identify a problem as a group and proffer a solution to the problem. My group identified a problem which was: Youth need ways to land great jobs but they lack digital skills which are high in-demand. We used a design thinking process to ideate a solution called JobEase, a platform to connect entry-level graduate level with employees.
Strategic Analysis Strategic analysis was one of the exciting parts for me. I was opportune to analyze a company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). Also, I carried out the STEEPLE analysis and learned something very great in this process that gives you leverage on how to strategically grow a business. This made me understand what it takes to move a startup forward.
HardSkill Lab Learning what takes other people six months to a year to learn in only 4 weeks is a great fit. My hard skill lab track was product management. I learned the fundamentals of product management and used the knowledge to consult for a startup called DUMA in combination with my team members - Ibukun Ijiyera and Karen Ziboh. DUMA is Nigeria's B2B marketplace enabling entrepreneurs to buy and sell quality products through an integrated mobile app platform. This process was thorough for me but one of the IFA values which is GRIT kept me going. I couldn’t believe that I could get the job done in a short while. It was really an exciting experience for me.
KEY TAKEAWAY My key takeaway in the course of this program is that one should learn to adapt to different situations. I was paired with people whom I’ve just met within 6 hours to work on a project virtually; this was a very hard thing because we are all from different backgrounds. So I decided to listen more when people talk on the team to ensure that my opinion is not being forced on anyone. By doing this, I was able to work with the different teams I was paired with and we produced excellent outputs. Much more, great lessons were learned from the guest speakers sessions. It was an amazing experience because we had people who started like us sharing their story. For me, it was a moment of hope that if they could do it, I could do it better. Overall, the IFA experience is just starting for me as I join a startup to apply all I’ve learned. I will be one of those who will make IFA proud in the marketplace.
Partnering with a startup like yours will be an incredible learning experience for fellows like Meshach, IN ADDITION to helping your startup accelerate with passionate African innovators.
Sign in to our IFA Portal to see the range of talent that can join your startup today.