The Innovate For Africa fellowship is one of the best opportunities that I've come across in a while and I am so grateful that I made the best of it. I was part of the ingenious trailblazers that took part in the January 2021 innovation training. The fellowship itself is to last for a year but the Innovation Readiness Training lasted for only a month. During this short period, we were trained on the following courses; - Design Thinking - Personal Branding - Hard Skills -Strategic Analysis.
The result of the training, in summary, is a life-changing mind shift which has made me see that the only constraints that can truly tie an entrepreneur down are the constraints of the mind. The core values of the IFA were drilled into our hearts and minds by the facilitators and now I have adopted some of them as my personal core values also. These character-building values are grit, innovation, a growth mindset and diversity and inclusivity which extols tolerance, empathy and patience with our fellow humans.
I have learnt to be resilient and to push towards the goals I set for myself regardless of the limitations and constraints I may face. This ability was exemplified during the hard skills project. The project was the first time I'd ever try my hands at data analysis. There were a lot of things to learn and a short delivery time even though I had a grasp of the programming language to be used. The fundamentals of statistics like regression analysis were things that I had to learn to provide an appropriate result. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place because I had other deliverables from other courses too that needed attention. I had to burn the proverbial midnight oil and work longer hours, sacrificing sleep to get the results required. At the end of the day, with the collaborative effort of my team members and mentor; Anais Vaillant, we were able to deliver a reasonable result to our Client, Splitspot. However, the growth mindset I have imbibed from the IFA has made me continue my quest for knowledge in this area, and very soon I know I'll be an expert in data analysis. Collaboration during the design thinking process has made me more empathetic and tolerant. Even though I had prior experience in working with teams, one trait that I lacked was the ability to empathize with people. During this training, I was losing my patience with one of my team members because I felt he wasn't taking his role seriously. It was until he explained to the group some of the constraints he was facing that I understood the issues he was passing through and realized that he had been trying his absolute best to meet his deadlines. I felt bad about how I thought of him in my mind. Luckily, I didn't make my initial thoughts about him known. I immediately had a mental mind shift from one of criticism and empathy. We helped each other out where we needed help and we went on to have a wonderful presentation and an ingenious prototype to solve the problem of financing in the agricultural sector in Nigeria; FarmSmart. I also learnt from the wealth of knowledge of the various entrepreneurs who spoke to us during the training. I say a big thank you to them for sharing their wealth of wisdom, knowledge and experience with us. One of my favourite speakers was Chiedo John from Github who told us of his entrepreneurship journey and the mistakes he made during that time. He admitted the mistakes he made and he also told us clearly the path he has chosen to follow in the present stage of his life. He was deliberate and focused on his intentions and goals and that was what I liked about him. I also appreciated his truthfulness and humility. I will forever treasure the memories of the Friday socials and the many relationships forged during the training. I have joined a community of fellow innovators and I can't wait till we truly build innovation in Africa with the skillset we have been able to acquire during the training.
I want to say a big thank you to the entire team of the Innovate for Africa Fellowship. You truly are making a big difference in our lives and I hope you continue with the good work you're doing. I am very confident of the team's ability to expand their program across Africa within the next few years. I'll always cherish the memories and lessons gotten from IFA. Keep up the good work!
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