Stanley Ugwuoti is a young engineer driven by technology and innovation. Being a team player, Stanley was able to experience the Innovate for Africa (IFA) "Innovation Readiness" training which equipped him with the adequate resources and mindset of an entrepreneur.
"Having gone through the Innovation Readiness Training, I have become well equipped, despite the global pandemic, to launch into the innovation ecosystem, brainstorming solutions facing my immediate environment. What's more, I will have the IFA support for the next eleven months, guiding me as I take my first steps in the world of entrepreneurs, working with innovation-driven startups. At this point, I am confident to say that "the sky is my starting point."- Stanley, 2020.
The IFA team, consisting of experienced facilitators from Harvard and MIT, set to ensure that the fellows understand what it means to have an innovative mindset using well designed course modules. Stanley had a chance to not only learn how to come up with business strategies and design products, but also had the opportunity to apply this in an organised hackathon.
"My team comprised four members of diverse backgrounds ranging from economics, to physical sciences and engineering. We had a series of virtual meetings throughout the 48 hours of the event. We chose to delve into the plague-- waste mismanagement. With the training we've received so far, we proceeded from the broad view of waste management associated pain points, we narrowed down the problem to its root cause: delay in waste collection by the Management body.
Peering further into the details, we discovered from our #PrimaryMarketResearch that the regulatory body, which partners with some private waste collectors have a routine operational mode for collecting the garbage from the residences, office buildings, factories of their customers. The customers, in their turn, pay a fixed subscription monthly depending on the nearness to the dumpsites and the economic stratification of the area. The research provided insights to the weaknesses of the existing business model as customers unanimously lamented their dissatisfaction with the Waste Management Agency. This distaste is due to the delay in waste collection. To my utmost surprise, we developed a feasible solution within the given 48 hours. This, for me was an eye-opener and currently, we're in the second stage of the #LagosUrbanInnovationChallenge where we pitched our solution."
He also gained insights from the guest speakers made available and expressed this experience thus;
"Two lessons that would never leave my memory is the high-level point given on the orientation day. Dr. Anjali Sastry, a senior Lecturer, System Dynamics at the MIT Sloan school of Business told us that we should never get attached to our ideas, which would help us allow for constructive criticism. Also, she pointed out that as innovators, the entire itinerary of our solutions may not come from us, and so, we should think creatively from other industries. I held on to these lessons so much so that, I applied them barely two weeks later during the #Hackathon project... The benefits of having first-hand information from CEOs cannot be overemphasized. The guest speakers left us with the conviction that we are on the right track in achieving great feats in our quest for solving societal problems with innovation."
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