By Alex Grady
After going through a rigorous selection process, you are accepted as an IFA fellow. So, what’s next? You might have read about IFA’s Innovation Readiness Training, but what does this look like exactly?
In the IFA Innovation Readiness Training, you will sharpen the skills you need to succeed in a startup environment. Beyond this, it is a unique program that brings together link-minded innovators and truly unlocks their potential. Having recently created an online course for MIT around social entrepreneurship, I was excited to work alongside MIT and Harvard graduates to design a four week course teaching key innovation skills and mindsets and create a community of passionate young people wanting to make an impact in their communities. Here is a general summary of what you will learn in this intensive training:
You’ll learn how to use a wide range of idea creation techniques, utilize experimentation to refine and improve ideas, and view failure as an opportunity to learn and innovate. These learning objectives are emphasized in our Design Thinking Curriculum, during which you will work in a team to create a prototype of an innovative solution to a problem.
Throughout the whole training, you will ALWAYS be working in teams in which you’ll learn how to align everybody towards a common goal, manage projects, communicate through different media and technologies, and articulate your ideas to a group. In addition, you’ll explicitly learn these skills in our Project Management and Communications Curriculum.
Through our Strategic Analysis Curriculum, you’ll learn how to use systems thinking, prioritize critical problems and identify root causes, research, evaluate risks, formulate a strategy, and implement an action plan. By looking at case studies, you’ll be able to practice these skills that can be transferable in any role.
Lastly, IFA builds leaders. After every project, you will be able to reflect on the group process so that you can continually improve as a future leader. In our Personal Branding Curriculum, you’ll discover who you are as a leader and how to communicate this.
Hard Skills Lab (Digital Marketing, Product Management, or Data Analysis)
We believe that soft skills need to be anchored by a hard skill. Before you begin your Innovation Readiness Training, you will choose which track you would like to specialize in: digital marketing, product management, or data analysis. You will sharpen these skills with projects that you can always put on your portfolio to show your future employers what you are capable of doing.
But I believe that the true value in our Innovation Readiness Training isn’t necessarily the knowledge or lessons from our curriculum, but rather the experience itself. The most rewarding part of the program is joining a group of smart and passionate individuals who want to make a difference and the group design challenges highlight what is possible when young visionaries come together to tackle difficult issues. During the pilot program’s Design Thinking hackathon fellows developed and pitched solutions related to healthcare and waste management. As a result of their work, our waste management team was accepted into the Lagos Urban Innovation Challenge. In this sense, our IFA Fellows are learning what it means to be adaptable leaders that will shape them to be future founders, contributing to our vision that development in Africa will be powered through innovation.
I’m looking forward to seeing what innovative ideas the new January 2021 cohort will bring to the table. While it may be a new mixture of different fellows, they are nonetheless intertwined by the passion for innovation. Hope to see you in January!
Learn more about our program at our website: https://www.innovate4africa.org/
Apply to be an IFA Fellow: https://www.innovate4africa.org/fellow
Become an IFA partner today to hire a fellow from our future cycle: https://www.innovate4africa.org/hireafellow
Together we can inspire the next generation of innovators.