GESCI Awards to 7 Startups!

GESCI awards grants to 7 Start-Ups that were trained and mentored at GESCI’s Digital Media Lab in Nairobi, Kenya. Each start up received KSH. 203, 570.

The money will help the members of the start-ups acquire equipment, set up a small working spaces and get to grow in the entrepreneurship sector.

This team comprised of participants from the 2016-2017 cohort.The African Knowledge Exchange (AKE)- Creative media Venture is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland.

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TIPS FROM THE LIVING LAB RESEARCH #2: funding models

What: Organizations, innovation hubs, programs, and training projects are creating value beyond products  in multiple ways:

“(1) Through building a network for “collaborative knowledge exchange and research activities”, innovation hubs can help their stakeholders solve problems that they have defined, increasing the opportunities of co-creation innovation.

(2) In order to maximize the benefits for those involved, innovation hubs should play a role in accelerating the communication between academia and industries and encourage highly interactive “two way knowledge exchange”.

(3) By offering an environment to enhance the collaboration among people, innovation hubs would be able to support the economic, cultural and sustainable development for future generations.

(4) Innovation hubs can not only create communicating channels but also simplify the process of innovation by efficiently adopting existing knowledge, expertise and support from various stakeholders in order to make knowledge transfer spread widely.”

Source: The Modular Business Plan for the Creation of Design Innovation Hubs.

Needless to say, sustainability of training and innovation projects/programmes themselves is crucial in capacity-building for any field. For the GESCI-AKE model, we surveyed 14 innovation and training labs/hubs in Eastern and Southern Africa. In the majority of cases, international funders, either countries and/or businesses, are key to the sustainability of these actors. This is also the result of a research effort on Kenya. However, many of these hubs have developed co-funding and other sustainability mechanisms.

In general, it seems that the trend for sustainability for such hubs is that of social business, or the so called Fourth Sector; models that include multiple of sources and modalities of funding and sustainability. Here is a general overview of hybrids that may emerge in this Fourth Sector:

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How: Creating a business plan for innovation hubs, programs, and/or related  training projects is naturally a highly contextual effort. However, there are some concrete steps and issues that should most likely be included into modeling funding and sustainability.

  • Offerings – value propositions.  There are usually five main offerings that such a hub can offer:
    • Space
    • Event
    • Research – Training
    • Network
    • Making of products/services.
  • Besides donor funding and sponsorships, there are ten common streams of revenue for a hub / project:
    • Booking fee. The hubs charge money for space bookings.
    • Access fee. People have to pay to participate in an event or a network.
    • Membership fee.
    • Product/ material fee. Selling design products or relevant material in the hubs.
    • Tenant venue hire fees. Charge money for venue hire.
    • Brand license fees. Sell brand licenses to allow target people to use the brand logo in their own marketing activities.
    • Advertising fees. Provide a platform, such as an online website or presentation event for clients to advertise their products or services and charge for them.
    • Project fee. Charge to provide services for the whole project.
    • Intellectual property. Intellectual property as a resource to charge clients money.
    • Brokerage fees. Some hubs gain money through renting space from a landlord and subletting it as an office and network platform to target people.
  • A business plan for a hub or a related programme/project should most likely entail the following elements:

Key Activities  – and for each:

  • Value Propositions – what are the benefits for the activity for customers
  • Customer Segments – for whom the activity is targeted
  • Key Partners
  • Partner Relationships  – what are the benefits for the activity for partners other than customers
  • Key Resources – what is needed
  • Cost Structure
  • Revenue Streams

For detailed examples and further explanations, please see this useful report: The Modular Business Plan for the Creation of Design Innovation Hubs.

TIPS from the Living Lab Research #1: General organizational checklist

This checklist is based on the LL co-learning and co-creation processes of GESCI-AKE. Note that it lists core organizational issues that those projects have considered, and solved, but that may be very contextual, depending on the field and the kind of project at hand.

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  1. What are the innovations – business models to be developed? What kind of businesses are being developed in the programme/project hub? Is the model focused on creating start-ups (a concept focused on high capital commercial venture products) or also “creative” ventures, collectives based on other alternative strategies like open access / open content and sharing?
  2. What are your desired outcomes? Are all kinds of outcomes desired (products, services, media content)? If so, they may need different kinds of training and development processes.
  3. How to select your participants? How do your formulate the basic requirements for candidates? Do you choose individuals, or teams and team members? Can they be working (challenges of commitment)? Who chooses the participants?
  4. How to organize timing of curriculum? A three-phase model seems to work but sometimes phases may overlap; the model may need to allow flexibility for parallel and overlapping phases.
  5. How to structure your tutors’/instructors’ commitment? Per topic/segment? A project-long commitment?
  6. How do you develop overall terminology and common language for your hub/project/process /model for effective collaboration with all parties?
  7. How do you develop a clear understanding of how individuals vis-a-vis groups and terms are supported and mentored?
  8. How do you develop a branding/marketing/outreach strategy as the projects grow and mature? How do you market your hub/project/process vis-a-vis your participants? Where is the synergy?
  9. How do you utilize alumni as a resource?
  10. How do you develop a clear understanding of Intellectual Property Rights and “ownership” of content, ideas within the programme, by individuals, in relation to possible industry partners, and so on?
  11. How do you plan for any possible “post-project” tracking, as well as support, for the individuals/projects?

7+ Theses: Response from the Policy Forum

Based on the report by Mary Hooker of GESCI.

The seven theses on youth entrepreneurship that have emerged from GESCI-AKE Creative Media Venture have been featured in this blog in two posts: One describing the findings; another highlighting some expert reflections on the theses

The theses were also discussed at the AKE-GESCI 2017 Policy Forum on the 29th of March, 2017. The purpose was to converse about the critical link between skills development/ learning, innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise development and how a supportive policy environment is a requirement for national digitally-driven skills development. The Forum included demos, expert discussions, as well as an intensive teamwork – workshop session on based on the seven theses. In addition, an eight thesis was added to the list, that of employment and active job creation.

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This post is a summary of the essential policy suggestions emerging from the workshop and reflecting the theses.  Those insights highlight that, in fact, two theses seem to be the core foundations that define other aspects essential to youth entrepreneurship. Those are flexibility and collaboration.

For instance, it was noted that training needs to transform from a “course format” to an ongoing support that is flexible and responds to the growth and needs of the young entrepreneurs. It was also noted that the Hub needs to be an agile space, transforming as a response to different needs of the student, members, industry, and technology changes.

As for collaboration, it is important to note that the multi-stakeholder Forum was found highly relevant to one’s industry and work by almost every participant. The attendees of the Forum highlighted several forms of support to young entrepreneurs  that they would find beneficial for their company or industry, ranging from internships and mentorships to providing case studies and sponsorships. This is perhaps one of the most clear indicators that the GESCI-AKE model is working: It is approaching training the way that resonates with the ultimate “end-user”: Potential employers and clients.

Theses 1 & 2: Flexible Education & Context

Contextual, flexible approach to learning was made concrete by several practical suggestions. Perhaps the most tangible one the concept of project-based, problem- or opportunity-focused targeted projects as learning environments. But what should the opportunities or challenges to be solved be? For this, collaboration between sectors and stakeholders is a must so that the opportunities and problems can truly reflect reality. But what is needed even more fundamentally is a mindset change and advocacy for alternative educational-biz oriented models. Peer-to-peer learning, problem-solving, internships and mentorships need both financial as well as ideological support.

Theses 3 & 4: Digital and Physical Space and Entrepreneurship

Curriculum geared towards, and informed by ,the needs of the market mean that education includes life skills, interdisciplinary education, as well as access to digital tools. But only consultation and learning from policy, industry, research and practitioner chains can inform investment in ICT and new models and spaces for capacity building and training: Is the space reflecting what is happening in the industry? It is hard to imagine that any hub or organization could independently be able to create such a space, so, again, education and Business regulatory frameworks oriented towards start-ups key.

Theses 5 & 6: Collaboration and Finding a Niche

Collaboration is a science and an art form. Very few teams work creatively and smoothly without specific frameworks. Hence, education for youth entrepreneurship needs to include models of collaboration, projects,  and processes (including innovation ideas, prototyping, marketing, mentoring, partnerships etc.). In order for this to be “mainstreamed”,  new policies supporting upscaling and disseminating working models of edu-biz capacity building models (like the AKE model and its niche focus on Cultural and Creative Media industry) must be set in place.

Theses 7 & 8: Continuous Support, Employment & Job Creation

The shift  from “once-off-training” to continuous support systems for youth training and retraining outreach via models and labs linked to industry sectors needs leaders, leadership, in order to happen. One option suggested is a “value chain” of training, envisioned in the policy form as follows:

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GESCI-AKE Policy Forum 29 March 2017: Live Blog Here!

Welcome to the 2017 GESCI-AKE Policy Forum!

“An Inclusive Policy Environment for Youth Skills and Enterprise Development”

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#GESCIAKEPolicyForum2017
#YouthSkills
#EnterpriseDevelopment

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Opening Remarks, Jerome Morrissey, CEO, GESCI — on GESCI’s replicable model of #Youthskills and #EntrepriseDevelopment

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7 Startups Introduced!

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  • Artari Kreations
  • Verb House Productions
  • Boisch Enterprises
  • Ioniccode Software developers
  • Makossirri Entertainment
  • KIWO films
  • Tripple Touch Entertainment

Senior Youth Advisor , Directorate of Human Resources Science and Technology at African Union Commission, Nicholas Ouma:  

Innovation Ecosystem: What policies do we need to support cultural ecosystem?

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Functioning ecosystem: a nexus of policies, enterprises, and tools! Strategies can be shared and they can work all over the continent!

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Managing Partner at Chanzo Capital, an Angel Investor and developer of new businesses, Erick Osiakwan:

Talent is plentiful, opportunities not as much. The African context is special. Mobile leapfrogging is a major factor! It will affect every sector of the economy.

Young entrepreneurs play a central role in identifying problems and solving them! We need to create a net effect for Africa! We understand the challenges of our context.

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What is your specific niche? talent? specialty? Who is going to use your product? How to create value? What kind of investor do your want to engage with? Find someone who understands your field? Raising $: Don’t wait until the last minute! Also: Prepare well when you are meeting investors!

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Mary Hooker, GESCI: What happens when education, industry and policy design come together? Can GESCI Living Lab research of 3 years give some solutions?

[Presentation of the GESCI-AKE Living Lab].

How can we be sure that we INNOVATE with technology? Are we replicating — just adding new tech to do the very same? How do we ensure ongoing learning? –

Breakout sessions meet! Groups will discuss the relevance and impact of each of the GESCI-AKE thesis

Group 1: (moderator: Kamau Wanyoike)

  1. No One Solution, Or, Context Matters: SWOT of the Market Place
  2. Entrepreneurship Cannot Be Cloned: Education Must Be Flexible

Group 2 (moderator: Jane Muchiri -Ministry of ICT )

  1. Everything is Entrepreneurial: Teach Social Business and Communication
  2. Find a Niche: Cultural Competence Matters for GESCI

Group 3 (moderator: Ann Wanjuhi – Nelig group)

  1. Digital Matters, But So Does Physical Space
  2. No Success Without Collaboration: Policy, Industry, Individuals

Group 4 (moderator: Nicholas Ouma – African Union Commission)

  1. PS: Support Should Continue “Forever”
  2. Employment and Job Creation
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Snapshots from the Policy Forum

Inspiring stories from regional entrepreneurs:

Betty Kituyi from Fundi Bots (Uganda) an organization applying the concept of robotics training both in and out of African schools. Fundi Bots aims to create and inspire a new generation of Africans who are well equipped for technology oriented careers and who can be agents of change in their communities.

Wanjuhi Njoroge from Nelig Group (Kenya) a communications consulting company offering branding, online marketing and design to develop and manage organizations online and offline presence.

Silumesii Maboshe from BongoHive (Zambia) an innovation community and a co-working space offering aspiring enterpreneurs support for learn the basics of accounting, market research and running a business.

Young entrepreneurs need:

  • concrete support and scaffolds
  • diverse sources of inspiration (out of their comfort zones)
  • help in finding the right team
  • assurance that they are contributing (and evidence)
  • a safe space to fail… and learn
  • inclusive opportunities (=policies in place)

Thanks to everyone that participated and shared their insights!

To conclude and close the live blog of this policy forum, we share with you a bit of the last diagram we made for GESCI-AKE model.

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Best,

Minna & Andrea

Report from the field and the lab: Challenges and opportunities developing AKE ventures (Part II)

Things are wrapping up at the GESCI hub in Nairobi with the start-ups preparing for the last pitching event on the 28th and the Policy Forum on the 29th which will officially close the GESCI-AKE program.

The first pitching was used as a baseline survey of how well the Start-ups were prepared for fundraising. The judges of the pitching session where: Lydia Ndiho (Camscorp), Mitoko Dennis (14West film Production Company), Geoffrey Otieno (ADMI training institute), Duncan Onyango (AKE consulting Games tutor) , Tom Manda (AKE consulting Animation tutor), Victor Omondi (AKE’s Manger) and Jerome Morrisey (GESCI director)

Based on the emerging gaps identified on that event, the start-ups have been doing work around 3 themes:

  • Developing a viable business plan: Start-ups needed a more solid understanding of their market and emerging user needs.
  • Selling ideas in a clear way: Everybody was told to work and develop more effective presentation skills and to polish the resources they where using (e.g power points).
  • Pitching effectively: The Start ups elevator pitches were not yet up to standards and needed more work.

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While working on that we will share here some of the probes sent by the start ups this week. Thanks to all!

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Kiwo Films working at the GESCI-AKE hub

For Kevin and Ian from Kiwo Films the most challenging thing they are facing right now is “lack of equipment to get work done”  But they are confident they are “a team of reliable and dedicated individuals with a common interest“, which is a good and promising direction for the future.

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 Screenshots of some of IocincCode current prototypes, and an image of the team debugging together in front of the screen.

Mista from IonicCode reports that they have been conducting a bit of  research for their projects  “with the help of  our tutor Duncan who bought some cool kids text books where we got inspiration for various concepts. At the moment we are working on tap math game, a painting game, a pattern game and picture maker all in both languages Kiswahili and English. Right now we have to take them for testing to primary schools. As soon as the schools reopen we will be able to get enough feedback from teachers and from the school kids on how to improve them further”. The games are still in development phase and the team is constantly improving on them.

The IonicCode team feels that their biggest challenges are now. 1) getting good illustrations artists to add the African feel to their educational games. 2) recording the sounds needed for the games, as finding the right people to do that had been time consuming. 3) Of course the issue of bugs in some of the games. Coding is always tricky, but they are confident: “we were able to achieve the logic of the game, they  can be played in our devices!”

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VerbHouse’s value proposition, team and details from their current portfolio

 

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Snapshots of Makossiri’s web presence