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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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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7 Theses, In Their Words

Last week, we wrote about the 7 Theses of GESCI-AKE Creative Media Venture for Youth Entrepreneurship: Context matters significantly; Entrepreneurial education needs to be flexible; Everything is entrepreneurial; Both digital and physical platforms matter; Your niche is important; No success without collaboration; and Support should be ongoing.

We asked internal and external experts in the field — of creative industries, media business management, youth start-up incubation, start-up PR, and corporate innovation — what they considered as key drivers of Youth Entrepreneurship. We were thrilled to find that our theses are also theirs.

Our warmest thanks to the contributors!

Now, let us know YOUR thoughts, and theses, as a comment!

 

1. No One Solution, Or, Context Matters
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Gregory Ferrell Lowe, Professor (Media management), University of Tampere, President of the European Media Management Association:

In recent years we’ve seen growing interest in the development of entrepreneurial activities, especially in the creative industries. There are reasons. One hinges on economic growth and development that entrepreneurial activity has produced. A large proportion of new jobs that are also good jobs, and fast-growth firms, are the result of entrepreneurial enterprise. Another reason is the importance of innovation as a new product or service that create new markets. A third reason has to do with the speed, scope and stakes involved with globalised economic competition. Entrepreneurial activities capitalise on the resources and talents of a particular population that produces competitive advantage. Finally, all societies are struggling with a degree of change that is profound. As a result, heritage systems and legacy structures are unable to meet the full range of societal needs today. Entrepreneurial activities increasingly emphasise not only economic development, but also social enterprise and environmental  sustainability.  It is important to understand that all of this is not only important in the West, but equally in the Rest. Actually, it is arguably even more important in the Global South than elsewhere because their populations are growing at an astonishing pace and the infrastructure has been so lacking.

What would be most beneficial for robust development of entrepreneurial activities in the creative industries and beyond? There are specific needs for a particular population, but at least three general needs are crucial everywhere. First, the societal structure must be conducive. This simply means the system of laws, regulations and institutions that govern economic activity must encourage and support entrepreneurship in practice to reap the benefits that can only be realised by taking the risks that are necessary for starting an enterprise. That is not easy because it often means reorienting values and changing bureaucratic systems that have vested interests. But this is perhaps the most significant and an on-going pre-requisite. Second, education and training are essential to prepare people to be successful entrepreneurs. It is essential to understand how business works, what management requires, the consequences of decisions and actions, processes of creative development, laws and regulations, and so forth. Finally, investment capital is an obvious need. Many entrepreneurs have more ideas than money to pursue them. Moreover, entrepreneurial efforts are often stimulated by necessity. People without jobs who need to earn a living to care for themselves and their families pursue opportunities to provide that can good business. But this can’t happen if they lack the capital to get the business started. Of course, all ideas are not equally good and everyone who wants to start a business would not be a good business person. So there must be vetting processes that sift the grain from the chaff. But access to capital is an absolute requirement for entrepreneurial enterprise, and that need is not only at the start but also at latter points when there is opportunity for growth to a achieve a next level of success.

 

Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

We need to employ action research/Living Lab research or whatever form of research in the creative industry programs so us to generate more narrative about the subject. Africa has no documentation about its creative initiatives compared to its counterparts  as many artist work on informal basis. There are no statistics of how much the industry makes, what makes that kind of money, where and to what level. It makes it difficult to valuate the industry’s worth.

 

2. Entrepreneurship Cannot Be Cloned:

Education Must Be Flexible

 

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Tom Manda – GESCI-AKE Master Tutor:

My top three recommendations for boosting youth entrepreneurship are

  • Schools boosting and training students to be entrepreneurs;
  • Schools promoting and developing talents at an early age;
  • Youth taking time to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives and what they can offer.

 

Eleni Atsikbasis, film-maker, audiovisual entrepreneur, environmental start-up developer:

My top 3 recommendations for boosting Youth Entrepreneurship in organisations:

  • Being open to listen…
  • Being open to engage..
  • Being open to create opportunities for Youth Entrepreneurs to implement solutions and take ownership of challenges as they grasp their role is to take action on a local level.

On an individual level – it’s our duty to be the crank handles, the starter-uppers for sustainable impact that contributes to our collective identity…that has the potential to solve universal challenges!

Duncan Onyango – GESCI-AKE Master Tutor:

At the individual level developers or creators should start building innovative solutions that are applicable to real world problems. I think some of the problems we have can easily be solved by innovative solutions that do not require government intervention.

 

3. Everything is Entrepreneurial:

Teach [Social] Business and Communication

 

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Liam Caffrey – GESCI-AKE Master Tutor, Music Producer & Technologist:

My top 3 recommendations for boosting youth entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneurs should be encouraged to…

1) Be original and creative by being themselves and having a ‘can do’ attitude

  • First-time entrepreneurs should focus on what they are passionate about and stick to what they know best. If your heart isn’t in it then the chances are you won’t be a success.

2) Be clear about what the focus of their business is.

  • Be able to explain the key idea of your business in less than 30 seconds to capitalise on a chance meeting with a potential investor or customer.

2) Strictly manage their financial situation

  • Act like a startup and manage your cashflow. Make your business idea achievable and affordable to start off with and grow from there while managing all costs closely. Find ways to improve your business idea while expanding.

 

Keoni DeFranco, Founder & CEO of the startup Lua: Secure Messaging for Healthcare:

Incentivize young entrepreneurs to build: Offer a hack-a-thon with a price or have the state propose a current problem they are facing that can be solved with innovative technology (ie infrastructure) and hold a contest for the local community to come together and pitch ideas to solve it. Award the top 3 ideas and give them resources ($, facilities, mentors) to pursue these ideas and present them at a present time. Make the “demo day” publicly accessible so you inspire more people to engage next time around. Pick a winner, fund them and eventually give them access to test their new product with real users in the field.

 

 

Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

There  is need for a mandatory pre-training and upskilling for all potential startups prior to issuance of startup funds. This should be a minimum requirement by venture capitalist and startup funders.

 

4. Digital Matters, But So Does Physical Space

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Keoni DeFranco, Founder & CEO of the startup Lua: Secure Messaging for Healthcare:

Give access to facilities (workspaces) and mentors so these youth can gather somewhere to meet other like minded individuals to brainstorm on ideas and take them to the next level. Give them close mentorship so they can learn how to iterate their ideas on the fly.

 

Lee-Anne Ragan, President, Rock.Paper.Scissors Inc., Corporate Training

In my experience it’s critical to ‘walk our talk’ – that is weave ICTs into all of our learning materials, pedagogies, pre & post engagement strategies for learners, transfer of learning strategies, and so on. We often talk about ICTs as a discreet, siloed pieces of work – that is for use in marketing, for teaching etc, but we don’t have a holistic, integrated approach, which I recommend for using ICTs for:

  1. Listening & research; using ICTs to listen to our stakeholders and efficiently do our homework aka research;
  1. Learning & communication; using ICTs in a way that matches what we know about learning and engagement, rather than outdated pedagogies that are top down, expert driven and ineffective (for example, “watch this video and answer these 3 questions”);
  1. Ease & efficiency; the world is a constantly changing place where information overload is rampant.  Strategies for using ICTs to bring ease and efficiency is critical, in order to do more of #1 & #2.

 

Miroslav Polzer, IAAI-GloCha, Executive Director, Social Entrepreneur in technology and youth employment

  1. Provide an easily accessible networking and capacity building space (Innovation Hub, Living Lab…) where young people can meet peers and learn about the combination of social design, technology and business solutions for meeting individual needs or solving social challenges  
  2. Create a (ideally globally coordinated) local enabling ecosystem (in combination with 1.)  which provides access to internet, technology, funding and potential customers
  3. Mentor youth!

 

Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

I agree: Physical space is essential. It does not matter whether it is in a closed location/hub like the GESCI’s AKE or iHub, but it could also be created by provision of physical internet access infrastructure such as the wide area coverage as witnessed in Uganda’s digital drums for the off-grid communities and through Kenya’s rugged innovative BRCK technology. These technologies allows provision of enriched Entrepreneurial training and access of online support tools.

 

5. Find a Niche

 

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Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

There is need of community outreach and awareness campaign amongst the community of web users about the availability of certain web based and mobile based products. This will spur the growth of demands for these products. The awareness campaigns would also connect the relevance of  an innovation to a community problem.

 

6. No Success Without Collaboration

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Victor Omondi, GESCI-AKE Manager:

Establishment of a creative media alliance focusing on three key areas of Knowledge provision (as played by GESCI), Products and service provision as provided by our industry partners like Tsunami Studio and Environment as taken care of by policy partners like the government and INGO (International Nongovernmental Organizations).

Curriculum and training content to be modeled with the help of the existing industry partners who answer to a particular trade or market niche. 

 

7. Support Should Continue “Forever”

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Keoni DeFranco, Founder & CEO of the startup Lua: Secure Messaging for Healthcare:

Give access for entrepreneurs to share their past and current experiences. Nothing exciting the youth more than hearing success stories and the struggles it took to become successful. Host panel discussions or fire side chats (even if these have to be remotely) but allow startup stories to be shared and allow the youth to engage and ask questions.

 

Lessons from Value Propositions

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Two weeks ago we asked you to create a Value Proposition for your start-up. We wanted to know where you are at right now, soon ready to pitch to clients, who your envisioned customers are, what the “value” of your product is, and how you differs from other companies — what makes you special!

Thank you everyone for your submissions!

1. General Observations

  • Many of your start-ups work in several fields of cultural industries.
  • If not, then your start-up is “multi-skilled”, i.e., your product relies of many fields of expertise.
  • Most of you note that you fill a “niche” that has not been addressed: Be it unique service, or the quality or the product, or your delivery format.
  • The more concrete you are, the more convincing you are. For example, ARTARI has a very concrete, engaging description of what they do and why they are different (gap): 

    WHY US

    We aim to provide Africa and the World business with an authentic voice bank because we identified a gap and need in Africa that SAUTI will bridge and make it easy to access African voices and traditional sound bank (Africa music beats, and movie scores in Africa) unlike from the usually expensive  platforms offered by agency companies.

2. Tips for Further Action

  • You can use your Value Proposition for creating any kind of content: Website, social media presence, pitches when you meet the clients. The bottom line is: You should be able to say in one sentence the core of your Value:
  • For —– For young creative talent of animation, sound design, and game design
    who —–  who are interested in honing their digital and business skills
    the (name) — GESCI-AKE Creative Media Venture
    is a — is a training and incubation program
    that — that helps you to take your talent to the next level:
    Unlike — Unlike many start-up hubs focused on technology
    Our product — we value local cultures and get inspiration from them.

 

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