The Southern Africa Innovation Support needed visionaries to rethink the business ecosystem in the region. We attended their call.

In August 2020, the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS) opened a call for “projects to pilot and validate solutions to make Southern African startup ecosystems more resilient and better able to face an uncertain future”. The context of the call was the fact that Covid-19 has revealed flaws in the worldwide innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. They challenged applicants to find these flaws and offer solutions to the innovation business ecosystem in the region, so it would become stronger and more resilient against adversities.

Promptly, Glowdom and Eduix, supported by the EDUDITRA project in cooperation with Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences started the discussion to create a consortium. Over the year, the group had already organized a webinar series to discuss about digitizing education ecosystem in Namibia. The webinar “Education in the world 4.0: bridging the gap between education and the market” counted with the participation of Hasekiel Johannes, the Innovation Officer of Namibia Business Innovation Institute (NBII). The moment we remembered how well aligned the webinar discussions and participation were, that was the start of our project consortium.

In order to approach the call made by SAIS, we saw the need to develop a digital business ecosystem in Southern Africa able to leverage the edtech infrastructure and education software development in the region. This realization culminated in the project “Edupreneurs: Networking and Empowering Education Entrepreneurs towards a resilient Edtech Ecosystem in Southern Africa”. During the making of the project application, Sebulon David (Glowdom CEO) reminded an African proverb that reflects a true testimony of a highly skilled and competitive diverse organisation:

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’

According to Sebulon, the teamwork and collaborative spirit were remarkable and allowed members of the consortium to complement each other very well towards a successful project application. Over the weeks of discussions among the consortium members, the collaboration was essential to understand what are the needs of the Southern African startup ecosystems and how we can make it stronger and more resilient in the face of adversities.

The application, then, aimed at solving challenges risen due to the lack of digital infrastructure and personnel with digital competencies, even more exacerbated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although there are a few relevant edtech solutions across Southern Africa, such initiatives still remain isolated, decreasing the potential of consolidating successes to the regional level. 

To tackle these problems, during the project implementation from January to May, we will scale up our modern business ecosystem, which consists of three interrelated elements: 1. a digital platform for strategic partnership, in which all stakeholders enjoy up-to-date information to employ data-driven decisions; 2. work integrated capacity building for business innovation and digital competences; and 3. a policy paper for knowledge transfer about best practices and lessons learned on how to build a resilient business ecosystem based on our experiences. 

Together, these solutions will be capable of solving the current problems in the Southern Africa edtech start-up ecosystem, because they give the digital infrastructure for business networking, capacity building for empowering stakeholders, and knowledge transfer for broader scalability. 

On Hasekiel Johannes’ (NBII Innovation Officer) impressions from the teamwork, he marked that

“Working on this application was not a walk in the park, but collaborating with the team that was ready and prepared to sacrifice their time gave me the courage and motivation to complete my assigned tasks. I am honored to be part of this revolutionary project. I look forward to make this endeavor a success for Namibia and the Southern Africa Development Community at large.”

Now the team is currently attending the SAIS 2 training for market validation and soon we will start getting our hands dirty on the work. Follow our news to know how we continue developing it.