It feels good to say we finally brought it home!
Now, setting up a tech hub had not been an aspiration of mine prior to being introduced to this project. I had planned to teach digital skills over the next few years of my life, and I had in my mind my own approach to how we were going to teach digital skills (through Universities). I, however, was willing to explore the tech-hub option as it was mandatory. I knew in my heart that if I was going to set up a tech hub, it had to be done in Mangochi.
Here is the personal: Mangochi is home to me. I grew up here, and it doesn’t feel right to me to be serving other communities when I am well-aware my own community is excluded.
The statistical: There are 10(+/-) tech/innovation/entrepreneurship/creative hubs in Malawi, and none of them have been set up in the eastern region of Malawi. The eastern region has been severely left out in efforts to digitise Malawi, and I was interested in contributing to the closure of this gap.
In the first phase of the trainings, I was advised to set up the hub in Lilongwe, as I (being a first-time hub founder) would likely need mentorship from other more established tech-hub founders. Even though I did not get much mentorship from fellow founders due to likely their own busy schedules, I committed to teaching myself through research, learning as much as I can about what it takes to run a hub.
Over the past 6 months, we have run the Lilongwe Kwathu Creative & Innovation Centre, training 83 learners in various digital skills. Upon satisfactory performance, we were given the go ahead to set up a hub in Mangochi. We are now going into the second phase of the trainings, committing to train up to 150 young people in digital skills. 75 of these young people will be from Lilongwe, while another 75 will be from Mangochi.
In March, this year, I started pursuing my Master of Science in Entrepreneurship degree. I am currently working on my research, and my topic is: modelling information management systems for developing nations. I took interest in the digital divide, and have been exploring the factors and solutions for this problem in Africa. That is how Digi Savvy Africa was born.
Now the approach of Digi Savvy Africa is simple – we are creating an online platform that will serve as a ELearning and ELancing platform for youth in Africa, specifically focusing on Digital Skills. Understanding the access issues (computers and internet) in Africa, we realise the importance of hubs, and will be partnering with hubs and schools across Africa to deliver these trainings, as well as give youth access to the E-Lancing platform.
Thus far, we have set up one centre in Lilongwe, are currently in partnership with 3 schools, and will be setting up another centre in Mangochi in the next few months. We are open, and looking to collaborating with more schools and hubs who have “Computer Labs” but have no idea what to do with them. We come in with expertise, and perhaps internet access where required.
Bringing the digital skills training to Mangochi is the first step in the process of establishing the Kwathu Innovation & Creative Centre in Mangochi. I have bought some land, and will be starting the construction of the centre (with my personal funds) over the next few months. Interim, the digital skills trainings will be conducted at Excel Primary School, as we also learn the landscape of the Mangochi youth and entrepreneurs, and how we can better serve them.
We had not previously launched Digi Savvy Africa as a platform before, and the Makokola Retreat was more than happy to host us for this launch. We hosted a B2B – the Digital Skills Edition.
The launch event was patronised by PPPC representative Mr. Victor Funsani, and Mpemba and Makokola village chiefs, community school representatives, and the learners themselves. Digi Savvy Africa was particularly celebrated by the people, as a welcome development in the community.
I will be sharing even more exciting news about the Kwathu Centre in Lilongwe very soon.
All my love,
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