umnandi - Empowering African Entrepreneurs

23 May 2017 6:05 PM | Dhruti Dheda (Administrator)

This April umnandi went to South Africa to conduct its first two workshops in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Umnandi, a nonprofit founded in late 2016, has the mission to provide young South Africans with practical knowledge, tools and motivation to pursue entrepreneurial projects that benefit their communities. The project was initiated by students of Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship, a university in Sweden, and implemented in collaboration with EWB-SA.

Over 70 participants attended the two workshops. The first workshop, held in Johannesburg, specifically targeted South Africans from low-income households. It was held in collaboration with Sci-Bono, which is a contact that was established by EWB-SA. The second workshop, held in Cape Town, was predominately attended by engineering students associated to EWB-SA UCT and Maties.

The workshops started off with the infamous “Egg Drop Challenge”, which required creativity, teamwork and hands-on construction skills. The participants were divided into competing teams. Each team received an egg, a budget and the chance to buy various materials like straws, paper and plastic cups, where each item had different price tags. The goal: Develop a solution to protect the egg from a five meter drop. In keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit groups were also challenged to keep their solutions cost efficient, quick and creative from a design perspective.

A key aspect of the workshop involved introducing and working through the umnandi 5 step model. This model was developed to help participants take an idea from conception to an initial planning phase. It forced the teams to apply newly learned tools, think outside the box and take various business-related topics into account. “Who should be my first customer?”, “Which stakeholders are important to consider?”, “How can I test my product, gather customer feedback and improve?”. By exploring these and other questions, interesting insights emerged and the ideas were refined, altered or merged.

Focus!” was a recurring theme during the workshop. In every step of the process, and particularly in the beginning, focus! Focus on a small group of customers. Focus on a few core features of your product or service. Discard aspects that do not contribute to this focus, minimize the overhead and stay lean. Once you see that you are on a good way, you can start expanding.

The workshops were full of energy and engagement. The participants identified key societal problems and issues in South Africa. Various creative processes resulted in thought-provoking discussions and revealed interesting ways to approach these issues.

Moreover, plenty of interesting business ideas were found and refined to a stage, where a first test-implementation would be the next step. It is now on the students to follow up and get their ideas out in the world.

Although for now the umnandi team is back in Sweden, we are looking forward to future workshops with new themes, more learning, and plenty of fun!

Thank you to our partners and supporters Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship (CSE), Engineers Without Borders South Africa (EWB-SA), Sci-Bono, SAAB and countless individuals for various contributions throughout our journey!

Follow us on social media and get in touch! @umnandientrepr

Written by Simon Geldner and Sammie Chimusoro


Empowering Engineers to Empower Communities

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