Two complimentary, university-based organisations (the Southern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab and Limpopo Fablab), focused on identifying, developing and nurturing innovations in Southern Africa collaborated with the Polokwane Municipality Local Economic Development (LED) office and co-hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) celebrations in Limpopo Province of South Africa. The event was held on 25 November 2015 at the Polokwane Municipality Civic Centre. Participants included representatives of organisations involved in entrepreneurship with young people like the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). Over 80 participants were present to support the GEW celebration. By collaborating with other stakeholders in this event, the SA RILab leveraged resources and ensured political commitment and support from local authorities.
The key highlight of the event included an introduction of the Southern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab (SA RILab) projects implemented in Malawi (Chikwawa District), Zimbabwe (Beitbridge District) and South Africa (Dikgale and Pyramid).
The Guest Speaker was Polokwane Municipality Member of the Mayoral Council; Councillor Molepo standing in for the Executive Mayor.
The presentations made by the SA RILab student innovators focused on provision of education information to young people in the rural and marginalized communities in Limpopo, livestock feed production from the acacia karoo tree, moulding of bricks using recycled paper and household water use reduction through timed shower system. Young entrepreneurs supported by the Polokwane Municipality also made presentations of their ideas making it an event for young entrepreneurs to show case their innovations.
The key message from the presentations made was that the challenge with innovation is not the lack of ideas but rather limited exposure of entrepreneurs and innovators to environments that can make their ideas grow to impact their communities. The ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) approach of leveraging university scholarship and community knowledge provides the bridge connecting that community knowledge and opportunities for scale-up of such ideas for strengthened community resilience.
At this event, SA RILab took the opportunity to also publicise the launch of the Youth Spark Innovation Grant which seeks to support promising and creative ideas from students at RAN partner Universities across Africa to effectively tap into the immense innovation potential of students in solution development. See more details about the YSiG grants here