Despite having great ideas, students experience challenges formalizing their ideas and creating access to funds. These ideas consequently end up being wasted and the opportunity to chart a career in entrepreneurship goes to waste with the idea. AIMS is cognizant of the role STEM skilled entrepreneurs have to play in the development of Africa, and is committed to facilitating the development of their entrepreneurial skills.
The AIMS Entrepreneurship Week (E-week) is designed to counter those challenges students in STEM face, particularly around formalizing their business ideas and developing a business model which will facilitate access to funds, and improve the survival chances for these startups.
The activities of the week are tailored towards giving the students first-hand knowledge of the market and insights into the concept of design thinking. This training in Design Thinking will complement the technical skills AIMS students learn in their postgraduate studies, equipping them with creative problem-solving skills and a human-centered mindset. The hands-on learning experience will allow participants to practice what they learn by working on a specific design challenge in one improving existing livelihoods; enabling diversification of income, or Creating dignified and fulfilling work (jobs).
After defining the design challenge, participants will tackle it by moving from an idea to building something tangible that can be shared with others. At the end of the training program, participants will have developed/firmed up innovative entrepreneurial solutions ready to be pitched at a Final Challenge to AIMS industry partners and incubating programs.
“Ultimately, this program is an opportunity for enthusiastic young people to collaborate and create inspirational entrepreneurial projects that create economic opportunities and contribute to improving the lives of others,” says Teaching Assistant James Njong Jr.
AIMS-Cameroon is home to a diverse group of students who span a total of nine African countries. This diversity presents a unique business advantage, as startups ideas can quickly be explored across borders. Furthermore, the diversity presents a need for our training to be conscious of the differences in the business ecosystems across the continent. We must therefore make a strong attempt to teach across cultures, and across borders.
The Entrepreneurship Fireside Series is a sequence of zoom meetings that bring students in touch with key actors in the African business ecosystem. The students will learn first-hand from the experiences of the entrepreneurs and engage them in conversations about their desired paths. The online nature of the series opens it readily to international guests, which helps meet the desire to deliver entrepreneurial skills that cut across borders.
On Day 1 yesterday, Monday, November 1, 2021, the students were introduced to Design Thinking followed by a Group activity on business cases and a Fireside with 27-year-old Cameroonian-born Cedric Atangana, co-founder of WeCashUp which is a Pan-African Payment Platform that enables e-commerce businesses to accept and disburse payments in Cash, Mobile Money and Cards in 36 African countries.