The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered normal business operations incredibly difficult. One moment it’s business as usual and suddenly most physical interaction in the workplace is prohibited. Our carefully constructed and thought-through way of doing business is thus no longer applicable or relevant.
To operate effectively during this pandemic, it’s been imperative to digitally transform our ways of working. It is thus safe to say that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the process of digital transformation across almost all sectors.
Our online accelerator programme with the UK-South Africa Tech Hub is one example of how the coronavirus has fast-tracked digital transformation. The 10-week online programme provides a structured learning experience designed to help youth entrepreneurs to ignite and grow their businesses effectively. Throughout the programme, participants are equppied with ways to enhance their entrepreneurial capabilities and learn essential business skills. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset, marketing, financial management, and leadership all form part of the process.
Over the initial 10 week programme, budding entrepreneurs enjoyed a series of virtual workshops hosted by experienced facilitators.
The Zoom sessions covered content on 10 key modules (one module per week):
Module 1: Entrepreneurial Mindset
Module 2: Purpose
Module 3: Ideation and Customer Validation
Module 4: Value Proposition
Module 5: The Lean Startup
Module 6: Business Model Canvas
Module 7: Marketing
Module 9: Leadership
Module 10: Funding your business
Each module consists of videos, downloadable readings, and activities.
The virtual workshops created an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to learn from experienced mentors, ask questions and share their overall experiences. Two peer group sessions were facilitated, providing the space for entrepreneurs to share ideas, strategies, issues and resources amongst themselves in an informal, relaxed space.
We believe that the peer group sessions were pertinent to the success of the programme. These sessions have proved to be a powerful form of learning as the interns learn by sharing their business ideas with others and gain knowledge by listening to other peoples’ ideas.
In addition, the entrepreneurs developed social skills as they discussed the impact Covid-19 has on their business ideas and the shift in consumer and business behaviour during the pandemic. They shared free resources that are available online, with a focus on website building programmes.
The online accelerator programme showcases the ability of the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (in collaboration with the UK-South Africa Tech Hub) to use technology to rethink our business in times of crisis and unprecedented uncertainty.