In this week’s edition of AfriLab’s hub featuring innovation centers across Africa, we head to Central Africa where we met Paul Mbua the founder of Zixtech hub a co-working and creation and acceleration space located in Cameroon.
Zixtech Corporation, another portfolio company founded by Mbua is a firm linking investors to entrepreneurs and building companies in Africa.
The founder himself is an Entrepreneur, Consultant, Trainer, IT Expert, Business and Development Expert having more than 13 years of experience.
He has worked in diverse areas of focus both locally and abroad.
Mbua is also the founder of Africa Business and Investment Summit and has trained and empowered over 5000 youths in the past 15 years in more than 16 African countries.
Zixtech hub has operated over 46 Acceleration and incubation programs in the Central African country.
In 2019, Mbua was nominated as International Partner to Cameroon for World Business Angels Forum and he has consulted for GIZ, IBM, Ministry of Communications Ghana Project and AFDB Africa Virus challenge in a business development capacity role for both.
Mbua took us through how the Zixtech hub is adding value to the country’s innovation ecosystem.
He explained that the driving force behind founding the hub was based on the need to bridge the gap while leveraging technology as a tool for development and social change within the community.
“Our driving force was entrenched in how do we use technology to accelerate development and maximize productivity.
We focused on building skills set and the capacity of entrepreneurs which is fundamental to the success of their ventures.”
Explaining further, Mbua said that Zixtech hub aims to achieve its mission and vision through technology, leadership, partnership and entrepreneurship as these are fundamental keys to development in Africa.
“We intend to achieve our goals through impact programs and projects that will touch the people and the community.”
According to the founder, hubs are active players in capacity building and skills development, offering programs and a platform to co-create, learn and share.
“Hubs are in partnership with local councils and are on the foot development partners and create the effects of development at the level of local communities through projects and ecosystem support programs.
Hubs offer a space to learn tech and provide tech solutions and also provide tech communities and other communities to strive.”
Innovation and entrepreneurship
Mbua acknowledged that innovation and entrepreneurship is growing and fast developing in Cameroon.
According to him, more Cameroonian youths are interested in tech and entrepreneurship which wasn’t the case 10 years ago.
“There is a new wave and breed of entrepreneurs that is been pushed out from the hubs and incubators in the country.
We see a 200% increase in entrepreneurship programs and initiatives.”
Cameroon’s reception towards STEM
On the country’s reception towards STEM and how it can be encouraged right from basic school, Mbua said that Cameroonian school has seen a quantum leap in STEM from the initiatives taken by hubs, incubators and private institutions, however, the country is yet to experience massive support from the government to the individuals who take these private initiatives.
On women’s participation in technology, the founder commented, “We believe it should be tackled from the level of the schools, primary to university level having more programs, role models, support programs that promote women in Tech. we have seen a massive leap but more is still to be done to get more women into tech especially Deeptech.”
Challenges and milestones
Describing the challenges faced by Zixtech hub, Mbua said, “we have a limited space to accommodate more entrepreneurs and resources to reach and impact more entrepreneurs and fund more ventures”
However, the founder stated that through the hub, more than 20 companies have been registered.
“We are supporting more than 30 Startups and are in the early stage of development. We have supported more than 100 entrepreneurs in developing their business models”
Government and AfriLabs’ role
According to Mbua, the first thing the Cameroonian government can do to assists hubs is to give access to the market whereby they can collaborate with the hubs as their local implementation partners.
“We have been active in the field for many years with little or no support and we are effective in creating impact and promoting employment and entrepreneurship in the community thus key implementation partner.”
Mbua added that the government can also provide facilities in terms of acquiring a space to support these entrepreneurs and tax breaks with grants to support programs and impact projects of the hubs.
On AfriLabs role, the founder explained that the organization has been a great partner.
“Since joining AfriLabs we have impacted more and reached more entrepreneurs. We just Concluded our Virtual Meetup program themed Building the Next Generation Entrepreneur through mentorship and coaching and this event was funded by AfriLabs through Virtual Meetup Grant and we reached more than 3000 entrepreneurs, this has been the role of AfriLabs in our journey.”
Mbua explained that the AfriLabs Learning Week has been key in developing capacities for hub managers to better support and produce effective entrepreneurs.