In this week’s edition of AfriLabs hub featuring innovation centres, we met with Josiah Kwesi Eyison, the CEO and Co-Founder of iSpace Foundation, an innovation hub based in Accra.
The hub supports tech and creative startups and entrepreneurs through technology, business, entrepreneurship training, mentoring and a co-working space.
Founded in 2013, iSpace offers access to Funding and other facilities for entrepreneurs and startups to launch and manage their business ideas.
After the launch of its first community space in 2013, the hub again launched its code school in 2014.
In 2016, iSpace launched an all Women’s Training program Unlocking Women and Technology focused to build capacity for women.
In the same year, the hub hosted AfriLabs’ first annual gathering and initiated an all startup tour to Keta in the Volta Region to build the capacity of young entrepreneurs.
In 2017, iSpace hosted German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to interact with Startups in the Ghanaian community. My Doc Gh, a startup from the hub participated in a global mentorship and accelerator program in Berlin Germany.
In the same year, iSpace partnered with 6 hubs to host Unlocking Women and Technology Nation Wide Program.
By 2018, the hub expanded to enable community members to easily access the Hub.
The journey above has been quite remarkable for the CEO, however, before he devoted his work full-time to iSpace Foundation, Josiah served as Business Development Director at Learning Without Frontiers, a global platform for disruptive thinkers and practitioners from the education, digital media, technology and entertainment sectors whose clients included Apple, Samsung, Nintendo and the UK Government.
In addition to being a positioning consultant and having varied work experience across sectors ranging from Entertainment to Technology, Josiah has worked with global lifestyle concierge services both in London and across Africa.
Josiah explained that the driving force behind founding the hub was birth out of the need to create an enabling environment for Startups to meet, create and network.
Stating further he said that the hub is achieving its vision through innovative programs created for startups through community engagement.
Innovation and entrepreneurship
On how hubs can foster innovation and entrepreneurship in their local communities, Josiah commented that hubs serve as a nexus point for the local start-up community, investors, academia, technology companies and the wider private sector with the aim to create a structure where people serendipitously interact with others that they would not typically meet.
While on the state of innovation and entrepreneurship in Ghana, the CEO said, “the government has a dedicated ministry for business and entrepreneurship, this has helped in supporting innovation hubs, innovators and facilitating engagements directly with entrepreneurs.”
Challenges and Milestones
Concerning the challenges faced by hubs, Josiah stated that like most ventures, the challenges common to them all have been the cost of infrastructure.
However, iSpace has provided its community with funding, MVP development, domain registration, business registration support, access to investment, a reliable mentor network and a conducive workspace.
According to iSpace’s website, in the last three years, the hub has supported thousands of startups from ideation stage to Incubator with its membership cutting across Africa and the UK.
Government and AfriLab’s role
The CEO said that the government can assist hubs in Ghana through the implementation of policies that create a conducive environment for the growth of businesses.
iSpace hosted Afrilabs first annual gathering in 2016 which shows how much the hub believes in the vision of AfrilLabs and the power of the coming together of African Innovation Hubs.
“Through AfriLabs, a lot of hubs have had access to implement innovative programs for their startup community.”
STEM and women’s participation in tech
On Ghana’s reception towards STEM education, Josiah said that it has played a major role in developing countries with Ghana as no exception.
“The government has currently incorporated more practical ICT learnings into the curriculum which is the first step to embracing technology at basic school.”, he added.
About women’s participation in technology, iSpace has been at the forefront of women in tech.
The hub’s flagship program, Unlocking Women and Technology has played a major role in supporting women to learn to code, access business development training, providing mentorship, providing funding for female founders.
iSpace female entrepreneurial community cuts across Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and the United Kingdom.
“Our community is made up of a diverse group of female developers and creatives through the impact of Unlocking Women and Technology program”
Community and startup support
iSpace creates startup communities to help spur entrepreneurs to build new businesses and provide them with educational resources, working space and access to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
Local and global network
The hub links stakeholders, startups and investors in the ecosystem to resources across local and global communities.
iSpace of community members have a pulse on the velocity of startups activities.
Tailored support program
The hub designs and runs capacity-building programs for its members and the startup community. From experienced facilitators, mentors and top-notch speakers and experts, iSpace curates opportunities tailored to startup needs.
Featured Image: Josiah Kwesi Eyison, CEO & Co-Founder of iSpace Foundation
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