In this edition of AfriLabs hub feature in the month of April, we head to the Southern part of the continent where we visited Jacaranda Hub in Zambia, we caught up with Mara Zhanet Michelo the hub’s Manager
Established In 2017 Jacaranda Hub also known as JHub is a social enterprise and ecosystem builder that develops young entrepreneurs through the provision of collective services, infrastructure, and specialized tools and equipment.
“We provide a conduit of resources and programs for aspiring MSMEs and Entrepreneurs with growth potential; all targeted at improving the StartUp/MSME landscape in Zambia.”
According to Mara, the hub also utilize available local and global resources to upgrade skills through training programs that can improve people’s lives, businesses and public services.
“Our mandate is to work with young people across Zambia and contribute to the nationwide socio-economic impact and commercial growth.”
Mara explained that the driving force behind founding the hub bores down to the rate of unemployment that is affecting Zambia and that is the reason the hub was birthed to foster entrepreneurship and also change peoples lives while helping to reduce the poverty rate in Zambia through various initiatives that the organization is involved in.
Stating further, Mara said that through hard work, dedication and keeping in mind why the hub was started, the organization is poised to achieve its mission and vision as this will be the hub’s driving force in accomplishing its stated objectives which include:
- Enhance collaboration and learning among young people in ICT and entrepreneurship
- Maximize the benefits for all stakeholders and drive value co-creation
- Efficiently connect young innovators with experts and peers on international platforms
- Support stakeholders in solving problems, creating business growth and providing socio-economic solutions
“Our mission is to use ICT to promote the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that enables opportunities for young people to participate in creating social-economic impact and commercial value.”
Innovation and entrepreneurship
On how hubs can foster innovation and entrepreneurship in their local communities, Mara said that this can be achieved by creating activities that involve participation from members of the community.
While on the state of innovation and entrepreneurship in Zambia, Mara noted that the people in the country do not receive the necessary support as it concerns innovation, this is always a discouraging factor to Zambians interested in participating in innovative activities.
On how STEM can encourage innovation in Zambia, the manager said that the country readily accepts the concept of STEM education in schools, especially for the girl child as they are the most vulnerable.
While also speaking on women’s participation in Technology and how can they be included, Mara, said that it is a necessity that women should participate in technology.
They can be included by allowing them have access to computers and smartphones especially in villages and rural areas.
Government and AfriLabs’ role
On the government role in supporting innovation hubs in Zambia, Mara stated that said this can be achieved through policies that support the hub’s initiatives and by helping fund projects.
While on AfriLabs role, the manager noted that “through AfriLabs, our organization won a grant that is helping facilitate investor readiness as well as mentor building networks through our project called the Mosi Tunya Pitch.
We have participated in webinars that include very educational topics that have helped our organization and connected us to different hubs within Africa like the GoDo Hub in Nigeria”.
Challenges and milestones
According to Mara the major challenge Jacaranda hub is facing is the country’s current economic situation coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in the midst of these, Jacaranda hub is currently running a program called the Mosi Oa Tunya Pitch that will help entrepreneurs become investor-ready and undergo mentorship to equip them for the next stage to sustain their business.
Jacaranda hub’s startup project
It is worth noting that the hub produces a startup Journal quarterly that gives insight into the business startup ecosystem in Zambia and Africa.
The hub seeks collaboration and expertise that would be content creators who can curate stories based on the theme of the quarter, agencies that would like to advertise in the journal for a wider reach around the continent, copywriters and translators.
The hub also has the “StartUp Villages”, an initiative with the aim of creating a comprehensive start-up ecosystem that facilitates the entire entrepreneurial journey from idea to funding, scaling and commercialization over a 5 year period.
“Our goal is to set up a Startup Village in all 10 provinces of Zambia and we have chosen to build the innovation ecosystem with refurbished shipping containers as building blocks.”
The program offers pre- and post-product startups with well-structured business development services and skills training program, mentorship, networking, co-working space, investor access, market penetration and seed funding opportunities to youths across the country
Jacaranda Hub Programs
Jac – Learn
This offers a safe and resourceful space with ICT facilities to promote digital education, financial literacy, creativity and play.
The dream is to build a child of 5 to 15 years to become the next generation ICT user and entrepreneur in embracing the transformation culture for a smart Zambia
Jac – StartUp & Innovation
Facilitating an entrepreneurial ecosystem program towards the development of innovation and business among StartUps and their transformation into viable Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
A network of set linkages to other Tech-Hubs and Accelerators to support research, design, development and market for youth startups and provide problem-solving solutions in creating new or incremental benefit for stakeholders.
Jac – Lifestyle
Inspiring the next generation of leaders, youth and communities to act for impact and progress. Every one person needs a guide, a mentor, support and inspiration.
Featured Image: Mara Zhanet Michelo, Manager at Jacaranda Hub
Don’t miss important articles during the week. Subscribe to techbuild.africa weekly digest for updates.