On Wednesday May 25, 2016, the RAN Team conducted a Business modelling workshop at the Southern Africa RI Lab offices in one of the lecture halls of the University of Pretoria. 5 RIC4FIG Grantees and 1 YSiG beneficiary participated in this workshop. The session was moderated by Dr Roy William Mayega, RAN Deputy Chief of Party and Co-facilitated by the rest of the RAN team in attendance. Participants were taken through Introduction to Business Thinking. In this session,participants were required to articulate the key principles of Business Thinking; fill in the business model canvas and lastly, pitch their draft business models to fellow innovators and RAN facilitators. The presentation also included a discussion on Failure modes of Business models and why businesses in Africa fail. The business model canvas comprises 3 components namely the social value, market value and the business strategy. The social value looks at the social/ environmental need that the innovation is  addressing;   the market value assesses market demand or gap that the innovation aims to meet while business strategy looks at what the offering is and what determines whether the customer will pay for it or not? Participants were given an exercise on Business modelling and asked to pitch their filled out draft business canvases.

During the session on introduction to effective pitching techniques, participants benefited from a mock Pitching Session where they were asked to abruptly pitch their project to potential funders who display a range of characters e.g. very busy, impatient, proud and arrogant. The key learning lesson was that at all times innovators are required to always be ready. The sessions were highly participatory and gave the RIC4FIG Grantees an opportunity to look at their projects in a Business Ecosystem which is a dynamic sea of partners, customers, competitors, resource flows and constraints.

Thursday May 26, 2016 saw the RIC4FIG Grantees make presentations on the progress of their Needfinding activities in their target communities.  The session was very engaging characterised by Feedback and Discussion. The RIC4FIG projects included Goats for Prosperity (G4P) in Digkale, Food Security for Every Family Innovation project that is introducing a series of water pumps for irrigation in Chikwawa, Malawi while the projects being implemented in Beitbridge, Zimbabawe included Baobab for dollars (B4D), the Mobile Solutions for Marginalised Communities (MOSMAC) and the Mopane worms for Improved Income Generation byRuzivo Trust. A key learning is that many projects are operating in the same target communities (Beitbridge and Digkale) and there are many potential synergies running across these projects which can be drawn out and clearly mapped to ease implementation. Additionally, presentations were made on what next after Needfinding. The key output of this session was an assessment of how the insights obtained from the community during the Needfinding exercise are being used to refine their prototypes in order to design community-centric innovations, innovations that address the actual needs of the community. Discussions also rotated around how to manage community expectations as well as outputs on community engagement where the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) indicators were discussed in detail. During the evening session, participants were tasked to participate in a more hands-on Community Co-creation exercise. The day was concluded with debriefs, reflections and recap from workshop participants.

On Friday May 27, 2016 RIC4FIG Grantees were engaged in a hands-on activity on MKITS development.  Participants were taken through the rationale of using multi-media (photos, videos, audio) for documentation as well as an Introduction to MKITS production which was divided into pre-production, production and post-production. Thereafter, they were asked to develop a storyboard and film raw videos, capture still photos, and record audios which they would later process into short 3-5 minute MKITS (short informative learning videos).  A key learning from this exercise is that it is very time-consuming but a strong way to pass on information.

The Youth Spark Innovation Grants (YSiG) awards ceremony was held at the MakerSpace in the University of Pretoria Southern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab during the evening of May 27, 2016. The function was moderated by Dr. Flavia Senkubuge, Program Director at the School of Health Systems and Public Health (SHSPH) at the University of Pretoria and RAN Faculty. Staff, Faculty, Deans and Deputy Deans all turned up for this awards ceremony, showing strong commitment to the SA RI Lab. Prof Olalekan Ayo-Yusuf, the SA RI Lab Director shared about the RAN SA RI Lab and Youth Spark Innovation grants whilst acknowledging the presence of the RAN Deputy Chief of Party, Dr Roy William Mayega and Prof. Norman Duncan among other distinguished guests.  The 6 awarded Projects included Nubrix (making bricks from recycled paper); Asthma Grid, Consumer preferences and willingness to pay for improved cook stoves in Malawi; Each 1 Tshwara 1 Re-Integration services and Potential use of biological soil crusts and silicate on the rehabilitation of gold mine tailings. The YSiG beneficiaries’ awards ceremony was followed by an Induction workshop for the newly awarded YSIG students held on Saturday May 28 2016. The participants were taken through the M&E expectations of the YSiG Grant; how to develop their project Theory of Change (TOC) and M&E plans and a clear understanding of the requirements for conducting a community Needfinding process. The time allocated to this exercise was not enough and a vital recommendation provided was for the SA RI Lab team to have a one-on-one meeting with each of the projects to discuss in detail the key areas highlighted above.