Business Modeling and Planning Workshop for the EARILab Grantees, at RAN held on 29th of September, 2015

In trying to increase the impact potential of the incubated innovations, the Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab (EA RILab) sought to equip innovators by gear-shifting their conscience from only technically appreciating these innovative projects to envisioning them as sustainable businesses. This aspect guided the workshop as the main objective. The Lab therefore with the support of the RAN Secretariat organized and delivered a one day business modeling workshop where Innovators used the Business Model Canvas and systematically worked on segments that included Value Proposition, identifying customers, key partners needed, resources, distribution channels, costs and revenues streams with the goal of creating a competitive advantage of their innovations as well as looking into the future and strategizing on the sustainability of the projects
The workshop brought together ten innovator teams (The Solar Pump, Bringing Back Traditional Grains to the Dinner Table, Village Egg Bank, Mushrooming Livelihoods, Better Farming Better Me, Matibabu, RAPID Solar Dryer, Maize Thresher, EDAD and the Push and Pull Technology) with at least three members per team. The facilitators included; Brian Ndyaguma, Ronald Kayiwa, Deborah Naatujuna and Harriet Adong. Participants engaged in active brainstorming, intra and inter-team interactions, and open criticism among other mindset changing presentations.

At the end of the day, innovator teams were capable of delineating their ideas to potential funders and also have strategies directed towards sustaining the projects beyond the “push-start” funding.

Learnings from this workshop;

• Value Proposition – How to make an elevator pitch using your project value proposition statements
• Actively listening and engaging your customers to find out what exactly they want in your product and how you should deliver it to them
• Gathering, evaluating and using customer feedback to make your product, marketing, and business model stronger
• Engaging your customers through the three phases of the customer relationship management lifecycle: get, keep, and grow
• Identifying key resources, partners, activities, and distribution channels required to deliver your product to your customer
• Calculating your direct and indirect costs for delivering your product
Participants were also taken through the RAN accountability processes stressing the need for clean and timely accountability of all funds disbursed to the teams. Additionally, they were able to define their projects, value proposition, who their customers are, how to reach their customers, breakdown of the costs and revenue streams-how to make money? All these fed into the Business Modeling Canvas for each innovator team as a deliverable.
A team from ORACLE including the Business Development Manager-Africa, Senior Director Business Development and Territory Manager Uganda too on their courtesy call to the RAN Office premises had an opportunity during the workshop to speak to the innovator teams. The Business Development Manager in her remarks emphasized the need for Communication skills, Mentorship and Networking during Business Modeling. She said to the workshop participants that “Look for all opportunities to network; you never know who you meet and where that will lead you. Always maximize that particular opportunity. She added that all innovators need to always critically think outside the box to remain innovative. “ Whenever possible, ask questions and do not make any assumptions. Fake it until you make it. Think business and you will make it” That was her additional advice to the innovators. The Territory Manager also noted that he and his team were proud to associate with Ugandan innovators and urged them to always aim at identifying a community challenge/problem and innovating around it. “Great innovators are problem solvers but do a lot with less and endeavor to see your idea through incubation to market” he added. That even the likes of Microsoft were all born from Innovation and so it is possible.