The dSkills Program, full name Digital Innovation for Business Resilience in the East African Community Program has successfully come to the conclusion of its second phase. The first phase was the Application phase which attracted 1,034 applications from the 6 East African Countries.
Of the 1,034 applicants from stage 1,954 successfully moved on to the Ideathon Phase. The Ideathon Phase kicked off on Friday 25th February 2022 with three zoom sessions. The first one was Kenya and Tanzania at 5 PM. 440 participants registered for this event and 270 managed to attend.
The second session was Burundi and Rwanda an hour later, a session that 320 participants registered for and 170 attended. Uganda and South Sudan sessions rounded off the day. 285 participants registered for this session and 170 attended. South Sudan also had the option of a physical Ideathon that was held at Koneta Hub.
The following day, classes began proper. On day 1, applicants were taught how to understand the problem that they were trying to solve. For every successful company, there is a problem it solved. People were tired of paying steep prices to stay in hotels, and that is how Airbnb came up. This is true for all startups.
To identify a problem, entrepreneurs have to talk to customers. The participants were equipped with tools to interview their target groups and how to fill in the insights sheet. At the end of this day, the applicants were able to form a problem statement and also describe their target group and core problem.
Day 2 kicked off on 28th February 2022. The participants knew the problem at hand, now it was time to discover the perfect solution for it. Desk research is not enough. It is better to spend time with the target customers and one will be able to get insights into the perfect solution for the problem. This is where the Value Proposition canvas comes in.
The applicants were taught how to fill it in based on insights from the customers. They were provided with a template so they didn’t need to design one. They also studied the Safeboda value proposition canvas. Safeboda is one of the most successful digital innovations in East Africa.
The final day was about making a prototype. There are various tools one can make a prototype with including Canva, which is one of the most popular tools. The importance of a prototype is that it helps an innovator to test their innovation before putting it out in the market.
This gives the innovator the flexibility to change their innovation as feedback comes in from the customers. It is useless to build something that customers do not want or find difficult to use. Customers want an easy and smooth user experience. Interacting with them is the best way to understand this experience.
How to qualify for the next stage
To qualify for the next stage, innovators had to show that they have understood what they have learnt in the ideathon phase. They had to complete the following assignments.
- Fill in the Interview insight sheet
- Fill in the problem statement
- Fill in the Value Proposition Canvas
- Create a prototype and test it
- Fill in the feedback sheet
As a bonus, the innovators had to record a 2 min video explaining their target group, the problem they are solving, their solution, and what they had done so far. They also had to verify that their solution is needed and customers will pay for it. It was also important to mention that they were the right team to accomplish this.
The deadline of submission for these tasks was Sunday 6th March 2022 at 10 PM EAT, but it was extended up to 7th March 2022 at 7 PM EAT to cater for some innovators that faced problems with submissions.
What’s Next in the dSkills Program?
The 10 best innovators per country are going to be chosen by a combination of Program country leads and an expert panel of judges. They will then undergo the physical boot camps which will be held in each country.
Uganda and South Sudan will be the first boot-camps kicking off on 21st to 26th March 2022 followed by Rwanda and Kenya from 28th to 2nd April and finally Tanzania and Burundi on 4th to 9th April 2022. Each boot camp will end with a pitch event and the winners will represent each country at the regional finals in May.