Local youth innovators competitive on an international stage

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and FABlab believe that technology and innovation are the way to develop, inspire and motivate young Namibians; a means to get them to be competitive locally, regionally but also globally.

Technological innovations can come from anywhere and given the right encouragement, mentorship and self-belief, nothing is impossible. This is certainly the case for girls, young woman and anyone aspiring to better themselves.
By supporting youth owned business and local innovation we can achieve this positive vision of the future and in turn help achieve Namibia’s goals of being a knowledge-based nation, with technology, innovation and entrepreneurship being major pillars and drivers of its economy.

Recently FABlab took this vision a step further and with its stakeholders and partners and created a session where a very accomplished and impressive all-female group joined forces to mentor and coach two of Namibia’s most promising young start-up enterprises.

FABlab, the innovative technology and design hub of NUST, hosted the mentoring session together with the Finnish SAIS programme in order to prepare the two teams representing Namibia on the international stage in Helsinki, at Europe’s biggest start-up event, SLUSH in December 2017.

Van Wyk, founder of Namibia’s first low-cost computing device, PEBL, emphasised the importance of a stimulating and motivating environment and acknowledged that through FABlab, PEBL had gotten a major boost: “This Is what dreams are made of; the experts were amazing and I could sense that they really want us to do well. Their comments and advice is just priceless!”

The female leaders represented private industry and equity as well as intergovernmental organisations, academia, public sector, local development support. Their power lies within the fact that they are all working at the top levels of their respective industries and know the trials and pitfalls of success.

The fact that they are willing to invest their time and share their knowledge with aspiring entrepreneurs is truly inspiring and valuable. The two winning innovators practiced their pitches and were given vital feedback by the women, nurturing their notions and asking tough questions which they need to be ready to answer.

They created a high-pressure environment for the entrepreneurs, just like they would face with ‘potential’ investors on the international stage.

Kirstin Wiedow, co-founder and director of NUST FABlab said: “This is truly remarkable, to see such amazing women leaders in their respective fields coming together to support local innovators, face-to-face, giving of their valuable time, sharing their wisdom and guiding out new generation of leaders to be the best that they can be. This is how we make change, you can feel that it’s something truly special.”

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