Old Mutual recently launched an innovation hub called Eight2Five. This is an Innovative Hub that partners with entrepreneurs to achieve a shared vision of solving real-world and business problems through technology. This is the culmination of something that started 4 years ago as just the Eight2Five Challenge. All this started as the Value Creation Challenge (which was done in partnership with the British Council) – this spanned from 2019 to part of this year. (The three winners of that challenge are already enrolled at the Eight2Five Hub). This was aimed at facilitating the rolling out of innovative solutions to local Zimbabwean challenges. It was with the Eight2Five challenge that Old Mutual decided to take it a step further. The Old Mutual Group CEO, Mr Sam Matsekete had this to say, “We found the initiative very valuable that in 2016, the group partnered Udugu Institute to create B2C, a co-working space & incubator at one of our properties…

The Birth Of The Eight2Five Initiative

The group CEO went on to say, “The success of the partnerships emboldened us to create a new entity called Eight2Five that focuses on driving innovation in the existing industry and creating new enterprises. Eight2Five will run innovation challenges, incubate new ideas, accelerate & grow new businesses, provide co-working spaces, among other things…

The Rationale Of Establishing The Eight2Five Hub

The rationale behind this initiative can be best explained by what the Old Mutual Group Head of Marketing and Innovation, Lillian Mbayiwa once said, “Without customers, we become irrelevant. Customer needs are continually changing. The product, service or idea we offer may be exactly what our customer needs today, but tomorrow they may need something else. To stay on top of our customer’s needs, we saw it fit to create a catalyst that will incubate our innovations. Through the innovative ideas the Hub will generate, we hope to see market changes coming from a distance so that we can provide solutions for customer problems before they even know they need them. You cannot meet the needs of customers long-term unless you recognize the importance of innovation and act on it. The Eight 2Five innovation Hub is meant to find and develop new ideas not only to keep our valuable customers engaged but also to steer the nation’s economy towards a brighter and more successful future.”

The Official Launch Of The Eight2Five Innovation Hub

On Wednesday the 18th of November, Old Mutual finally launched the Eight2Five Innovation Hub. The guest of honour at the launch was Kirsty Coventry, the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts, and Recreation. Some of her remarks during the launch were as follows: “Talent is equally spread but the opportunity is not. By launching Eight2Five, Old Mutual is creating an opportunity for young people, and it’s up to them to grab the opportunity with both hands and run with it.”

The Old Mutual Group CEO, Mr Sam Matsekete was also in attendance and the following to say, “Current times are changing very fast, demanding more to be done and achieved in less time. There seem to be more complexities, demanding more solutions. Therein lies the biggest opportunity of today: to innovate and continue to innovate solutions. Innovation should be the cornerstone of any organization that has the customer at heart. By innovating, we continue to create value for the benefit of customers and all stakeholders.”

A Closer Look At The Eight2Five Innovation Hub

The physical address of the Hub is the first floor at number 3 Anchor House, Jason Moyo Avenue, Central Business District, Harare. The hub will comprise 3 basic components that are typically found at a hub. These components are namely, a co-working space, incubator programs, and accelerator programmes. I believe brief descriptions of those 3 components will be helpful. A co-working space is a place where people from different backgrounds (e.g. individuals or employees from different companies) can share whilst they work on their respective tasks. Usually, co-working spaces will be just like an office working environment with things such as PCs, desks, offices, conference rooms and what nought.

An incubator program is a framework that fosters collaboration amongst startup entrepreneurs, whilst also providing them with mentorship in the early stages of their startup journey. An accelerator program is an initiative that provides entrepreneurs with access to mentorship and investors in a bid to establish their startups further. Accelerator programs usually run for a short term period e.g. 1 year.

A Look At Their Website

The Eight2Five initiative actually has a comprehensive website. When you visit their website you will notice that they have the following services namely, private offices, meeting or conference rooms, dedicated desks (shared office space for individuals or small teams), hot desks (for collaborative work or interaction), event space, and a café and coffee shop. The website also has a blog that features articles on related subjects. You can contact them for more information using the following email address: info@eight2five.co.zw. You can also call them on 800-123-456. You can just go to their website and explore it for yourself.

It has been remarked that hubs are central to the development of nations, especially in this digital era. One good example of a nation that has grown because of such hubs in Singapore. What Old Mutual has done is much needed in Zimbabwe. We need to see the emergence of more and more hubs.