Fostering innovation is imperative for any nation especially during this digital era we live in. social and economic challenges being faced can effectively be addressed through innovation. This brings to the fore the importance of providing the necessary support for young people. Africa is a continent whose current population comprises of 70% young people aged below 30. Thus if we are to see marked progress in tech advancements and innovation we must tap into the pool of young people. This is something that Old Mutual, through its various initiatives, appreciates quite well.

The Value Creation Challenge

About 10 years ago Old Mutual kick-started what’s dubbed the Value Creation Challenge. The main thrust of the initiative was to help nurture young people in their coming up with innovative ideas. In pursuance of that Old Mutual saw it worthy to strike up strategic partnerships in order to realize that vision. Thus they recently entered into a partnership with the British Council to launch the Value Creation Challenge last week. The challenge is a way to inspire, facilitate and support the addressing of socio-economic challenges through the use of digital innovations.

Partnership With Udugu Institute

Earlier I mentioned that they realized that the success of their initiatives would need strategic partnerships. In that same vein, they decided to partner with Udugu Institute in order to create B2C. B2C is an incubator and co-working space that they set up at one of Old Mutual’s properties. An incubator is an initiative or location that facilitates the conception, development and refinement of business ideas. A co-working space is a location set up in such a way that promotes diverse interactions amongst people pursuing various entrepreneurial activities in one place. The success of B2C is seen in two of some of its notable products namely, Golix and 263Chat. Golix is a bitcoin trading platform and 263Chat is a social media company.

As can be seen from these two major partnerships the results have been remarkable. Following the realization that partnerships are the way to go they decided to put together what’s called Eight2Five.

What’s Eight2Five?

The creation of new businesses and cultivating innovation for existing ones is the main focus of this initiative. This is hinged on the understanding that long term sustainability of people’s lives can be effectively achieved through promoting shared societal values. Data science is a major way that can be used to come up with solutions that address challenges and positively impact societies. The methodology this initiative will employ is the running of innovation challenges. Some of the other means will be through incubation of new ideas, acceleration of new businesses and the provision of co-working spaces. All this is directed towards digitization and the propagation of digital information and equipping people will digital skills.

How To Participate In The Value Creation Challenge

The challenge is open to any Zimbabwean between 18 and 35 years of age. The submission of applications is currently open running from the 1st of August to the 13th of September. You can get more information and ultimately submit your application on the Value Creation Challenge website. All submitted applications will be assessed by experts in the fields of business, innovation, incubation and startups. The top 10 winners will get mentorship, business support and free office space for half a year. Additionally, the top 3 will get seed capital to realize their ideas. I know there are many young and innovative individuals in the country so I’m encouraging everyone to participate in this.

There are some learning points to highlight from Old Mutual’s initiatives. First off, it’s important to place a key focus on young people because they are the secret to the future. The other learning point is on entering into strategic partnerships when pursuing any vision. That’s something any one of us, either as individuals or businesses, should emulate. The third takeaway is the importance of incubators, accelerators and co-working space. These are 3 learning points worth mentioning because they’re universal and apply to any initiative in any industry. I would be glad to see more financial institutions coming forward to come up with similar initiatives. If we are to see tremendous progress in home-grown tech advancements and innovations we really need this.