The #SANBioLabHack2018 took place in Pretoria, South Africa, this week with 17 undergraduate students coming together to turn their passion for innovation by addressing afro-centric solutions to common lab issues.
Aimed to bring the ideas and ideology of the open hardware movement to the African education community, LabHack opens up opportunities for equipping labs in novel and sustainable fashions by facilitating the open design of key laboratory equipment.
When asked what inspired their prototype, Team Zimbabwe captain and NUST Electronics Engineering student Clifford Mutsave said the team wanted to live up to their name, Young Inventors.
According to the team, the best centre in Zimbabwe only has two PCR machines mainly because they are very expensive.
The cheapest PCR machines on the market cost in the range of forty thousand US dollars and are thus often unaffordable by the institutions offering science and technology education, resulting in students lacking a practical exposure to how these kinds of equipment are operated.
In high school we were also victims of theoretical lessons on how to operate the lab equipment, resulting in a lack of overall appreciation on how to use these pieces of equipment. As NUST students who have their country at heart – especially young scientists in the high schools – we have come with a design of a low cost and economic yet effective PCR machine,” Mutsave states.
Mutsave’s team also included Applied Chemistry student, Miriam Guni – the only female participant in the group – and Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering students Ropafadzo Manyuchi and Nakai Mashamba.
The team were also accompanied by their mentors, Nigel Nyathi, Givemore Kanyemba along with Tafadzwa Banga who is the founder and president of a non-profit organisation Young Inventors from NUST. Young Inventors was established in 2017 after getting support from the Yali organisation with the idea to give innovative African youths the platform to engage in shaping their communities. As an organisation, we want to ensure that youths who are innovative get recognition as much as those in the academic sector do. It has been a trend for the past in Africa, Zimbabwe specifically, that a child who excels in academics is considered to be more important than others whilst those who are innovative are not so much appreciated. As of now we have managed to establish a club at NUST and what we seek is to break departmental barriers by allowing students from different departments to work together. Winning this award is just the beginning of more great things to come,” Banga said.
The LabHack model was first piloted in Zimbabwe and conceived by University of Oxford researchers, Dr Louise Bezuidenhout and Helena Webb with the intention to be a competitive and educational event where multidisciplinary teams of students compete around three challenges to build low-cost laboratory equipment.
The South African edition of LabHack was supported and hosted by SANBio / BioFISA II Programme which is a shared biosciences research development and innovation platform for working collaboratively to address some of Southern Africa’s key biosciences issues in health, nutrition and health-related intervention areas.
A team of students from the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) were last Thursday named as winners of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge in Zimbabwe.
Following their victory, the students advanced to the next level of the world’s leading investment research competition and will compete against universities from Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
The regional finals will be held on 10th and 11th of April 2019 in Zurich, Switzerland and will be hosted by CFA Society Switzerland.
The local challenge was the first step of two for a local team to advance towards the global final in New York, US, on April 25, 2019.
The Nust team consists of Andrew Dewah, Obvious Khumalo, Lynet Koteni, Tanaka Mupatsi and Memory Singadi.
Simbarashe Mangwendeza of Old Mutual Securities mentored the team while Cloudio Chikeya, a lecturer at Nust advised the team.
Other universities that competed at the local research challenge were from, Africa University, Chinhoyi University of Technology,Harare Institute of Technology,Midlands State University, Solusi University, and University of Zimbabwe.
Each university sent a team of three to five students to participate in the local challenge.
The students presented their analysis and buy/sell/hold recommendations on ZSE listed Padenga Limited. Their presentation at the local final was the culmination of months of research; interviews with company management, competitors, and clients; and presentation training.
For the students it was a great moment with some seeing that as a big step towards the professional life.
One of the students, Memory Singadi had this to say: “It feels so good to win though it was very challenging. For me the experience is a stepping stone to the future and my career.”
Obvious Khumalo, another member of the winning team felt the competition gave them “a practical feel of the corporate world”.
CFA local host coordinator Ranga Makwata was full of praise for the competing teams especially on how they were able to grasp key concepts of the competition such as financial analysis and equity valuation over a three months mentorship programme.
“With this kind of enthusiasm and talent the future of the investment profession in the country is very good and that can only improve our capital markets further,” he said.
Mozambican entrepreneur Celmira Amade uses rare plant extracts from the Olacaceae family that are only found in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Madagascar in her products
A Cambridge university student from Mozambique has launched a new beauty brand in the UK to revolutionise skincare for melanin-rich skin.
When Celmira Amade came to study International Business at Royal Holloway University of London in 2010, she was not quite ready for the impact of the English climate. As a result, her skin suffered from blemishes, dryness and uneven tone almost overnight.
After spending time and energy searching across mainstream UK beauty stores and still not finding anything natural and designed specifically for melanin-rich skin, she eventually settled for make-up as a temporary solution.
It was not until she was offered a skin bleaching cream in a local independent beauty shop that Amade realised she really had to do something. Make-up was no longer the solution and skin bleaching was definitely not an acceptable alternative.
After a year of hesitation, Amade took the entrepreneurial leap to influence the concept of beauty products for melanin rich skin tones, by using the ancient Mozambican beauty recipes of her grandmother to launch TSAKA.
TSAKA (with a silent T, pronounced SAKA,) means ‘happiness’ in Ronga, one of the national languages of Mozambique and this journey has certainly led this young businesswoman to discover the true meaning of happiness.
The TSAKA face mask is the first product in the skincare line and is set to take the melanin rich skincare world by storm. This highly effective wonder product is formulated with rare plant extracts from the Olacaceae family that are only found in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Madagascar – and it is the first beauty line in the UK to use this ingredient extensively.
This is the first time that the beauty and science behind Mozambique’s extraordinary flora will be used in a major beauty line. As a vegan skincare company launching its first product for melanin-rich skin, TSAKA pays tribute to time tested traditional African beauty recipes – pushing the boundaries of possibilities in natural beauty.
Today, Amade, who graduated with a 1st class degree international business, splits her time in England completing her studies in the University of Cambridge and managing TSAKA’s production and brand development. She regularly travels to Mozambique to visit her suppliers in isolated islands and in the remote countryside.
A Namibian Grade 12 learner Simon Petrus is making waves after he invented a mobile phone, with no sim-card, which uses radio signals and doesn’t require airtime to make calls.
According to New Era, Petrus, who is a learner at Abraham Iyambo Senior Secondary School, made the phone using parts from a telephone and television set, and his invention doesn’t even need a sim-card to make calls.
The mobile device took the whiz kid two years to complete, and it has not been plain sailing for the young inventor, who faced financial difficulties. The project was funded by Petrus’ unemployed parents, who had to sacrifice over N$2 000 (U.S$ 146) to ensure that his project would be completed successfully.
The invention, which is made up of a radio system, is attached to a box and makes voice calls, while also doubling up as a TV, allowing the user to watch one TV channel. Petrus’ invention is not a fly-by-night success story. Last year the learner won a gold medal at the NamPower national schools’ competition, after he reportedly invented a machine that serves as a seed drier and cooler.
Petrus’ invention continues to cause a stir on social media, where the development is being celebrated as a remarkable example of the innovative nature and potential of young people on the continent, which needs to be supported.
Over the past few years, Namibia has been the birthplace of various innovative projects by young people.
Last year, another Namibian student, Gerson Mangundu, developed the country’s own social network site called Namhook.
In 2014, another young inventor from northern Namibia, Josua Nghaamwa built a satellite dish booster using scrap material to enhance internet connectivity, to benefit those living in the rural areas where the signal is significantly weaker than normal.
AS many tertiary institutions prepare to close for vacation in June, The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) has called on the private sector to offer temporary jobs to students.
Due to failure to pay fees, a lot of students are dropping out of college which has prompted ZINASU to implore the private sector to give jobs to students during the impending vacation so that they can raise money.
Many institutions including the University of Zimbabwe allowed students to sit for their exams with fees in arrears but students will not be able to access their results and this prevents them from proceeding with their studies as results are a prerequisite for carrying on to another level.
As such, a lot of students do not only need money to pay fees for next semester but also need financial resources to pay outstanding fees from the previous one.
ZINASU spokesperson Zivai Mhetu said that the Union’s plea for availing of vacation jobs was directed to big companies and small scale businesses such as supermarkets, boutiques, internet cafes, hotels, restaurants, fast food outlets as well as civic society organisations, political parties, churches, bars and many others.
“The prevailing economic situation has hit students the hardest,” said Mhetu. “Thousands of students dropped out of tertiary institutions this semester alone and a lot more are most likely going to do so during the next one. The private sector should weigh in and offer temporary vacation jobs to students so that they can raise money for fees.”
Mr Mhetu said he facilitated jobs for students during last vacation and was thus confident that temporary jobs can be availed to students by the private sector.
“Last vacation,” said Mhetu, “I secured jobs for 12 students. A much larger number than that secured jobs on their own hence this time job seeking on vacation should be done nationally because it is very possible for students to get vacation jobs. But this can only happen if those in the private sector understand our plight as students and how our education, which we can only pursue with their assistance, is crucial for national development and the creation of an educated human resources pool which the private sector can benefit from in the future. I know that a very small number of businesses are currently operating in the country due to the ongoing economic malaise but I would like to call upon those few enterprises that are open to sacrifice and assist students.”
Mr Mhetu said if ever those who wish to support students were in doubt of whether a job seeker is a student or not they could simply ask for a school I.D or call the school authorities for verification.
In April ZINASU released information that at least 12 000 students had dropped out of tertiary institutions since the beginning of the year due to a debilitating economic crisis which has resulted in their parents and guardians having little or no income to channel towards their educational pursuits.
In my last academic year, I spent 2 months trying to decide on whether I should quit school or not. I kept going round and round, running decision metric after decision metric, and after burning through all that time. I found myself stuck between living in the future and what had to be done in the present, a place where my vision said I had to get to this next level, that my present state did not reflect.
What made it worse was all the feel good motivational material that plagues us these days, offering a false sense of comfort in believing whilst not acting on that belief. The stuff that told me to ” live in the forward” that ” what I was to be, I was now becoming” backed up by the “all successful entrepreneurs dropped out of school” mantra. I mean, they even made a pretty infographic about it! Yet here I was…all the work that I had put in seemed to not be translating into the visionary company that I had set out to build. I got burnt out and felt like I had washed out at 23. I got it in my head that what I needed to do was to dedicate more time and resources to doing what I was doing and that everything else around me was just a distraction. To push even harder and disregard all else, and brute-force my way to success. So after going through those 2 months I made the decision, and here is what I learnt in doing so
What I learnt
Just do it! When you decide to do something, find it in yourself to disregard the fear of the future and simply act on it, moving quickly means that you make the mistakes even faster and get back up. So do not let your fear of the imaginary paralyse you into inactivity. Decide, commit and execute.
It will take time….lots of it. Starting up will take time, and it is important to focus on the simple fundamental principles on which you intend on building your legacy. It will take longer and feel twice as hard as they said it would on day one and that is okay. So do not try and fast forward the present so as to live in the future, do what has to be done today, and do it exceptionally well.
Get into the habit of working, not as a single “final push” to glory but as a way of life. It is not just getting into it, you have to sustain it, to commit to it. Understanding that the attainment of a skill or goal is only temporary means that you simply have to continue beating on your craft, It is a process and not a destination. So you have to love what you do so that putting in time, really becomes endless fun riddled with complex intriguing challenges.
While priorities are important, you must not “stop living” in the name of being an entrepreneur. We are human first before being a founder and so should continue to exist in our capacity as human beings. This is especially important when you realise that the effort required to startup is not a once-off affair, it is an on-going concern which, if derived from all-out sacrifice, will mean that we stop living and simply exist for the idea or startup. Sustained “all-out” sacrifice
Let me explain these in a bit more detail…..
Being afraid of fear
Some wise entrepreneur told me that when it comes to building a company, the fear that we entertain really is about being afraid of our thoughts of the future. That it simply causes us to fear things that at present do not, and may never exist. I wasted a lot of time stuck in this go-or-no-go state which mostly was driven by said fear. When starting up we ask ourselves, what if we make an app that could do this and that, and then freak out when that “what if” breeds doubt, and that doubt turns into anxiety that magnifies our fears of failing, into apocalypse-causing let downs. He sat me down, drew this diagram in the sand and said to me. Envision the future, but live in the now, that for every what if not, ask “Yes…but what if?
This might seem like the “feel good” opium that everyone is selling. The truth, however, is that we need to accept what we cannot change right now and focus on what we can. This acceptance isn’t and should not be defeat, it is losing a battle in order to win the war. What is strange is that we know this as human beings, yet we allow ourselves to be incapacitated by our fear of things that do not as yet exist, scaring ourselves into non-action. I decided to drop out of school and then spent 2 months paralysed by the fear of doing so, it was essentially 2 months of not acting on my goals.
Castles don’t just float in the sky.
The hours really do matter.
We cannot try to defer the present in pursuit of the future. It just does not happen that way nor can we just delegate it. We have to go through the drowning motions of the present, that all-pain-no-joy phase where most of us quit and just go back to normalcy. It is over this time when we each have to work on our craft. When we learn by doing, when we focus on the basics and understand where the opportunity really is.Thomas Edison said that reason why most people do not recognize an opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looking like Hard Work!
We have to put in the hours and learn how to see it, how to undress and redress it, and how to work smart and not hard about it. It doesn’t end there, we then have to habitualize putting in the hours. It is never a one-time intense exertion of oneself. It is putting in the hours every day of every week for however long a time period, until “putting in the hours” is the new normal. Motivational speakers talk about how it takes 10 000 hours to attain mastery in one skill, and how it takes 3 weeks to form a habit. These denote the minimum amount of time required to acquire said habits and skills, which is only half the battle. It takes much more to maintain, cultivate and inculcate the skills or habits into the way we live on a day to day basis, which should be our goal.
We are humans first then entrepreneurs.
No one was born and designated the title ‘entrepreneur.’ There was no heavens-parting proclamation that entitled us to just being that. So consequentially we all are students/fathers/mothers/professionals/insert-life-role-here AND then are entrepreneurs. So deciding to create value shouldn’t be an excuse for underperforming and/or not showing up in your other roles in life. Being an entrepreneur isn’t a guilt free pass to mediocrity. It is asserting that you will perform your required roles in life, and then some. It demands that you be more, be better, faster, smarter than your former self. The honest truth is that the world doesn’t care that we have other roles, you cannot tell a customer that you failed to deliver the promised value because you had “work pressure” or ” complicated relationship issues.” That doesn’t mean that we sacrifice all else for the startup either, nor should we attempt to “create time” by deprioritizing the rest of your lives. You cannot defer the now in the hope of a better future when that future is built by doing what has to be done today.
When to become a dropout
Yes, it is true that these successful startup demi-gods dropped out of school. They, however, did not do that in pursuit of a desire or a partially formed idea. It was at that critical inflection point where their present circumstances ( be it a job or school) became a prison, stifling the growth of what they had created. Only at that point did they break out and explode into success. This also means that, prior to their jailbreak, they used said prison as a resource. It was their market, their office, and it fulfilled some of their team functions. I mean is it not easier (and cheaper) to ask someone from the accounts department to help you out with your taxes, or for someone from legal to advise you on how to draft your own contracts as opposed to quitting, and then hiring a tax/legal consultant that you will have to pay for? Leverage on the colleagues, information and resources you have access to until the value of breaking out far outweighs the cost of staying in employment or school. Entrepreneurs simply have to do what they can where they are with what they have and make it work.
Entrepreneurship is the process of creating value and capturing part of that value. It is a process of constant reinvention, that requires one to learn the art of completion, of not quitting when it becomes hard and knowing when to adapt, of sticking to the vision and actively translating the present into the future that they want to exist in. All of which takes a great deal of patience, much more than they prescribed when they sold it as the “all-problem-solving” drug that we should all get incredibly high on.
In the end
Instead of dropping out, I ended up taking a gap year to understand how to sustainably start-up and why I needed to do so. To refocus and look back at why I had sort to startup in the first place. It is easy to lose sight of that vision after four years of pivoting and iterating and chasing grand ideas down many rabbit holes. I returned, having figured out what value I needed to derive from being in college ( and it wasn’t just about getting a degree.) I think the hardest part about being a student entrepreneur is realizing that albeit the amazing company that you are building against insurmountable odds, you still have to be a student, you have to show up for lectures at 8am after a 48-hour hackathon, and squeeze team meetings and work in-between tests, assignments, and presentations. You have to show up for everything else, and then be this relentless visionary out to change the world. I had to self-audit and manage time to the last 5 minutes, accepting that I cannot change the world right now, nor can I do so overnight, and instead, focus on learning all the simple fundamentals that I had rushed over in my first ( second and third) attempts at starting up.
Takunda Chingonzoh is an innovation consultant and international speaker who works with startups that leverage on technology for growth. He is the co-founder of Saisai Wireless and Neolab Technology the startup Factory. Article first published on his blog UPSTARTER- http://blog.upstarter.co.zw/