Monday, October 6, 2014

First Steps Venture Centre Adopts an Outward Oriented Early-Stage Enterprise Support Programme

True to the African proverb that states that, “It takes a village to raise a child,” the Botswana Innovation Hub’s flagship technology entrepreneurship development programme, First Steps Venture Centre (FSVC) takes the holistic view that early-stage enterprise support cannot be done in isolation, rather, an entire community must participate to some extent in the task.

“Successful businesses are not built solely on the plans and execution strategies of their owners, but also with sound advice from experts and professional who support the business,” states FSVC Programme Manager, Tshepo Tsheko.
Tsheko’s definition of the village extends beyond the confines of the local precinct. He is of the view that the advent of the Information Age has ushered in an era which considers the world as a single community, a global village linked by electronic media. This contemporary network society is based on the use of ubiquitous Information and Communications Technology (ICT’s), networks and personal communication tools, that allow people to share knowledge and experiences across the world.

Tsheko was speaking at the inaugural Innovative Entrepreneurs Workshop organised by FSVC and the US Embassy’s Speaker Programme on the 8th September earlier this month. The Innovative Entrepreneurs Workshop series brings world renowned business coaches, mentors and experts to support early-stage enterprises enrolled into the FSVC programme to engender and support a vibrant local technology start-up ecosystem.
Tsheko says beyond nurturing technology entrepreneurship and providing technology start-up businesses with a potential to grow locally and into the international markets, “FSVC has infused this exciting value addition as we step up and step out to the rest of the world with real life, bareknuckle, practical mentorship programmes that offer invaluable experience of the fiercely contested business environment for our clients.”  

It is this view of the global village and the provision of technology entrepreneurship support in the form of non-financial resources such as mentorship, expert guidance and access to industry events that is essential for entrepreneurs and has given the FSVC programme its outward orientation. The outward oriented early-stage enterprise support is highly sought by local businesses that seek a truly competitive global edge.

The inaugural workshop hosted highly acclaimed international speaker and mentor, Peter Corbett, who is also the founder and CEO of iStrategyLabs, a digital agency based in Washington DC. Introducing Corbett to participants, Acting Economic and Political Chief at the US Embassy, Chansonette Yun said, Corbett is widely known for his marketing acumen coupled with a deep technical background and focus on community building having spent many years as a grassroots organizer driven to build healthy ecosystems for entrepreneurs.

She said, “His company has worked with the likes of The US Army, Microsoft, Disney, NASDAQ, Coca-Cola, Ford, Volkswagen, and many other international brands.”

Yun said Corbett has mentored many start-up accelerator classes around the world, advised hundreds of early stage technology company’s and is frequently called upon by media houses such as Time Magazine, Washington Post and CNN to provide his perspective on technology, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Elements of the Innovative Entrepreneurs Workshop included modules on Defining the Value Proposition; Validating the Market; Attracting Investors; Assessing Competition; Moving from Technocrat to Technopreneur; Marketing and Sales Strategies and Thinking Global.

For his part Corbett said he is driven by a passion for all things technical and entrepreneurial. He said in a world where eight out of ten entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first eighteen months, mentoring is an effective way to reduce the learning curve for early-stage enterprises while according them valuable experience for professional and personal development. He said he was happy to be in Botswana and working with FSVC to provide technology entrepreneurship development support.

The FSVC technology entrepreneurship development programme was established in November, 2013 and boasts an illustrious ensemble of local business mentors and coaches for its clients. These are accomplished business men and women with broad and deep experience. The expertise of this eclectic ensemble that is seasoned with a pinch of youth ranges from business consultancy to ICT. Amongst the distinguished luminaries are Kenneth Molosi, Neo Ngwako, Evelyn Gaetsaloe and Itumeleng Garebatshabe.     

Tsheko explains that Botswana Innovation Hub has been established as part of an economic game changing institution to build the country’s first Science and Technology Park and help transform the country into a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy. The company achieves this by promoting a culture of innovation and competitiveness among its associate companies and knowledge-based institutions. It established FSVC to support technology transfer and serve as a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurial support, he says.

The enthused Tsheko could not hide his joy over the technology entrepreneurship development programme’s latest accomplishment, “FSVC will continue to bring world renowned business mentors, coaches and even technology evangelists as we position ourselves as the imitable rainmakers, the self-driven game changers and success factor for technology entrepreneur start-ups in the country. We are blazing!” he declares.   

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