Women mentors grill innovators to prepare them for SLUSH in Helsinki
In less than a month, two Namibian teams of young innovators will be in Helsinki, Finland, to participate in Europe’s biggest start-up event called SLUSH.
Helping the teams prepare, FABlab, the technology and design hub at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, organised several mentoring sessions for the team members under the auspices of the Finnish SAIS programme. The mentoring was done mostly by a prominent all-female group of business and professional leaders.
“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, “ said Ms Kirstin Wiedow, co-founder and Director of NUST FABlab.
FABlab Namibia is the first advanced manufacturing, prototyping and design lab in Namibia and the largest FABlab currently in Africa.
“This is truly remarkable to see such amazing women leaders in their respective fields coming together to support local innovators, face-to-face, giving their valuable time, sharing their wisdom and guiding a new generation of leaders to be the best. This is how we make change, you can feel that it’s something truly special, ” she said.
The mentors came from both the public and the private sectors. They are all leaders in their field working at the top level of their organisations. They are familiar with the trials and pitfalls of success.
The two SLUSH teams had to present their projects to the mentors after which they received a crit through tough, incisive questions to which they had to have a prompt answer or solution. This created a high-pressure environment for the entrepreneurs similar to a meeting they will have with a potential investor.
Supporting local micro, small and medium enterprises is a hot topic on everyone’s agenda from the government to every industry. Namibia can only move forward when our leaders become actively involved at grassroots level, not just on paper or by paying lip service. This event shows that our leaders are getting involved and are the catalysts for change that we need to make Namibia’s aspirations, goals and vision come to fruition,” said Wiedow.
Caption: Head mentor, Ms Kiki Gbeho (centre front), the UN Resident Coordinator, together with co-mentors Ms Kauna Ndilula, MD of BFS Solutions, Ms Dennia Gayle, UNFPA representative, Ms Caroline Girard, Technical Advisor from the GIZ and Ms Uajo Akweny of One Economy Foundation. With them are the team members of the WorldView team, Vincent van Wyk and Kaveto Tjatera. On the right is Mr David Shatiwa, the BDS Coordinator at FABlab.