“How I wish we were on campus!” – These were my initial thoughts as I received an email inviting me to participate in the 2020 Global Entrepreneurship Week Sessions (GEW), organized by ALU, themed “Education and Ecosystems”.
My name is Eleih Elle Etian Junior, and as a freshman at ALC from Cameroon, I looked forward to attending these celebrations in our beautiful premises in Pamplemousses. However, this year’s celebrations had to be carried out online. Despite my initial reservations, I resolved to actively participate in all discussions. I had a lot of expectations and questions going into these sessions: How can I take advantage of ALU’s resources to be a successful entrepreneur? Will I be able to follow up with all the online sessions?
Well, here is my mini account of how everything unfolded and what gems I took from the different sessions – hope you find some potent knowledge through my story!
Day 1 – Kicking off the week in high spirits!
Day 1 was filled with a tonne of wisdom and valuable information on education and entrepreneurship. I attended the panel discussion which was themed “Education and Ecosystem Support: A Catalyst For Entrepreneurial Success’’. From innovative education models to creating diverse partnerships, this session reminded me of the importance of networking and crafting ways to merge different industries for the benefit of education and entrepreneurship.
My greatest takeaway was from the AL Group’s member Julia Paolillo, who emphasized the importance of not only consistently iterating your ideas but also learning how to work with the competition no matter how gut-wrenching that may be. This was a powerful lesson, not only because it showed that learning is limitless, but also that you can learn even from people you wholeheartedly want to be better than. Other speakers included ALU Provost, Dr. Nhlanhla, who spoke on how innovative education modes, like that of ALU, can stimulate entrepreneurial thinking and help solve the challenges that our continent is facing, and Dr. Dorothy, who drew attention to developing wide-ranging partnerships in diverse industries.
Day 2 – Putting yourself out there
Day two was all about Digital Marketing, Branding, and basically learning how to put yourself out there. As a Gen-Z member, I definitely resonated with the idea of being online and leveraging that network of people to grow your brand or business. In the words of Achieng Bulter, who is the founder of Digital Beehive Africa and hosted this session, “Not being online is not an option!’, and I couldn’t agree more. Through the different techniques that Achieng shared (influencer marketing, social media marketing, etc), what was clear to me was that every message that we put out there using digital platforms needs to have a purpose, that we need to listen harder to consumers, contextualize our visuals, and basically prioritize the people who support our brands.
Day 3 – Building a tribe
If you are part of the ALU community, then you know the importance of community, teams, and tribes. Day 3 was all about team formation and the art of building a team. ALU VP of People and Strategy, Danny Tanser, shared some of his tactics for successfully building a team and among many potent tactics, the one that stood out for me was looking beyond someone’s expertise and looking at their qualities and personal character because they have to work in a team and that requires a strong sense of good character.
Day 4 – Fireside Chats
After almost a week of consuming an incredible amount of valuable information, a dose of fireside chatting was needed. This session was free-flowing and touched on varying topics across different industries all relating to technology. The topics ranged from nurturing tech-startups to investment within the tech startup environment. However, the best part was getting to witness one of the ALU students and Founder of a tech startup Bungalo, pitching his idea.
Summarizing my first GEW experience in a few paragraphs was a challenging task. I learned so many important concepts around the role of Education and Ecosystems in entrepreneurship in just four days, that attending next year’s sessions is one of the things I look forward to the most. I will definitely miss the challenging Kahoot quizzes we had at the beginning of each session and the thought-provoking questions asked by the participants to the speakers which made me change my perspective about the entrepreneurial world.
Some words of wisdom for the way
I will advise future incoming students or any first-time attendee to the GEW sessions to:
- Go through the flyer/poster of each session and research not only about the topic being discussed but also to go through the profile of each speaker. This will ease your understanding of the discussion and equip you to engage actively with the content.
- Most importantly, have fun 😉