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Fellowship Diary - Day 1 by Rozina Myoya

iSaturday, Jul 5th, 2014 comments by MariamO

We are all trying to find our niche. We find that we have so much passion but no outlet to express this passion and as a result, most of us find ourselves stuck in a monotonous existence where no growth occurs and our full potential is never realised.

Now, imagine you were given the opportunity to meet exceptional people who have realised their full potential, who have achieved their dreams - who are living your dream. Imagine discovering that these same exceptional human beings were once as lost as you are now, that they also had (and still have) insecurities and they achieved their dreams, despite their insecurities. It made me realise that there is nothing stopping me from doing the same and prompted me to apply for the WomEng Fellowship.

A lot of people who have attended previous conferences held by WomEng always describe the event as life changing and I was in a space where I needed direction when it came to my career. Being selected as a 2014 WomEng Fellow was precisely what I needed...to say I was excited would be the understatement of the century! I was going to meet a lot of extraordinary people.

What makes these people extraordinary is not that they are brilliant at what they do, it’s that they are willing to invest their time in helping others become great as well…

Day 1

We landed in the beautiful city of Cape Town just after 9 o’clock in the morning. Despite the fact that I had barely slept the previous night, I was energised by the anticipation of the coming week. We made our way to the Protea hotel (Sea Point), our home for the duration of Fellowship, where we met the amazing women running WomEng: Hema Vallabh, Managing Director, and Naadiya Moosaje, co-founder and CEO.

They opened the event by introducing us to the Fellowship team and giving us the itinerary for the coming week. Naadiya encompassed everything we would prove to achieve in the following words: “Being a Fellow is about creating innovation and thereby creating change.”

The most important part of the week was the technical challenge. We had the task of designing an App that would address a major social issue that we are facing in South Africa and in Africa as a whole. It was clear that the coming week would push us beyond conventional thinking and bring out the innovators in us. Lastly, sixty Fellows were split into ten groups and Fellowship Week was officially underway.

Fellowship 2014 venue

This year’s theme was Engineering Technology for Social Good and what better place to explore this theme than at The Bandwidth Barn - the leading tech hub in Africa, also known as Silicon Cape. Many believe that it is South Africa’s version of Silicon Valley and I daresay no other comparison could be more fitting.  At the Barn we were given the opportunity to interact with the following successful tech-preneurs:

Doctors Yaseen Khan and Mohammed Dalwai, developers of the mobile clinic app (EM Guidance), which aims to address the lack of adequate information concerning different diseases; Dr. Mao Amis, co-founder and Executive Director of Africege (African Centre for a Green Economy) and self-confessed eco-preneur; Arifa Parker, member of Amaanah Business Consulting, who’s objective in life is to make sure that the future generation of entrepreneurs are given the right basic tools to be successful via mentoring and coaching.

We also had the opportunity to engage with the charismatic Vuyisa Qabaka who is a business leader, connector, innovator and an entrepreneur. We also engaged with other tech-preneurs who have conquered their fields of expertise. Together they pointed out important aspects of App design that we needed to take into account with regards to our technical challenge.

In just those few hours I had learnt vital techniques on idea generation from Professor Charles Maisel, learnt the value of newspapers, realized that I wasted a lot of time watching series when I could be innovating the next big thing, and gained essential basic entrepreneurial skills.

After a long day of fast-track learning and head scratching for ideas we finally left the Barn and headed to our dinner venue. During dinner we had the opportunity to socialise with some of the former WomEng delegates who have now become successes in their industries. We also found out that you don’t have to be an engineer or even female to be a part of the WomEng team. As long as you have a passion for individual empowerment you are more than welcome to join the movement.

In one day Fellowship had planted, among sixty strangers from across the country, the seeds for potential partnerships and friendships.

Lesson of the day: It all starts with an idea; write it down and make it real.

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