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Fellowship Diary - Day 4 by Rozina Myoya

iFriday, Jul 11th, 2014 comments by MariamO

Day 4

All that we’d been learning throughout the week, all the workshops and mentoring sessions had been preparing us for today. First up was the Pitch-off.

For some of us it would be the first time we would be ruthlessly cross examined and analysed by a panel of potential investors. They would test us on the practicality of our idea and on how much market research we had done. They would test whether we were aware of who our target market was and whether the SWOT analysis of our ideas was thoroughly done. We were all so nervous. But what made the challenge exciting was the prize. The winning App idea would be invested in and developed. We had a real chance of causing actual social change and this empowering thought brought out the competitive spirit in all of us.

The Pitch-off proved to be a real learning experience and taught us how difficult it is to get people to buy into your idea. Your idea may be great, but knowing how to sell it to an investor is what will give you the power to make your idea real.

After, we had a short feedback session where we all got to share all that we had learnt during the week. For most, this week had made them discover a part of them that they didn’t know existed.

For me, the week had given me a more grounded outlook on life in general. The week had proved that you can achieve success by following your passion, but it takes more than will power and motivation to achieve it. You need to have the proper skill set and support system in order to do this. You also need to be ready to face failure. In order to find your niche you need to be willing to experiment, attempt new things, and chances are you’ll probably get it wrong the first time. You need to have your goals clearly set out but you need to be open-minded and flexible in your pursuit because life is full of surprises.

Our second opportunity to use our new skills was the @Network event. On arrival at the Protea President Hotel, we were given the opportunity to socialise with representatives from various companies. The companies present were CSIR, TOMPSA, Jacobs Matasis, Capsule Technologies, Unilever, Shakti Energy and Denel Dynamics; each with an exhibit to showcase what they do and advertise opportunities for graduates.

The theme for the event was Engineering Technology for the future. Naadiya Moosaje served as the panel moderator and was joined by the following three panellists:

Megan Verkuil is the founder and CEO at Capsule Technologies. She is behind the development of the first African-made Android computer (20W), which is completely African designed and consumes less than 20W of electricity. It was designed with Africa’s problem of power shortage in mind. It also answers the challenge of Africa’s digital needs,  aimeing to solve the problem of technological illiteracy in rural areas. She is a true Africanist and believes that one way Africa will prosper is if we as Africans invest in our local talent. “Keep it local”, as she would say.

Djamila Douache is currently Team leader for Algeria’s training group EURL ZTE Algeria. She also took part in the “2013 TechWomen Emerging Leaders” event, an initiative by the US government. She is an Electronics Engineer and holds a Master’s degree in Image Processing from the National Polytechnic School, Algiers. Her research involved using signal communication for the diagnosis of uterine cancer.  She is a true feminist and is passionate about education. She believes that as female engineers we are constantly on a mission to better ourselves. Her number one piece of advice to us was, “Get out of your comfort zone!”

Mohamed Mansoor is a CA (SA) with 20 years’ experience in the private & public sector. He has previously founded a start-up business and is an experienced entrepreneur, having worked locally and abroad. He has a passion for education and poverty reduction and believes that we, the youth, have the biggest opportunity to make a positive impact on our world. His advice to us was to use the professional skills we are acquiring in school and couple that with a hunger of trying to make an impact, and the result will be sustainable change for the good.

The panel discussion brought the whole week into context and supported what we had learnt. It was clear that every workshop and every session we attended had a purpose. The panellists echoed what WomEng had tried to impart to us during the preceding four days: the importance of continually upskilling oneself, breaking out of our comfort zones and paying it forward. Successful professionals took time out of their busy lives to come talk to us, so we in turn have the responsibility to mirror this action and help other younger girls with whatever guidance we can offer.

Collectively, with continued efforts, we do have the power to affect social good.

Lesson of the day: Find a meaning in everything you experience and identify what skills you have acquired from these experiences and use those skills to better yourself and the environment around you.

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