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TEM Lab - Fall, 2018
Written by Team Ubuntu (Rachel An, Fungai Mandaza, Craig Pearson)
Dear Professor Hunsaker and the TEM Lab Team,
We cannot thank you and your team enough for all the work you have done to ensure that our TEM Lab projects become a success. Team Ubuntu (Rachal An, Fungai Mandaza and Craig Pearson) had the opportunity to develop a strategy for a new business incubation center and provide relevant training to ensure sustainability at the Center for Entrepreneurship Development and Vocation Studies (CEDVS), a branch of the prestigious Federal Polytechnic in Ado (Ekiti State). The project was funded by the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program, which is implemented by Winrock International.
The 5-week project was a cocktail of mixed emotions. On our arrival in Abuja, Nigeria we were welcomed by the Winrock Country Director, Mr. Mike Bassey, and his team. From the very first day, we had meetings and presentation preparations. Before flying out to Ekiti state, we visited Box Office Incubator, a co-working space oriented incubator in Abuja. It was very useful for us to be able to see how the concept of an incubator was adopted in Nigeria as well as to understand the challenges that we might have missed in our preliminary research.
We soon arrived in Ado-Ekiti to the Linkage Guest House, which was going to be our home for the duration of our 4-week stay (except for one week where we were ousted for Polytechnic VIPs). The guest house had a warm, welcoming local vibe and the staff quickly embraced us as one of their own. They became an important asset to our project and our lifestyle as they were more than willing to correct us and introduce us to various cultural norms.
Then the real fun started….
Days after our client assessment, our project scope changed from building an incubator to educating on what an incubator is. We had to focus on the WHAT before we could even begin to discuss the HOW (what an incubator is, what it is not, what are the best practices, what would we recommend). We did this in the form of workshops, one-on-one meetings, focus group discussions and we even took a field trip to big city, Lagos, to visit incubators.
With all the sleepless nights, super early morning meetings, presentations on the fly, we still managed to soak up the culture and local festivities (it would have been un-Tbird of us not to). We got invited to a 2-day wedding, attended a Nigerian church service, went to a beach in Victoria island, interacted with Tbirds (of-course) at an alumnus’s fancy yacht club, recruited potential Tbirds, visited Gossy warm and hot springs, went shopping at the local markets, ate a lot of the very local foods, and made great contacts and friends…phew! And still managed to leave Ado-Ekiti with a happy client, who we hope will be opening a preliminary iteration of an incubator by next month.
Collectively, our team had a wonderful experience with lots of unforgettable moments and lessons we will carry into our personal and professional lives. So yes, thank you, for the 5-week highlight of our Thunderbird experience!