Having some of the organizers coming from Swahili-speaking countries I thought that ASENTI was the Swahili word for thank you (Asante) and had just been misspelled. This was however not the case as it turns out that ASENTI really stands for African Summit on Entrepreneurship and Innovation and is the forum that gathers over 1000 entrepreneurs and different stakeholders around the continent.
I got extremely excited when I got an email saying that I could attend this summit, my happiness levels decreased the further I read the email which later mentioned that to be part of the summit one had to pay a fee that I couldn’t afford. Good enough the week after during one of our meetings as Comms Committee, Nicola ( Program Manager of Challenges Worldwide Uganda) broke the news to us that somehow Challenges Worldwide had partnered with the ASENTI people and they had given us a spot for up to four guys.
Hardly had she completed the communication when I shouted that I would be more than glad to attend. I made sure I point it out that I was going out of personal gains and asked the team if they were okay with it. “It’s fine Ronald as long as you write a blog about your experience their,” James ( Team Leader and in charge of Comms Committee) instructed me. How could I refuse such an offer so I agreed seeing that this was the only alternative for me plus it would be a cheaper price to pay.
Anyways to cut the long story short I was accompanied by James and Laura ( one of the most adorable UK volunteers in my cycle) and we were later joined by Nicola. On reaching the room where the summit had been organised at the Innovation Village, being my first time visiting this place I was speechless because for the first time in a long time I had finally landed on a place so good I wouldn’t stop to tell you about its goodies if I started so I won’t. This place was conducive for the creators mind, for the innovators and for the dreamers. At long last I had found my true love and to make it even more romantic it was love at first sight for every corner even up in the ceiling was designed to spark off imagination. I recall turning back and thanking Nicola like a million times because I was overwhelmed.
All this was before I saw the vibrant young entrepreneurs that had come for the occasion with a special kind of hunger for transformation that you wouldn’t miss if you looked deep into their eyes. This is the kind of hunger that was on the eyes of the moderator as he called upon the speaker of the day who is the most prominent woman in business in Uganda today. She has served as a Minister, civil servant, farmer, business consultant and patron of all secretaries of Uganda, her name is Maggie Kigozi who brought our attention to the SDGs and how the entrepreneurs could help in accomplishing them showing us how we could benefit in doing so. We lost track of time since she was so thorough in explaining but when she was through, everyone in the room was inspired and had the look on their faces that suggests, “I am doing what she has recommended immediately after this session.” We were lucky enough to get both group photos and personal photos with the most influential woman before she left, new stories to tell my grandchildren and also brag among mates.
Did you know that an affordable alternative for cement has been invented. This will reduce the construction costs in developing countries by almost half, the invention was introduced by one of the speakers of that day something that sparked off thinking and questions in peoples’ minds. The other speaker encouraged us to focus on social enterprises as a solution to majority of communities problems.
To crown it all we had an interesting pitch session where selected candidates had to present their innovations and business ideas to a panel of judges and the judges in turn were to select the best three pitches who were to win prizes. The best part of the pitch session was that one the Judges was from the Challenges Team and the other was the amazing analysis I gave on the pitches ( oh my gosh….. I so love me…) everyone loved it and some even said I did it better than the judges.
ASENTI did an amazing job thereafter by telling us to exchange contacts and also to write our needs and abilities and pin them on to a board where those interested would find them.This was really helpful for me because I got to actually interact with software developers, website designers, Agribusiness experts most of whom I will closely work with during my next big project.
My sincere appreciation to the ASENTI crew for delivering what they had promised and of course to Challenges Worldwide for enabling us to take part in this event that had gathered entrepreneurs across boarders.
SEGANDA INNOVATIONS LTD