ICT Hubs: Assessing the Impact of African ICT Hubs to the Entrepreneurs
By Hilda Moraa
Hive CoLab – A Case Study
Hubs across Africa such as Hive CoLab in Uganda are spurring innovation among technology savvy youth through the creation and exchange of values with entrepreneurs in the space.
These entrepreneurs are people with high technology skills such as software engineering, design, programming, as well as young individuals with an idea for social change that they would like to work on and make operational.
Recently the World Bank reported that 43% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is between the ages of 0 and 14. African countries will likely face an increase in job creation pressure. Many of these skills are being nurtured in the Information Communication (ICT) Hubs such as Hive Colab, where it offers the right environment to nurture and mature ideas. It is a place you can find mentors, or mentor a young person, network, and get partners for their business development.
Alas, little inquiry has been done to understand the various factors that make up an ICT Hub model and how such factors are useful to the entrepreneurs in the space. Most important, there has been little assessment of how African Hubs/Labs have been of significance to the different categories of members in the space. If anything, this young African generation is part of a new process that breaks down historical barriers and harnesses new potential to drive solutions through the concept of open innovation.
iHub Research has collaborated with HiveCoLab, the second Hub of the 15 hubs to be profiled within the study series. The first to be profiled was iHub in Nairobi, Kenya. Download the first ICT Hub Model and Entrepreneurs report of the iHub at research.ihub.co.ke.
Hive CoLab is an open, collaborative, community-owned, work environment where young tech entrepreneurs can focus on their projects, access the internet, have a quiet professional environment to develop their ideas, hold events and collaborate.
It is open to anyone once they become a member. The membership structure is designed around 4 membership tiers that include:
- Full Member – 3 months, then month to month
- Shared Member – 3 months, then month to month
- Bee- member-3 months, then month to month
- Virtual Member – Month to month
Over the past few months iHub Research has developed the framework for their in-house ICT Hubs research series that will break down the unique factors that make up ICT Hubs/Labs in Africa (Afrilabs). The series has a special focus on the role of ICT Hubs in fostering innovative entrepreneurship.
The Research Framework
The overall ICT Hubs study seeks to answer the following research questions across selected African ICT Hubs:
1. What impact does the Hub have on the individual’s development (skills and personal growth)?
2. What impact does the Hub have on the individual’s start-up?
3. What is the significance of the Hub community to the individual member?
4. What is the most important factor, which makes the members continue to use the space?
iHub Research will use mixed methods to assess the impact of hubs on members in Hive CoLab. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be used including: virtual meetings, direct observation, focus-group discussions, and semi-structured interviews in 15 Hubs/Labs around Africa. Based on the data collected through virtual networks, focus group discussions, workshop findings, and e-survey results, a visual report will be produced that illustrates the impact of the hubs on the Hive Colab members.
In the following months, iHub Research will regularly report on this project’s progress project through this blog.
We welcome your comments and support!