ICT Hubs: Initial Pre-test Insights from iHub

By Hilda Moraa
  Published 16 Feb 2012
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ICT Hubs: Initial Pre-test Insights from iHub
Assessing the Impact of African ICT Hubs to the Entrepreneurs:

Last week, iHub research conducted a pre-test of the research instruments to be used to assess the impact of iHub on the entrepreneurs in the space. This is part of the on-going ICT Hubs Research Series that is studying fifteen (15) ICT Hubs across Africa. For more information on the ICT Hubs Research Series, check out: http://goo.gl/Q69eT.

The pre-test at iHub was administered to six (6) members total from the two (2) membership tiers (Green and Red). The 2 membership tiers were chosen for the pre-test as it was easier to meet with them physically unlike white members who are virtual and hence not easily assessable. The full-scale study encompasses the 3 different membership tiers (Red, Green, and White). The main aim of the pre-test was to test the research instruments before beginning the data collection. Below are some of the insights that came out of the pre-test. These are not yet applicable to the overall findings, but rather simple insights that arose from the experience:
  • The six (6) members interviewed have all been members for more than a year, spending at least a day per week working on their ideas/innovations from the space. These members have made new connections and friends out of the iHub.

  • Four (4) are currently developing their own start-ups while one (1) is working as a freelancer on different projects that have been driven by iHub networks.

  • Two (2) of the interviewed members have skills and expertise in project management, two (2) others have software engineering skills, one (1) has business development, and the other person (1) has web applications skills.

  • All interviewed felt that their skills have greatly improved since they started working from iHub. Members cited the increase in their skills to the continuous networking that happens during events.

  • Those interviewed expressed that they have been able to learn new business skills from the other members, create team synergy, and shape their ideas into actions through collaborations formed at iHub.

The members appreciate the iHub culture of sharing knowledge and empowering youth to develop their ideas. Most significant to three (3) of them is the Internet connectivity that iHub provides which accelerates performance. Of secondary significance to the others have been the fireside chats where members have the opportunity to hear from experienced people in the industry. Activities in iHub that have impacted on their business include events like Mobile Monday where members learn new things from experts, networking through the connections of the iHub management team, and competitions like hackathons which have been useful to skills applicable to their businesses. When asked to describe the iHub space, two respondents said, “Fun and cool.” The other four (4) said “collaborative, synergy.” Respondents felt that there are still things the iHub should improve upon. Some of the challenges they have faced while working at the iHub space include noise from other people’s phone calls, the lack of a meeting place with their potential clients, and distractions (when kicked out during events). All respondents stated that they would like to be involved in more collaborative projects, meet-ups, and would like to have a more dynamic membership that will allow other skilled entrepreneurs who are currently working with their start-ups and are not registered to still be able to access the space. Overall, members wanted to engage with the community more and receive often feedback on their business ideas. iHub Research will be collecting the data from the full target sample this week and thereafter releasing findings in early March. Stay tuned for our findings!
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