IEEE Entrepreneurship Tutorial: 2016 IEEE PES PowerAfrica Conference at Victoria Falls
On 28 June 2016, Ken Stauffer, chair of the IEEE Entrepreneurship Ad Hoc Committee and Rakesh Kumar, vice-chair of the Committee, went to Victoria Falls, Zambia to pilot an IEEE Entrepreneurship tutorial at the IEEE PES PowerAfrica Conference. The tutorial was organized not only to encourage engineers and non-engineers interested in starting their own businesses, but also to infuse some of the realities involved with entrepreneurial startups into the curriculum. Fifteen people from all over Africa and the United States attended the four-hour session.
But I plucked a new, different, worldly soul for myself -- maybe a soul I found in the spray thrown up by the surge of that distant African river as it plummets onto black rocks and sends up into the sun a permanent arc of a rainbow.” ― Alexandra Fuller, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
In addition to learning the fundamentals, attendees divided into two teams to participate in an interactive startup idea session. Both teams presented great ideas for startups in Africa. The first team developed an idea for a GPS animal-tracking collar and an app that would allow people to spot wild game when visiting animal parks in Africa. This was targeted towards professional guide groups that take guests into game parks. The second team presented an idea to build on the use of a micro grid to supply electricity to the Ugandan islands of Lake Victoria. This team’s entrepreneurial idea would build a business that enables fishermen access to refrigeration and ice so their catch could stay fresh longer and not spoil.
Because of this successful IEEE Entrepreneurship pilot in Zambia, a new goal of the IEEE Entrepreneurship Ad Hoc is to develop this pilot into an Entrepreneurship Tutorial for other IEEE Society conferences, but also as a stand-alone event to work in collaboration with other groups such as the IEEE and TAB Ad Hocs on African Activities.