One of the keys to any successful business is being able to come up with new ideas to keep operations, products and services fresh. The process of bringing those ideas to reality is called innovation.
While thinking up new ideas is one step of the process, businesses have a much greater task in trying to turn that into an actual product or service that will benefit customers.
Since the age of modern man began roughly 200,000 years ago, the world has seen a progression of innovation and invention.
From primitive developments such as the wheel and paper to today’s high-tech gadgets that would blow the mind of any Neanderthal, there’s certainly no shortage of impressive developments that have changed the way we live and work.
In modern times, a handful of technological wonders that started out as novelties, have become indispensable to our daily routines.
No list of the “greatest technologies ever invented” is complete unless it includes the personal computer. The magazine Popular Mechanics reports the first general purpose computer was a 30-ton behemoth invented in 1947.
Though an incredible machine, it was far too large for any home. The invention of the personal computer, or PC, happened in the 1970s and revolutionised the entire world.
The inventors of such technologies and innovations are now among the world’s richest people on earth.
However, Malawi has a different story to tell when it comes to technology innovations.
Majority of our inventors or innovators have not taken their efforts higher and turn them into business opportunities.
During the ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam) innovations awards, a strong message was sent to local innovators to take innovation as a business.
In his presentation, Changing IT Face, Engineer Matthews Mtumbuka, said time has come to say no to issue based IT management approach.
He said innovations should be taken as a business.
“Most of our innovators opt to get employed and do their innovations at company level. In real sense, innovators are supposed to sell their innovations to companies or industries. We want to change this mind set and encourage our innovators to seriously consider becoming entrepreneurs not only locally but beyond the borders,” Mtumbuka said.
Ictam aso challenged the local innovators to venture into business to help the country reduce the number of jobless people.
Ictam President, Wisely Phiri, said by taking innovations as a business, most youths will be able to create jobs among themselves and stop looking up to the government to create jobs for them.
About 10 individuals we r e recognised for coming up wi th innovations that have been in use in the country for at least three months in different sectors such as agriculture, health, environment, education and manufacturing.
“It must be noted here that our goal with this initiative is to give a platform to the innovators in ICT to interface with the business and the policy makers. We are equally excited to see these innovators start their own startups; we would like to see more development towards this area. We would like to give platform to these innovators to pitch their ideas and get business as in so doing they can start their companies and employ more people,” he said.
Phiri further said that by making innovations a business, the sector will also be complimenting the government’s efforts in enhancing local production and improving exports.
“We believe some of the local innovations can make it on the international market as witnessed by the demand of local ICT experts within the African region. This sends a signal that Malawi’s have the capacity to produce better things and products from the ICT sector,” said Phiri.
One of the innovators, Ronnex Wataya, who innovated a smart ticket which can be used at football grounds said, he never thought innovations can be a business.
He, however, said after being encouraged by major ICT players in the country, he is convinced he can make it big with innovations.
“I have done a number of innovations for a few companies as an employee, but has never thought of taking my innovations as a business.
“After the ICT gurus spotted my skills, they encouraged me to venture into innovations business and the smart ticket is my first product. I believe, I will make it big and be able to create jobs for my fellow youths,” said Wataya.
He further, said that the ICT sector is providing a lot of support to upcoming innovators which is a welcome development.
Wataya said that the support he is getting from the ICT gurus, is giving him courage to change the country’s ICT sector.
“Through this forum, I have received a number of comments from the experts on how best to improve my product. I believe with such positive support, more youths will be encouraged to venture into innovations and help our country to grow economically and reduce the unemployment rate.
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