Adapting in times of COVID 19

Greetings fellow entrepreneurs,

We hope you are keeping safe and healthy. As you all know, circumstances have changed. And when circumstances change, it behoves us to reassess our strategies and adapt. Human-centred design (HCD) is purpose-built for this type of scenario.

A few house-keeping matters before we explain how ACT seeks to be of service at this time, and how we plan to use HCD to make a positive contribution.

While our offices are closed, the team is working from home, and available to answer any question you may have about our programs or our response to the COVID19 pandemic.

Please note that we have extended our application deadline for the HCD training program to April 30, and postponed the program start date to June 15 (therefore the program will run from June 15 to July 10 instead of May 5 to May 29). Of course, this may change depending on the situation but we will keep you informed.

Our business growth program is similarly postponed, to the beginning of August. Precise dates will be communicated later on.

We are responding to the COVID19 pandemic in two ways.

First, we recognise that anxiety and social isolation can take a toll on people’s mental well-being. Therefore, starting last week and until the lock-down is over, we will be hosting weekly WhatsApp forums where we encourage you to share your fears, hopes, and immediate difficulties. It is vital that we stick together as a community and be supportive of each other at this time.

Second, we recognise that Zimbabwe’s healthcare system, like that of many other countries, is woefully ill-equipped to face this virus. In order to address some of these issues, ACT, in collaboration with TechVillage, Stimulus, and Impact Hub Harare, is launching the following challenge:

“How might we improve the safety and moral of healthcare workers?”

For this challenge, we are looking for digital solutions. We are very much aware that “tech” doesn’t solve everything (and that face masks are not digital), but in the current environment and to keep everyone safe, we feel that tech will be easier to test and implement. We will issue non-digital challenges when circumstances permit (speaking of non-digital solutions, we would draw your attention to the fantastic project started by Juliet LeBreton, called Kufema, which seeks to address the lack of ventilators; get involved if you can)

Your submission must be in the form of a 2-5page word (or pdf) document, or a 5-slide presentation.

The document you submit must clearly state the problem you want to solve (be specific!), how you will solve it, how you will make the solution financially sustainable, and what you need to get the project off the ground. Please make sure you include your bio (and that of your team if you applying as a team).

ACT and its partners will offer financial and non-financial support to the entrepreneur or team offering the most viable solution, and a US$ 50 cash prize to the winner (so if you are a team of 2, each team member will receive US$25).

It is time to show the world that Zimbabweans can make a plan!

We will be issuing design challenges each fortnight from now on so keep your eyes open for the next one, which will be shared on Thursday, April 23.

Finally, please remember that the most effective way of avoiding infection is to regularly wash your hands, regularly clean/disinfect surfaces at home, and practice social distancing. If you have access to Vitamin C, this remains one of the most effective prophylactic antivirals. And stay away from alcohol. Aside from being an immuno-suppressant, alcohol also affects your mood, and will cloud your judgement at a time when lucid thinking is required.

As you peer into uncertainty, take a moment to breathe, remember the design-thinking process, and be curious about the new opportunities for personal and professional growth that the COVID19 pandemic might offer.

And of course, if any of you have any other ideas on how ACT might be of help during these challenging times, please do not hesitate to contact us via WhatsApp or email.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay connected,

The ACT team



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