Last March 17th to 24th, Better World Cameroon hosted an innovation lab under the Youth SIRCle project at the Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage and Touristic Center at Bafut, Bawum.
The innovative Pattern Language Curriculum, called the ‘Evoneers’ Journey’, a learning journey for social innovation and entrepreneurship, was developed by an Erasmus+ partnership project, SIRCle. Through this project, an idea was born to collaborate on a project that would share and adapt these tools and curriculum to the African context, to Denmark, and to youth. Consequently, the Youth SIRCle project:‘Social Innovation for Resilient Communities – Living Earth’ was developed as a follow up to the Social Innovation for Resilient Communities-SIRCle project. The Youth SIRCle project which is also an Erasmus + funded partnership project between between Better World Cameroon, Andelstanken, Global ecovillage Ghana and Global Ecovillage Network has as objective to contextualize the innovative Learning Materials of the ‘Evoneers’ Journey’ to Africa and to youth, in order to provide materials and methods that will build their capacity. The project will also strengthen the educational and innovation capacity of partners, test and launch a new educational programme and lead to best practice development.
One of the core activities under this Youth SIRCle project is the innovation lab that brought together 6 young entrepreneurs from Cameroon, Denmark, Ghana and the UK to empower each other through sharing of ideas and experiences.
The Cameroon Innovation lab was an eight day-long event, wherein the young entrepreneurs from Denmark, Ghana, the UK and Cameroon had the opportunity to meet with some mentors who were able to mentor and support them through the process of pitching but also listened to their business ideas and gave them constructive feedback which enabled them refine their businesses. Also, a platform was created through an open day event which was the highlight of the lab, for these entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to other entrepreneurs and to the general public. During the open day, there were presentations from other young Cameroon entrepreneurs who had been in the field of entrepreneurship much longer. These entrepreneurs shared their experiences as a way of encouraging the rising entrepreneurs at the lab. During the Open day, some financial contributions were made by the invitees that will go to support the careers of these young business women and men and give them support in terms of capacity building and provide them with seed capital to take their great ideas further.This open day equally served as a platform for networking as many relationships were created between the entrepreneurs from the various countries with the hope of building partnerships in the future.
Other interesting activities included visits to the Bafut Palace which is also UNESCO cultural heritage center. Here, the participants got the opportunity to know about the history and culture of Bafut which is the community where the lab was hosted. A visit was made to Prespot which triples as a pottery, a guesthouse and museum. At Prespot, participants were given an introduction as to how articles are made out of clay. Other fun activities included burn fires, singing and dancing.
As next steps with regards to the SIRCle project in Cameroon, Better World Cameroon and the Cameroon team, would be hosting many more capacity building trainings and mentorship programs for young entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs based on the curriculum which has been developed.
The UK, Ghana and Cameroon teams have been participating in the Danish lab in Denmark taking place from the 8th to the 15th of April 2018. This lab is also serving as a continuation to the Cameroon lab.