Tech Hub experiences from the first Havana Expo
Community organisers call for stronger support for entrepreneurship initiatives in informal settlements
The Inclusive and Collaborative Tech Innovation Hub recently participated as an exhibitor in the first Havana Annual Expo, which was organised from 30 October to 3 November in the Havana Community Sports Field. The TechHub exhibited some of the current community work and products designed by communities. Some of the products that were showcased were the Augmented Reality Magnets and the Augmented Reality Handbags. Furthermore, the expo was an opportunity for the TechHub to showcase the projects, developments and ideas that they have been involved in.
Ideated by a group of local micro entrepreneurs headed by Mr Onesmus Shetunyenga, the event aimed to offer local SMEs the opportunity to expose their services to the community and to other business providers.
‘We believe that an expo would be an excellent way to boost our local economy and fight the challenge of unemployment,’ said Shetunyenga in an interview with the Tech Hub.
Their experience with the first expo was however far from easy. The group contacted municipal authorities, community leaders, and potential sponsors three months ahead of the event and duly followed up on their requests. Despite this, they had great difficulty in getting anyone to respond to them.
Delays in communication by key authorities led to a situation where part of the Havana community was suspicious about the event and the amount of visitors remained small. A total of 250 people visited the expo and its 15 exhibitors in the five expo days. Most of the visitors were children.
It was not until the last expo day that the young people in the community found the event. ‘When they did come, they loved it,’ says Shetunyenga and tells that the visiting youth were hoping that something like the expo would become a permanent feature of Havana life.
Havana is one of the informal settlements in the outskirts of Windhoek. Services and entertainment opportunities other than bars are scarce.
‘This was a new community-led initiative through which we wanted to give an example to our own people. We have good ideas, and we have talent to do things, just as other people are doing. We all should remember this,’ Shetunyenga says, adding that it is however impossible for a community group to organise an event like an expo totally on their own. Timely cooperation from the authorities in terms of permissions and communication, as well as partnerships with companies in the formal economy are needed.
The Inclusive and Collaborative Local Tech Innovation Hub is a long-term partner of the community of Havana entrepreneurs whose initiative the expo was. Currently we are providing technical support for a crowdfunding platform called Namstarter, which provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs in Havana to raise seed funding for small business ventures.
The Havana Annual Expo was organised in the Havana Community Sports Field from 30 October to 3 November. The event was sponsored by Coca Cola Namibia and the Tulongeni Pevamare Mini Market. The organisers are hoping to make the event an annual tradition. They can be contacted by phone +264 81 247 0589 (Chairperson Mr Onesmus Shetunyenga) or +264 81 2372675 (Secretary Ms Tresia Shikongo) or by email tresiashikongon [at] gmail.com.