Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Week 2 - Starting from Scratch

After a great team dinner Friday night and day of fun on Saturday (for me that meant going on Safari!) we started off fresh and ready to roll on Week 2. 

Sunday morning, we took part in an Africa Code Week event -- teaching Rwandan school teachers how to code with a program called Scratch - designed by MIT. If you are curious or have kids, check it out! It's a great way to make coding fun for them, and introduce them to a skill that can be very useful later on.

It was inspiring to see these women dress up and show up on a Sunday to learn something new that they could share with their students. The trainers were very good. They conducted the classes in Kinyarwanda and English, as not all the teachers are fluent in English.  The ladies were bright, and Scratch is simple. But if you've never used a laptop before, or have limited knowledge, it's not so easy. But they did it!

I enjoyed the class. I can now say I have learned to code! I have a walking kitty cat animation that says my name and meows as it walks back and forth on screen. And a stick figure that can jump rope. Thanks Scratch. 

After the training our team was invited to a special VIP lunch. We heard inspiring speeches from the Minister of Education about the need to increase digital literacy here in order to create a better future for all. We heard from a young woman from Intel who is working with the ministry to digitize classrooms across Rwanda. 

The head of SAP's Corporate Social Responsibility team in EMEA, and the MD of SAP Labs in Ireland both spoke about the promise of Africa in ICT, and why SAP is making such heavy investments in education and awareness, for example, sponsorship of Africa Code Week. 

Monday's Building Blocks
Monday was productive. Van, Richard and I were working on all cylinders, making great headway. We got to see our young Web developer's first try at a structure for the site we are building. We are now working on a wireframe and site map.

We had a very interesting discussion with a representative of the "National Capacity Building Secretariat."  This government entity is tasked with upskilling the Rwandan population in seven key sectors including agriculture---in which most of the population is engaged. 

Our contact there had some intelligent questions about the viability of our project. Alex, in turn, had extremely compelling arguments supporting the vision. It was a productive exchange that helped us validate both the challenges we see, and the great potential.

Tuesday - Adding On
Meetings continued, this day with the CEO of RwandaOnline. This private company has a 25- year contract with the Rwandan government to digitize services across all ministries. Things like paying fees, applying for a passport, etc. can be done electronically--online and on mobile phones. At the end of the 25 years,  the company will hand the platform over to the government. 

The meeting produced some very interesting information. In fact, we may have found a solution to one of our greatest challenges---establishing "channels" for getting our learning portal out to the masses in the key industries we are targeting. More to come.

Wednesday...Ah, we progressed with the wireframe, and the guys got some great advice from Mark from our Sabbatical team about designing databases---I stayed away from that conversation. All I know is that it is essential to developing the back-end of our site. I need not know another thing. Ha!

Tomorrow we are conducting market research at the big marketplace here in Kigali. Should be quite interesting and fun. It's been a great week. We have research, mockups, wireframe and more. We know a lot more now about our target audience. 

We no longer feel we are starting from scratch.