Securing Water for Food Unconference at GEC

SWFF Innovators Share Lessons Learned, Successes, and Failures in “Unconference”

Securing Water for Food innovators participated in the annual, innovator-led “Unconference” after the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg, South Africa.

SWFF innovators participated in eight innovator-led discussions that were meant to create a space where the delegation could:

  • Could share their lessons learned and stories of failure or success
  • Advise fellow innovators on how to approach various entrepreneurial processes
  • Promote confidence building amongst the innovators

Reel Gardening, MyRain, and Conservation South Africa provided their experiences in developing 5-year financial forecasts and described the process as “learning how to be forward thinking.” They suggested tools (e.g., such visual board and modeling programs), dividing the plan into smaller goals, and working backwards from your goals.

The customer is the boss, but getting honest feedback is not always easy.

Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies (AST) provided details about the complexities of entering a new regulatory market, detailed the difficult institutional barriers that the business faced, and recommended hiring a regulatory legal counselor who can advise teams and help ease the difficulties in these kinds of circumstances.

When discussing how innovators could identify good early adopters, World Hope and FutureWater’s consensus was that everyone had different approaches, but the stages remained consistent.

Both speakers explained that “innovators should create awareness about their product through strategic communication, test drive their product, allow people to purchase the product, mitigate access to the product, and provide after sales support.”

Green Heat and aQysta shared their experience using surveys and their struggles in obtaining accurate and useful information about their product, noting that it was important to always be willing to adapt your process and shift gears to obtain optimal feedback results. They all agreed that “the customer is the boss, but getting honest feedback is not always easy.”

Another session allowed participants to share stories about difficulties and disappointments they have had in working with various partners. Si Technologies and Reel Gardening identified key traits that define the success of all partnerships: having aligned goals and regular communication both from a distance and on the ground.

Practical Action and Aybar addressed different ways of documenting their work for improved communication to influence others and share the impact that their projects were achieving.

Overall, SWFF innovators benefitted from the programming. “This is the reason I come to these events, to be a part of the SWFF community and interact with other innovators,” Khanjan Mehta, GRO Greenhouses said.