Zimbabwe’s leading financial services provider Old Mutual Zimbabwe and Udugu Institute have launched an innovation hub which will house and capacitate young entrepreneurs’ start-ups.
The hub, Eight2Five Innovation Hub, was launched on Wednesday and seeks to increase innovation capabilities within the business.
Through the Hub, Old Mutual will also build its product offering through partnerships with start-ups and entrepreneurs.
On the other hand, Udugu Institute seeks to create an institute that allows young innovators and innovation to thrive as they work to create the future of Africa. It is expected that the partnership with Old Mutual will drive this vision forward.
The Hub provides a co-working space that includes hot desks, private offices, meeting rooms, a cafeteria as well as an auditorium for hosting events.
It will also run incubation programmes that assist start-ups to formalise their businesses, and acceleration programmes that will help small businesses get to the next level and prepare for investor engagement.
Old Mutual plans to expand the concept to other major cities, as well as increase its programmes, in order to accommodate those in the informal sector who are currently marginalised.
Speaking at the launch, Old Mutual Zimbabwe group CEO, Sam Matsekete, said the hub signifies an essential element of the company’s evolution as a business.
“Current times are changing very fast, demanding more to be done and achieved in less time. There seem to be more complexities, demanding more solutions,” Matsekete said.
He added: “Therein lies the biggest opportunity of today, to innovate and continue to innovate solutions. Innovation should be the cornerstone of any organization that has the customer at heart. By innovating, we continue to create value for the benefit of customers and all stakeholders.”
Youth, Sports, Art and Recreation minister, Kirsty Coventry, applauded Old Mutual for believing in the youth of Zimbabwe, and providing them with a Hub that is world-class standard.
“Talent is equally spread but opportunity is not,” Coventry said adding: “ By launching Eight2Five, Old Mutual is creating an opportunity for young people, and it’s up to them to grab the opportunity with both hands and run with it. You may stumble and fall, but the Old Mutual team is here to help you over the finish line.”
Old Mutual Zimbabwe’s head of group marketing and innovation, Lillian Mbayiwa, said the hub was important to Old Mutual and its customer-centric vision.
“Without customers, we become irrelevant. Customer needs are continually changing. The product, service or idea we offer may be exactly what our customer needs today, but tomorrow they may need something else,” she said.
“In order to stay on top of our customer’s needs, we saw it fit to create a catalyst that will incubate our innovations. “Through the innovative ideas the Hub will generate, we hope to see market changes coming from a distance, so that we can provide solutions for customer problems, before they even know they need them.
“You cannot meet the needs of customers long-term unless you recognise the importance of innovation and act on it.
The Eight 2Five innovation Hub is meant to find and develop new ideas not only to keep our valuable customers engaged, but also to steer the nation’s economy towards a brighter and more successful future.”