A team of students, academics and staff from MANCOSA private higher education institution will participate in the first South African Virtual Design Thinking Challenge which prepares students to develop solutions for local challenges.
From 11 to 14 September, young, bright South African minds will compete with teams from all over the world to virtually go on a user-centric design journey while getting mentorship and coaching from international and South African Design Thinking and innovation experts. They will develop solutions to tackle challenges around education, health care, business and community in their respective countries.
The challenge is hosted by Impact Week, a non-profit programme that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship skills and progression in developing and emerging economies as a foundation for sustainable growth by establishing sustainable business models using Design Thinking.
Design Thinking, which has a human-centred core, is a process for creative thinking and problem-solving. It encourages organisations to focus on the people they are creating for, which leads to better products, services and internal processes.
MANCOSA is a member of Honoris United Universities, the first private pan-African higher education network, which places high value on Education for Impact whereby students are prepared to be competitive in the working world. MANCOSA’s qualifications groom students to be analytical thinkers and problem-solvers, increasing their employability in careers in local and global environments.
Those from MANCOSA who will take part in Virtual Design Thinking Challenge #SOUTHAFRICAVSCOVID19 are four students Yajna Sapna Premdutt, Alysa Jaidene Munian, Kerryn-Leigh Roos and Jeron Niveel Jayrum; and three staff members Adhir Debiecharan, Shinaaz Zoutenburg and Muleka Nengwani. They will be coached by MANCOSA academics Sooraya Ebrahim and Debapriyo Nag.
Ms Roos said she felthonoured and privileged to be part of such an awesome life-changing experience.
“I have met such talented and intellectual people who have helped challenge my thinking process. I believe that if we are blessed enough to be the winners of the Virtual Design Thinking Challenge, we can help so many female South Africans with empowerment and employment. This will bring such joy to me. I hope to learn a lot and broaden my knowledge.”
Ms Ebrahim said the challenge gives MANCOSA and its students the unique opportunity to create an impact during a critical and challenging time and will provide MANCOSA participants with the competitive advantage to become “leaders who lead with a unique difference”.
“It’s time to reframe our thinking to thrive in this new digitally-driven era. The Design Thinking challenge will open participants’ minds to new vistas, thus providing cutting edge solutions to challenges facing South Africa.
“Through Design Thinking, new perspectives will be visualised in order to prompt our ‘Warrior Leaders’ to become effective, ethical, discerning solutions-driven decision-makers.
“Their decisions will not only be data-driven or digitally savvy but will incorporate the finer nuances of life which, essentially, is to be ‘humane’,” she said.
The Virtual Design Thinking Challenge #SOUTHAFRICAVSCOVID19, which will take place over 60 hours, will see participants engaging Design Thinking and user-centric design toolkits to come up with solutions and strategies.
The Design Thinking methodology comprises six phases. Participants will complete the entire process of Understanding – Observing – Synthesising – Ideating – Prototyping – Testing within three days. Participants will interact in a digital briefing session via Zoom and will work in individual virtual workspaces.
Winning ideas will be rewarded with financial support and mentorship from Impact Week in order to implement the solution in the economy and/or society. The Virtual Design Thinking Challenge will not only tackle the challenges caused by COVID-19 but also the broader range of challenges prevalent in the lives of the people in South Africa.