Hubs mushrooming in South Sudan

“May be next time Mark Zuckerberg should visit South Sudan too?” A young man in my neighborhood thought out loud. Following the fame of the Facebook CEO’s recent visits to the hubs in Sub Saharan Africa; ccHub of Nigeria and iHub of Kenya many in South Sudan been left wondering is this legend could have made it to the country. If there was peace, Yes we could have pulled him over as well. Well, yes I mean innovation spaces have an attractive thing about them relating to tourism per se the tourism of a country’s art of practical genius minds. And so it is said, like minds move along in harmony.What is happening in South Sudan in regards to that?

Well, less than one and a half year ago a group of youth came up with ideas of providing solution to the challenges they faced as the ambitious in their community. Little did they know they were already tapping into hub mentality that most of the countries out there are benefiting from. What should they name it? an Academy? no, so what is it? Lab?After juggling with lots of names and input from hub oriented partners and friends, they finally made up their minds- “JubaHub” gets to be the name.

South Sudan as the world’s youngest nation faces a lot of challenges, most of these pose challenges and barriers to business ecosystem development for the youths, who are the backbone of the country’s workforce. Currently (keeping all factors constant), electricity, connectivity and country’s stability stands out to be the main barriers for the South Sudanese entrepreneurs. So providing an enabling platform for the young south Sudanese to develop businesses from ideas start ups to full business through business incubation and acceleration; tech spirits, mentorship and inter-communal networking remains as the key goals of jHUB.

Just like most of the hubs in the Sub-Saharan Africa focusing on answering challenges faced by communities originate from, in 2015 the jHub( aslo known as Juba Hub)- South Sudan’s first hub was born in Juba South Sudan. Enabled by the funding from German Foreign Ministry for Economic Development, BMZ in collaboration with Icebauhaus, r0g-Agency for Open Culture and Critical Transformation partnering with Kapital Movie Industry Corporation- a local south Sudanese movie producing company.

Originally jHhub was founded to provide space, facility and opportunity for youth to mold their creativity, learn, share or create constructive ideas -which is a big contribution to this country. In Juba now it aims at promoting open learning resources so it offers co- working space that most entrepreneurs in South Sudan lack access to. Most youths of South Sudan have resorted to working in hotels where conditions are not suitable to work in. Thus jHub avails space where they could collaboratively or individually work on their developmental projects. Bearing in mind need for success of these projects,jHUB connects the community with great hands-on coaches and mentors with experience in the relative industries and technology base.Sharing extensive network of entrepreneurs, managers of established companies, investors, business experts and leading universities both on a national and international.

Youth attending Juba Connect, a networking event for business people hosted by jHub. Image credits, KAPITAL

As of now events are the only methodology to unlocking the door of opportunities for people in South Sudan. j-Hub has inspired start ups, and will continue to do now and tomorrow. Incubation of Startups for businesses that suffer lack of proper knowledge for business skills.Offering training in media production, entrepreneurship and tech development to marginalized communities of South Sudan. As well as conducting research using open data, open source resources for or in partnership with willing institutions..

As one may ask , “What could hubs possible contribute to the future of South Sudan? jHUB for instance aims to create sustainable peace and Stability, Educate through Open Educational Resources, Promote Open Urbanization, empower Women and sustainable economic empowerment . As well as develop entrepreneurial sectors Agro-Business Industries and Hands-on business Opportunities in South Sudan.

Hopefully as the youth get empowered and help them act beyond what they think are limitations to them. Apathy and low self-esteem is what has held most people down. While encouraging and facilitating avenues for the youth to be innovative and inventive there is belief that their potentials will be exploited- a good thing for the country. The local youth are always faced with unemployment, so they will be driven to self employment or self establishment.

With the success of these inventions/innovative products, a different picture of South Sudan will be painted to the world. Currently South Sudan is famous for war but there is more to South Sudan than the war, diseases and sad pictures posted online. Utilization and transformation of local resources to useful products. jHUB wishes to increase the number of productive youth and limit idleness- Unguided youth are a problem to any nation. Think of crimes in societies, if we have people focused on constructiveness, creativity, we will have rare cases of youth related crimes.

A few weeks after jHUB was established in 2015, many hubs and labs started mushrooming around the country. Currently in South Sudan hubs and labs are gaining momentum and more than five in less than a year, talk of Jongo hub, Genius Mind, knowledge lab(kD lab), OSpace, and many more others in the making. Mostly focusing on using Information ,Communication, Technology and education initiatives to bring change in what ever ways they can. The more the hands, the more labor availed to quickly uplift this country.

So when all is done and everything returns to normal perhaps Mark Z should make a stop over in South Sudan to check out the growing innovation spaces in here next time? Hopefully.

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