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Eight2Five Reaches New Ground Despite COVID-19 Challenges

The Eight2Five Innovation Hub recently celebrated its first anniversary of bringing together creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs.

The Hub, powered by Old Mutual Zimbabwe, has in the past year, been focusing on creating a modern, professional, and energetic work environment to stimulate the creativity and productivity of entrepreneurial businesses and their teams!

Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eight2Five Innovation Hub has had to overcome the challenges with innovative and forward-thinking ideas.

“Over the past year, the company has supported entrepreneurs running small enterprises and making a meaningful impact in their value chain and Zimbabwe by providing office space, mentoring, skills development, capacity building and a network,” reads part of the statement from the hub.

To celebrate the successes of the first year, the hub held a hybrid event attended by esteemed guests including members of the Old Mutual Executive Committee, Eight2Five partners,  Minister Kirsty Coventry, and entrepreneurs from the Eight2Five Innovation Hub.

Officiating at the event, Coventry applauded efforts being made by the Eight2Five Innovation Hub to give youths opportunities to be entrepreneurs and expose them to different markets.

“Eight2Five Innovation Hub has been very instrumental in partnering with young entrepreneurs and linking them to real opportunities that exist in both local and regional markets. It is an opportunity that every young entrepreneur should not take for granted,” Coventry said.

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Despite the Covid 19 pandemic, the Eight2Five Innovation Hub has birthed groundbreaking training programs that have impacted over 12 000 entrepreneurs; the nationwide program dubbed Value Creation Challenge in partnership with the British Council, the Virtual Speed Mentoring initiative launched on 26 March 2021, and many others.

Old Mutual Group CEO Sam Matsekete said the current times demand that the young be proactive in innovations.

“We have come a long way, and the year has been a learning experience and a green light to continue exploring opportunities to continue innovating solutions for our customers and all stakeholders,” Matsekete.

In total, the Eight2Five Hub has held over 35 pieces of training and hosted 17 events over the past year. Eight2Five Innovation Hub plans to continue developing strategic programs to elevate the levels of innovation by effectively engaging startups, and other stakeholders such as the government, investors, and academia.

Head of Group Marketing and Innovation, Lillian Mbayiwa, shared success stories at the first year anniversary celebrations.

“Over 12,000 entrepreneurs came and interacted with the space, and with our programs for further capacitation. Eight2Five Hub has managed to have one of the entrepreneurs sign an MOU with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority about how they can profile the wonders of Zimbabwe through virtual and augmented reality.

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“We also managed to facilitate a production agreement for another entrepreneur with a company in the UK through our partnership with the British Council. The list is endless about the great things that are happening at Eight2Five,” she said.

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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