GIZ + iLab ICT for small business training; a milestone in Liberia’s road transport sector capacity development

A training organised by German Development Corporation in Liberia (GIZ) and implemented by iLab. The course introduces Information Communications and Technologies (ICT) to Liberian contractors, 30 persons from the transport sector are trained on computer basics, data cu-ration and storage, Internet basics, Email etiquette  how to create and manage their Facebook business page and how to use Open office tools for basic expenses and sales using Libre Office; a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). The training will benefit the participants in various ways:

  • Accurate tracking and recording of their business or projects
  • Global marketing/ advertising of their business
  • How to communicate with their clients via email
  • How to use the internet for research on prices and ways to improve on already existing business/service

 The training is actually on a slow pace because some of the trainees have absolutely no knowledge on computer which is quite challenging for us.

Having 2 sessions; 15 persons in one session, the training will last for 2 hours every Tuesday to Friday for 4 weeks after which successful participants will proceed to the intermediate course.

 We at iLab believe that Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs) can play a key role in the growth and development of Liberia.

Intro to Branding/Advertisement for small business

Intro to Branding & Advertising for small business– August 19 – 23, 3:00-5:00 pm. Having 16 persons registered for the course, they are using Scribus; a free and open source software (FOSS) to create business logos, brochures, business cards and advertising materials. This course will focus on branding and marketing for customers.

 

So what is branding, anyway? Branding is the process of building a positive collection of perceptions about your business in your customers’ minds. Customers of your business may make a purchase (or avoid a purchase) based on their perception of your brand.

When people encounter your business’s name, they automatically conjure up impressions and memories that determine what they believe about you:

  • Sources: Their notions may be the result of communications you’ve had with customers, or they may be the result of good or bad publicity or word-of-mouth.
  • Exposure: Your customers may have a deep well of perceptions about you, or your slate may be nearly clear of any impressions whatsoever.

Regardless of whether the beliefs a customer holds about you are many or few, good or bad, or accurate or inaccurate, they comprise the image of your brand in your customer’s mind — and they influence how your customer thinks and buys.

Your brand image lives in your customers’ minds, whether you intentionally put it there or not. Branding is the route to making sure that the brand image you have is the brand image you want.

iLab’s logo

 

Think you have a great product? Unfortunately, no one’s going to know about it unless you advertise.

Advertising, if done correctly, can do wonders for your product sales, and you know what that means: more revenue and more success for your business. But be warned: it is not a panacea.

Below is a list of what advertising can do for your business,

  • Remind customers and inform prospective customers about the benefits of your product or service
  • Establish and maintain your distinct identity
  • Enhance your reputation
  • Encourage existing customers to buy more of your product/service
  • Attract new customers and replace lost ones
  • Slowly build sales to boost your bottom line
  • Promote your business to customers, investors, and others.

ICT for small Business

Not many of us know we need ICT for our small business…But I tell you confidently that we really do need ICT in our businesses, no matter how small we think the business is. I’m not saying that you have to buy a computer and pay for an internet subscription before you can sell or advertise your products/services. The time you spend in the cyber cafe checking your emails, Chatting and Facebook-ing, you can use a little amount of the time to sell and advertise your products/services online.

Another interesting course “ICT for small Business” is going on for “free” at  iLab_Liberia with 15 persons (Ladies and guys inclusive) selected out of 51 persons that registered for the course. It’s a 5 days class, 2 hrs each day. They are taught email etiquette, how to create a business account on Face book and Twitter and also how to use Gnu Cash for accounting purposes in your business.

A Remarkable Summer Experience at the iLab

Hi everyone! I’m Zane Cochran, the visiting instructor at the iLab for summer 2013. While I have been here I have had the opportunity to teach a variety of courses including Physical Computing, Beginner and Intermediate Python Programming, and Photography. It has been a remarkable experience being in Liberia and getting to work so closely with the other talented members of the iLab team!

 

As an introduction, I am a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and studied computer science at Berry College. This fall I will begin graduate studies in Human Computer Interaction at Georgia Tech University. I first heard about the great work that was being done in the iLab from Dr. Ellen Zegura, a professor at Georgia Tech who works closely with the Carter Center and frequently partners with the iLab’s efforts. I arrived in mid-May and will sadly be heading home at the end of June, though my time here has been wonderful.

 

One of the most exciting opportunities I have had in the iLab is getting to share my passion for physical computing with a very select group of students. Physical Computing is a course where students are encouraged to learn the concepts of programming and circuit design through building fun and interactive objects. Through overwhelming support from many friends and colleagues in the U.S., I was able to raise the necessary funds through a crowdfunding campaign I created called “Makers in Monrovia” to purchase all the equipment, tools, and components necessary to allow physical computing to have a permanent presence in the iLab as more and more students discover it.

 

The course was met with equal excitement by the students who were accepted into the program. Throughout six rigorous weeks of training, they learned principles of interactivity, prototyping, hardware design, and programming using the Arduino platform. Arduino is an inexpensive microcontroller and a programming environment that, while popular in North America and Europe, is just now beginning to emerge in Africa. The students completing this course will be among the first few here to have used it extensively. Their greatest accomplishment, however, will be demonstrating their final creative projects at the end of the course. These final projects are all targeted toward an interactive object that improves life in the kitchen, though each is very unique and the result of students using their imaginations to innovate. The will have a great opportunity to present their prototypes during a public event where they will get to explain their creative process and the outcomes of what they learned during the course. I was also privileged to have given a public talk during the evening on the subject of Physical Computing and the impact it is having both in the world of computer science and in Africa. The talk was well attended and generated interest for future courses and opportunities to learn more about this exciting new field of learning.

 

Teaching Python courses is quickly becoming a summer tradition at the iLab. I was happy to teach three Python courses during my stay in Liberia. In addition to a Beginner and an Intermediate Python course, I enjoyed teaching the newly created Python for Girls course. This course consisted of 15 specially selected young women who showed a particular interest in learning programming. Through the few short weeks of this class, it has quickly become one of my favorite courses to teach. The young women in this class have dedicated themselves to becoming amazing programmers and through their hard word and willingness to help each other, they are succeeding! My other students who will be completing the Intermediate Python course have also done remarkably well and are excited to take the fundamentals of programming that they have learned and apply it toward a variety of interests including database management, web development, software and mobile application design, and learning additional programming languages.

 

Finally, it was a real treat for me to be able to share my second passion, photography, during the Introduction to Photography course that I taught. I was quite shocked to see how quickly students improved their style and technique in capturing the unique life and landscape of Liberia in the few short weeks that we were able to meet. One particularly interesting aspect of this class was the students’ willingness to meet with me outside of class on Saturdays for a “Photography Outing” where we would travel together as a group to various places around Monrovia to gain practical experience using the DSLR cameras and implement the techniques I taught during our class lectures. This led to a number of unique experiences and the collection of student photography can be seen at the course’s Flickr page here. Though the course has concluded, the students will continue to use the iLab’s DSLR cameras and meet as a regular group to capture photos of this beautiful city and country.

 

In every course, the intelligence, dedication and passion that I have seen in my students is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Whether it’s students staying well past the end of class time to share what they’ve learned during class on their blogs or coming in on Saturdays to meet during an unofficial programming group I created to learn Processing (a visually-intensive language based on Java), the self-motivation I have seen in these students is unparalleled and speaks well to continued growth and future of Liberia. I’m just thankful to have been a very small part of it!

 

 

iLab June events and trainings announced – ICT For Girls as the key theme

Hello everyone!

 

iLab’s public trainings and events for June are now posted online and ready for registration. See http://ilabliberia.org/events/. In addition to some of the usual recurring events and trainings, there are plenty of new topics for courses and events, including:

  • ICT careers workshop, Mastering the internet and Python programming – targeted for Girls
  • Open government, Freedom of information and transparency
  • Entrepreneurship – ICT for small businesses and startups
  • More technical programming and physical computing courses

It’s a busy and exciting month with the key theme being ICT and girls. If you are a programmer (or a photographer!), this is also a good month to visit iLab and say hi to our fantastic intern Zane Cochran, who is steering a number of classes to do remarkable things!

 

Don’t see what you like? Make a suggestion. Note also that we also provide organizations with
• Customized trainings for your organization
• Customized solutions for your ICT systems development and services
• Facilities for hosting events or accessing technology (space/equipment for hire)

 

Hope to see you soon at iLab!
Coming up in July: ICT4Girls, programming courses, data visualizations, open government…