The lockdown for Nigeria was eased over two weeks ago with a phase 1 plan. Prior to that, we had continued to strategise on how we were going to resume operations at Ventures Park. Ventures Park is an artsy curated coworking community in Abuja which I am the CEO of. Being very community-centric and a hub for founders and innovators, our model was affected by the pandemic. But in all of this, our major concern was our community of entrepreneurs.
A majority of them are Startups that are still figuring things out. How do they survive a crisis that they are inadequately prepared for? We decided to prepare them the best we can and hold their hands. They had questions, they had fears and we wanted to support them through it. We launched a Business Unusual Session which was designed to bring industry experts with the experience to provide information and knowledge for our community. The response has been great. We’ve had founders reach out to us as they reevaluate their model. We’ve even seen new businesses born to respond to the crisis.
Now we are preparing to reopen our facility for our members to resume work in the office. A lot of other co-working spaces and businesses reopened earlier. We took an approach to wait and watch. Continuous data collection is absolutely important for us. We observed global and local responses and had meetings with important stakeholders. We have planned and combed through every detail as much as we can. We’ve had meetings and run through scenarios. Besides the expected measures such as;
- Frequent sanitisation
- Distribution of masks and instituting mandatory usage
- Social distancing protocols
- Contactless card access
- The provision of wipes
We decided to take everyone’s safety a step further by partnering with a medical diagnostic company called mDaas to deploy a technology created specifically to track and monitor people in relation to the facility. This technology is called Sentinel X. With this in place, we are able to monitor the risk of every individual in our facility. Sentinel X utilises a two-pronged approach in ensuring safety. There would be an initial pre-screening for everyone who would be working at the Park to understand their risk levels. Then a continuous daily screening for everyone before entering the facility. We are happy to reopen and resume operations.
A few things I have come to accept is that now more than ever, it is important to be iterative and learn quickly. We cannot be afraid of the new reality. It would come regardless. People would need to learn, adapt and lean into it. This crisis could be the perfect catalyst to launch new ideas and new business models. But in order to do that, you have to embrace the changing environment. You must lean in. Don’t pause and hide hoping that it’ll just pass. Press play and get yourself in the game.
I would like to appreciate our community of founders, both physical and virtual for inspiring us to be resilient. We live in service to you. You have all been patient and kind. And we appreciate you for your support as well.
I would also like to appreciate all our partners and collaborators who have provided guidance and support to us and our community.
And most importantly, to the team at Ventures Park, your dedication and passion continue to fuel the dream. Thank you all for your understanding.
Now, let’s continue to build the future of Africa.