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ICTA holds series of “ImagineIF” workshops inspiring Undergraduates on entrepreneurship

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Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), the apex government agency for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Sri Lanka, conducts workshops under the ‘’ImagineIF program’’, inspiring university undergraduates on entrepreneurship. The program aims at building entrepreneurs who can transform viable business ideas to globally scalable startups.  Content delivered at workshops plants the seeds of entrepreneurship by laying the foundation to be a successful entrepreneur in the long run. The program was initiated in 2018, has indeed become a talking point among university students who aspire to become successful entrepreneurs. ImagineIF has already been hosted in eight state universities in Sri Lanka benefiting over 1500 undergraduates from different faculties of the state universities and non-state universities/ higher education institutes. 

The program runs in workshop style for three days in a hosting university. The first day of the workshop bringsto light the basic concepts of entrepreneurship and educates the participants on how to validate an idea, how to market products, how to research and come up with new ideas whilst converting that to a more feasible business model in the market. The second day of the workshop filled with fun and enthusiasm as the students are asked to form groups and fabricate viable business concepts. Parallelly,   mentoring sessions take place facilitated by a group of industry experts and entrepreneurs who volunteer and educate the participants with much needed knowledge on developing their business plans upon the business idea. The third day proves to be very interactive, supported by mentoring and facilitation, followed by a pitching competition which allows the participants to present their business models in front of a panel of judges who eventually awards the participants with industry validated certificates.

This long-term initiative will bode well for the start-up ecosystem as the students who are eager to move to the next step will join hands with their colleagues to develop their business plans and implement them in the future. Moreover, these workshops help in shaping the university students from a younger age expecting them to develop thinking and reasoning skills, problem solving skills and researching skills to eventually create globally scalable start-ups.

The need of the concept was first initiated in 2017 as part of the Disrupt Asia program.  Discussions with state and non-state university academics , administrative bodies of universities, University Grants Commission and the Startup Eco-System; resulted in conceptualizing the ImagineIF program that has actively supported the undergraduates who are aspiring to be entrepreneurs.. The participants were in full praise of the workshops which yielded new networks and connected them by being a platform to share knowledge and produce novel business ideas. This professional approach to entrepreneurship attracted the attention of many University students who were keen on participating and has been highly productive and promising as they have the potential and capability to build a start-up.

The students were given the opportunity to express themselves and come up with their own ideas supported by their colleagues which was in complete contrast to the system which had been in practice in today’s universities. Moreover, they got a glimpse of what it takes to be an entrepreneur and this would go down as a mini industrial training session which will be exclusively implemented by universities in the years to come. Moreover, the workshops improved the knowledge of the participants and created enthusiasm in the subject of entrepreneurship and overall, it was a novel experience for majority of them who were not from IT and Business related backgrounds. Irrespective of subjects, students from different faculties participated, made diverse and multi-faceted groups to run the business ideas and it was a huge boost in the context of the whole program.

As the next step of the ongoing initiative, ICTA plans to conduct vertical based inter-university programs where students from same faculties of all the universities are invited to one platform and conduct a series of workshops supported by the experts and the entrepreneurs from relevant domains.

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