One of the most exciting parts of volunteering with the iHub program is seeing the vision grow. How amazing it was to launch the second IHub location in just 18 months from our overall program launch at Philippi Village (PV) in August, 2019. The Gautang Province (GP) iHub was launched on February 8th in a trendy commercial complex called the Media Mill – in the college area of Johannesburg. This newly leased GP iHub is our first attempt to expand our operating model to multi-site, using the PV as a support and training delivery centre and the GP iHub operating as a satellite. Our intake process narrowed down 11 excellent adult candidates (5 ladies and 6 men) to launch our inaugural program in GP.
A small group of the core team flew up to Jo-burg March 17-18 to get a first-hand view of the facility, the multi-site training model from the viewpoint of the satellite location, meet the leadership and new students and hold face-face planning sessions. What a privilege it was to join this group, experience the vibe and energy of the students and this new location, meet our 11 new learners, and our local leadership and feed into the future planning of our iHub operations in GP.
As I met and chatted with several of the students on their breaks throughout the two days on-site, I got a first-hand understanding of their passion to learn and take a career in the digital economy very seriously. We’ve clearly taken in high-quality candidates; several of them are entrepreneurs, holding down a job in addition to studying at the iHub 5 days/week, showing their commitment to take advantage of this very special opportunity to learn and develop themselves and hopefully launch an excellent career following their graduation from the program.
Leadership training facilitator delivering lesson from PV iHub (Cape Town)
Zoom meeting screen: both locations connected!
A key part of this launch is getting our delivery model right with respect to delivering content through a facilitator in our main (WC) location and still deliver an immersive, high-quality, and integrated experience for all learners and co-facilitators in the satellite (GP) location. As seen in the photos above, we too are making use of Zoom meeting functionality (like the rest of the world!) to coordinate content delivery and connect students and trainers at both locations, attempting to create a “single class” experience for our learners.
We have much yet to fine tune in order to get the video, audio, and overall experience to feel like one large classroom out of multiple locations, but so far its been working quite well as we are just at the 6 week point in our 12-week first phase training on digital and soft skills fundamentals as well as leadership and identity.
A key to any new expansion is having competent local leadership. Liz Skosana, shown above has been an excellent new hire into the role of Hub Coordinator and is showing great promise and leadership to be able to take on further responsibilities in the core team with program design and has such a heart and passion for the students. She has her Masters in Social Work and was a thriving entrepreneur before being recruited into the iHub team.
Liz has already built great rapport and respect with the students as she presides over the daily lectures and supports the self-study time five days per week with the students.
Our newly-leased space provides us plenty of room to expand the program, have separate breakout and self-study areas, offices where quiet meetings with coaches can take place. And there is plenty of room for more volunteer co-facilitators and coaches we look forward to adding to our local Johannesburg team in the months ahead.
We’ve got an excellent start, great location, awesome local leadership and passionate students. There’ll be plenty of opportunity to learn and get better at operating across multiple sites as we grow and God-willing expand to future satellite locations, implementing our training model in order to outwork our values (shown above) as we help build this nation.