By Priscilla Nyathi

It’s been an interesting few months on the Jamlab Accelerator Programme. It began in the middle of a Covid-19-induced lockdown and like many others affected by the lockdowns, we were forced to reflect on our activities and how they had changed due to the pandemic.

The decision to make changes as to how we functioned as a business, including developing our media presence, were ideas brewing in our minds long before Covid entered the picture but plans had to be moved up since the pandemic threatened to derail our existing income streams.

The creation of Greenspace Zambia, as a platform for other garden lovers in Zambia concentrating on environmentally conscious gardening, started with the development of our farm and a desire to share what we are doing with others. The interactions we had with clients of our plant nursery drove home the need for more information on plants in the context of how to care for and manage them under Zambian weather conditions.

As consumers of social media, we appreciate the value and impact that video has in today’s culture to reach and influence wider audiences and it was through visual media that we then felt that we could grow Greenspace Zambia to a much wider audience.

The guidance we received from the Accelerator Programme helped us see different aspects of our vision and expand our ideas and assumptions of what we were initially striving for thus slowly focusing our efforts on achievable goals.

It was very useful to be in a practical space where we learned things that were immediately applicable to your situation, aiding us to not only become clear on what we were creating but in how we differentiate ourselves from the numerous other people creating similar online content.

Surprisingly, the most powerful benefit of the programme has been making friends with the other participants, who like us, are on their own journey of development. Within our Jamlab cohort, we have found ourselves amongst a group of people who share the challenges of making their dream a reality, especially when we are surrounded by people in our own lives who do not share the confidence in our vision or understand our need to accept the risks in pursuing what they might see as an unconventional path.

Regardless of the media idea being proposed, so many of the challenges of a startup are the same. Some members of the current cohort have huge dreams, which also challenge us to look at ourselves differently in terms of the quality of the products we want to put out into the market.

On a practical level, thinking through the business model and revenue streams challenged us most of all. In the long run, the quality of the product and growth of the business will depend on finance and we have had to ask ourselves some serious questions about how we intend to secure and grow those revenue streams.

Naively, we thought that we could manage the project on hard work and a shoestring budget but realised that for what we wanted to do it was not possible. The acceptance that we needed different revenue streams which could include corporate sponsorship or advertising was not something we had even wanted to consider thinking it would ‘contaminate’ the work we did. However, through the process of defining revenue streams and how we could use them to work to our advantage, we began to appreciate it as a legitimate option.

We would not be at this point if it was not for Phil, our mentor. His patience and understanding during the whole process have helped us understand our business better and the different options on how our vision could proceed into a viable business. We are grateful to him and the rest of the team for the work they place into running the programme and we are excited for the next few months as we turn theory into practice.

*Nyathi is the co-founder of Greenspace Zambia

The JamLab Accelerator is a six-month hothouse programme for journalism and media innovators. It is based at Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in the heart of Johannesburg

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