Our First Innovation Hub
Before we built our first Innovation Hub, we were teaching out of community centers, living rooms, and even outside when weather permitted. As word started to get around about what we were doing, having our own home became an absolute necessity. We needed autonomy, consistent access to electricity and internet, and a place we could meet – any day, any time.
We also were determined to build a workspace that was as innovative and unique as we felt our program was. In all things, we’ve always strived to be uncommon. That includes our working / learning environments, so we started putting pen to paper and dreaming up ideas for our first shipping container Innovation Hub.
So many amazing, fortuitous, lucky moments happened throughout this first Innovation Hub experience but there are two moments that really stick out. First was our correspondence with Julius Taminiau of Julius Taminiau Architects. Right when we had decided we wanted to work with containers, we scoured the internet for architects that might be interested in what we were doing. We sent out cold emails and believe it or not, Julius got back to us. Not only was he interested in our work, his team was happy to help us design this first space, free of charge!
Since this first Hub, Julius and his team have more or less consulted on all of our next projects and we are extremely grateful for the support they have shown our program and students. Thank you Julius!
The next major break for our organization was meeting the Australian Embassy through our host and partner, the Dzikwa Trust. The Dzikwa Trust is an extraordinary organization that supports 100s of orphaned children in Zimbabwe from primary school to university. The Dzikwa Trust is a beautiful space in the heart of Dziwarasekwa which provides free meals, extra lessons, cultural activities, sports, agricultural training and countless other amazing opportunities for the youths in the community.
Together with Dzikwa, we applied for grant funding from the Australian Embassy to support the construction costs of this first Innovation Hub. And so began a relationship between Uncommon.org and the Australian Embassy that still exists today (the AU Embassy has supported all 6 of our Innovation Hubs in Zimbabwe!).
We are eternally grateful to Ambassador Bronte Moules and her team, primarily Alyce, Nyarie and Trystan, for believing in our work and helping us impact thousands of lives in Zimbabwe. Thank you Australia!!
The launch of this first Innovation Hub in Dzivarasekwa, Zimbabwe in July of 2019 was the first major catalyst for Uncommon. With a home we were able to dramatically improve the programs we provided to our beneficiaries. We have been able to host corporate leaders and donors and attract new support for our work.
Within two years of launching our first space, we’ve gone on to build 5 more and help bring technology education and employment to thousands in Zimbabwe. We are especially grateful to the Dzikwa Trust and Australian Embassy for making this all possible.