26 June 2014Sydwell Sihlangu, who is doing his Masters degree in crop science at North West University, has managed to cultivate oyster mushrooms in the dry climate of Mahikeng.Usually the mushrooms were grown in temperate and sub-tropical regions, “none of which Mafikeng [Mahikeng] offers, making this a milestone for crop science and a major development in food security”, the university said.The region is semi-arid, and the town’s summer temperatures can go up to 37°C, making it unsuitable for cultivation of the mushrooms. “The oyster mushroom is one of the most important macro fungi, producing high levels of quality protein for various agro-wastes,” the university stated.“I am especially proud, because it is a real breakthrough in terms of crop science,” Sihlangu said. “I plan to work even harder and create more recognition for small-scale farmers and the important role they play in the country’s economy.”Sihlangu worked under the supervision of Dr Khosi RamachelaHow it was doneSihlangu made use of crop residues to successfully grow the mushrooms.The university said the concept used – using non-conventional crop production with existing agricultural systems – could improve conditions for small-scale farmers.“Plant hormones are involved in several stages of plant growth and development. The objective therefore was to investigate the effects of different plant substrates and growth hormones on the growth characteristics and nutrient content of oyster mushroom species in the arid and semi-arid regions.”Thesis and workSihlangu’s thesis is titled “Effect of different plant substrates and growth hormones on the growth characteristics and nutrient content of oyster mushroom species (pleurotus ostreatus) in the semi-arid region”.He has been working with the assistance of Neo Makhobela, an honours student.The Mpumalanga-born student would like to continue to work with small-scale farmers to share his knowledge and possibly train them.SAinfo reporter
There comes in a time the life of many startups when it starts to become clear that everything is not going according to plan. But how do entrepreneurs tell if they need to keep going all in on the original plan, or pivot to something new?To find out how real-world companies deal with that decision, we asked eight successful young entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) when they realized they had to let go of the products, plans and strategies that they worked so hard to develop. The most common indicator? Customers made it clear they wanted something different. 1. As Soon As You CanSmart companies almost always pivot, usually multiple times. You might change the product because it doesn’t meet the needs of the market you identified. You might change the market you’re targeting because another market finds the product more useful, will pay more money, or has a larger pool of prospects. You might change the revenue model to one more attractive to customers. One of your primary goals early on should be to find out which elements of your business model are flawed as quickly as possible, so you can correct the course with minimal wasted time and effort. The key to doing this is having data. Analytics, surveys, face-to-face interviews and more will help you make informed decisions and ensure any pivots you make get you closer to your goal. – Sean Johnson, Digital Intent 2. Find New Goals You’re Aligned WithIt’s quite the blow to the ego when you wake up one day and realize, “Wow… this isn’t working, and it hasn’t been working for a while.” But the good news is, when you know something isn’t working, deep down, you usually also know what would work better. It’s just a matter of allowing yourself to “go there” and tune in to what feels out of alignment with who you are and your mission. The way I do this is by thinking back to a moment when I was working on something using one of my “old” models and feeling really frustrated and irritable. I think of the words that were forming in my head at that time (usually, it’s something like, “If only I could ____ instead”). That’s the clue that tells me what I should change. And voila: you’ve found your pivot point. – Amanda Aitken, The Girl’s Guide to Web Design 3. The Feedback-Induced PivotIt is time to pivot when your customers are consistently giving you the same feedback that things would need to be different for them to purchase. It often takes six months to a year to determine whether or not you are on the right path. Too often, we see entrepreneurs pivot too early before they have talked to enough customers to constitute an adequate data sample. – Eric Corl, Fundable LLC 4. Don’t Throw Out Your Code!Pivots are an evolution of your business, but it doesn’t mean that you need to entirely let go. It can make your transition easier if you view the pivot as setting aside your previous hard work to pursue a strategy that will be stronger. Especially for technology entrepreneurs, I caution against scrapping and forgetting the code you and your team have worked hard to develop, because it’s likely that, even post-pivot, you can adopt or adapt something from the early version of your product for the pivoted deliverables. Shelve your products and plans to pursue your pivot full-force, but don’t let go of them completely. – Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc. 5. Your Customers Tell You What They WantWe started as a free-screenwriting-software company back in 2008. Our goal was to give away screenwriting software and convince producers they should buy screenplays from us. It wasn’t until 2010, when Levi’s came to us and said “Hey, you have a ton of writers on your screenwriting software platform (50,000 at the time), can they work on non-entertainment industry projects?” After we finished the project, we realized we were onto something, and more and more folks starting coming to us asking for help with blog posts, tweets and other written content – so we pivoted to Scripted. Our pivot was driven entirely by customer demand for our product. – Sunil Rajaraman, Scripted.com 6. You Need To Grow To Survive Pivoting is a big decision. The only time to consider pivoting your business is when a huge opportunity is in front of you. If you are going to make a major change to your organization, it’s important to realize that this will affect everything else that goes on. Pivoting is not the way to fix smaller problems. The times when we’ve pivoted a business required looking at our entire operation and refocusing or even replacing sections. When we first launched Yodle, we intended the company to address all the Web services needs of small businesses. As we discovered what it would take to scale that business, we realized we should pivot and focus on just advertising and marketing. – Ben Rubenstein, Yodle 7. You Aren’t In Love With The Future You’re inevitably going to hit setbacks, so it’s important to be motivated about reaching your destination. For that reason, you should pivot when you’re not excited about the long-term direction you’re heading in. Here’s an example from my own business. I own a marketing company. And in the early days, we used to work only one-on-one with clients. When I looked into the future, I realized I would only be able to serve, at most, a couple dozen clients. I saw how this business model was limiting our growth and our overall impact, so we changed course. We pivoted to start offering self-service training in addition to one-on-one services. And we’ve been happier and more successful ever since. – Pete Kennedy, Main Street ROI 8. Your Product Isn’t ConnectingFirst and foremost, it’s always smart to listen to your customers. Their feedback is priceless, and a majority of businesses pivot because either their product/service is not connecting, or they can’t monetize it. When a majority of customers keep saying your product is overpriced, it’s probably true. If you are a service-based company that founded its business model on retainers, switch to a pay-for-performance model. These little things end up making a big difference. – Blake Beshore, TatrouxThe Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons. scott gerber Related Posts How to Cultivate the Skill of Being a Creative … How to Meet the Demands of the Socially Conscio… Tags:#start#StartUp 101#startups AI Will Empower Leaders, Not Replace Them How Connected Communities Can Bolster Your Busi…
January 22, 20192019 is off to a great start at the Cosanti Foundation. We’re very excited to be announcing that we have officially brought on long-time Arizona resident and outdoor enthusiast Patti Baynham as our Interim Director of Finance!Patti will be a boon to the Cosanti foundation and the work that we do at Arcosanti. She brings to the table decades worth of experience as a businessperson and financial manager. You can read about that experience, her love of nonprofit work, and what keeps her here in Arizona in her bio below.We hope you’ll join us in offering Patti a warm to the Cosanti Foundation Team!When a new resident of Arizona, I was quickly introduced to a number of iconic elements of the state, including Cosanti and Arcosanti. Work took me away, but a Grand Canyon river rafting trip lured me back to stay. Arcosanti had never ceased to intrigue me. Little did I know how much stronger my ties to The Cosanti Foundation would become years after that first introduction!With a Masters in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management, I left Arizona to work for Sherwin-Williams. There I gained invaluable experience as an auditor, factory controller, and director of accounting and financial planning. While with Sherwin-Williams I became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).Six years later that rafting trip changed the course of my life. Computer technology was beginning to infiltrate everyday activities, and I went to work for Intel in Chandler. Taking on responsibilities in production planning, materials management, information technology, and project management broadened my travel and business acumen extensively.Ending more than 17 years with Intel, I returned to school to learn about creating wildlife habitat with desert-adapted plants. Soon after graduating I stumbled across an opportunity to become CFO of Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, Arizona. This would allow me to leverage prior professional experiences while learning more about desert plants and wildlife habitat! That role solidified my appreciation and understanding of the need for robust financial management in not-for-profit organizations. I am delighted now to be working with The Cosanti Foundation to help strengthen financial management tools and processes that will underpin the Foundation’s future growth.As a footnote, the life-changing decision I made after our Grand Canyon rafting trip seemed a bit crazy at the time, but I knew it was the right thing to do. In addition to being deeply rooted in Arizona in other ways, I am married to our river guide from that trip!
Categories: Crawford News 05Feb Crawford looks forward to working on efforts unveiled in the 2015-16 Action Plan State Rep. Kathy Crawford today participated in a Capitol news conference to announce important priorities for the current legislative session.House Republican lawmakers outlined their top priorities as the 2015-16 legislative session gets under way. Crawford, R-Novi, said she looks forward to working on policy and speaking with constituents about how best to implement the plan.“The Action Plan gives us a great benchmark to go by as we work on legislation this term,” Crawford said. “I was pleased to see mention of children and senior issues in the plan. As a member of the House committee on Families, Children and Seniors as well as a career advocate for seniors, I am eager to continuing to give voices to these two groups at the state level”Crawford also serves on the House committee on Workforce Talent and Development and said she was excited to see skilled trades a focus in the plan.“It is time that we really focus on students in this state who might be interested in skilled trades but not have the opportunity to learn the skills. Michigan has numerous unfilled positions and now we can foster the talent to fill those positions.”The GOP’s Action Plan for the new legislative session can be accessed at http://gophouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ActionPlan_2015.pdf.
Categories: News,Noble News 16Apr Fight to lower car insurance costs in Michigan must continue By State Rep. Jeff NobleAnother painful reminder that we must reform Michigan’s car insurance system will soon be reflected on our bills.The mandatory annual fee we pay to cover catastrophic medical claims through our car insurance will rise to $192 per vehicle on July 1 – a 13-percent increase underscoring everything that’s wrong with Michigan’s out-of-whack system.Michigan is the only state in the nation mandating that motorists buy unlimited health care coverage through their car insurance. It’s the primary reason our average car insurance premium – nearly $2,400 per year – is highest in the nation, more than $1,000 above the national average and twice as high as in some neighboring states.Nothing stops medical providers from charging three or four times more for an MRI if the patient happens to be an auto accident victim. Trial lawyers also love our current system because they can clog our courtrooms with injury cases and line their pockets with hefty percentages of settlement payments.Special interests cash in on a system rigged against Michigan drivers.Enough is enough. Changing this system is a top priority of mine as your representative in the Michigan House. Offering choice in medical coverage options is a starting point for any legitimate reform plan.As we have seen, the special interests profiting from the ridiculously high premiums you are forced to pay don’t want change. But I am committed to fighting them and bringing some sanity to car insurance rates in Michigan.(Rep. Jeff Noble represents the 20th District in the Michigan House, which includes the cities and townships of Northville and Plymouth, and a portion of Canton.)