At the end of January, I commenced an extra curricular program at UOW called iUnivative. The program involves being a part of a collaborative student consultancy team partnering with a local employer to help solve their business challenges.
There were eight inter-disciplinary student consultancy teams and four local businesses in the 2018 iUnivative program, which were Wollongong City Council, Roads and Maritime Services, Mercer Australia and Aussie Books for Zim. I was placed in team eight along with four other students. Due to our diverse backgrounds and skill sets, as well as our like mindedness towards generating fresh and innovative ideas during the program, we decide to name our team ‘Innov8’.
Original team logo
Our team, along with team seven were allocated to local charity Aussie Books for Zim. The charity seeks to promote education and improve literacy in the remote rural communities of Zimbabwe. This involves collecting new and gently used books, stationery and sports equipment to be shipped and divided among rural schools in Zimbabwe, as well as setting up libraries for pupils attending the schools.
Alfred Chidembo: CEO of Aussie Books for Zim
In order for Aussie Books for Zim to continue their efforts, a few of their business issues need to be addressed, the first being the lack of a sustainable fundraising model to ensure necessary funds, and the second being the inability to effectively implement a marketing strategy and a complimentary digital presence to support their fundraising initiatives. Ideas on how to tackle these problems were quick to generate during our consistent team meetings, and our first major obstacle was deciding on which ideas would lead to the best possible outcomes for Aussie Books for Zim, and then put our best foot forward on those specific ideas.
The team narrowed our ideas down and separated them into four main areas we wanted to cover, which were fundraising, marketing, volunteering and administration. Our aim was to have all four of these areas work in cohesion with each other to ensure Aussie Books for Zim could continue to operate smoothly. My specific contribution to the project was to formulate an effective marketing strategy for Aussie Books for Zim. This strategy was digital focused and begins with remodeling the charity website in order to generate further donations by improving transparency in the company and implementing SEO practices to improve the website rankings.
My digital marketing strategy for Aussie Books for Zim also involved planning the future content that will create the online presence. My plan involves creating both an Instagram and YouTube account for the charity, and to use the website as a hub for all content created and then disperse the content across all social media, allowing for as much audience traffic as possible and also further increasing website SEO due to backlinking. I also created an example of content the charity could create for their marketing efforts.
The final digital marketing strategy in my proposed plan for the charity was the implementation of an email marketing scheme using the Mailchimp system. The strategy involves creating an email list for subscribers and have automated emails sent out when new subscribers join the mailing list, and thank you emails when donations to the charity are made.
The next part of the iUnivative program was to compress our ideas into a business report, as well as visually and orally present our plan to Aussie Books for Zim in person. Not only did myself and my fellow teammates feel like we made a real difference for the charity going forward, we were able to impress enough to be named the winners out of team seven and eight.
On a final note I would like to say a few words of thanks, firstly to the University of Wollongong for hosting the iUnivative program, particularly Cara Dobinson, the program coordinator for all the hard work you did organizing this years iteration of iUnivative. Secondly, I would like to thank the entire Aussie Books for Zim organisation, Alfred, Precious and Rob were all amazing people to work with and the entirety of team Innov8 felt honored to be allocated to your charity for the duration of the program. Lastly, I would like to express my thanks to my wonderful teammates, Lisa, Deeksha, Julia and Alvee, as well as our fantastic team mentors Owen and Priyanka. You guys were the best team I have ever had the privilege of working with and not only did we make a difference to an amazing cause, we honed our professional skills and most importantly made some wonderful long lasting friendships.