Friday, 21 December 2012

Grow Movement TED talk

Chris Coghlan, Grow Movement's founder, TED talk at TEDx London Business School in April 2012

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Grow Movement advises Ugandan Stroke Rehabilitation Centre

Uganda's average life expectancy is just 53 years, 18 years below the global average, and considerably less than that of the African continent (58 years)*. The number of doctors in proportion to the population is astoundingly low, with only one doctor for every 10,000 people. 

Strokes are one of the top 5 causes of death in Uganda, largely due to the prevalence of risk factors. Approximately 7.3% of the population are affected by HIV and 25% by sickle cell anaemia. This, in addition to insufficient quantities of fruit and vegetables in typical diets and the abuse of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, means that the Ugandan population are particularly vulnerable to strokes.

When local resident Ibrahim Bukenya graduated from the Mulago School of physiotherapy, he realized that he wanted to help stroke survivors. After attending a Grow Movement empowerment programme, he was assigned a consultant, Mr. Nichola Bianchi. Mr. Bianchi used his experience in finance to advise Ibrahim by email or telephone on a weekly basis, working with him from Italy to formulate business plans and learn about how to manage the financial side of a business by monitoring cash flow and creating a balance sheet. With this advice, in 2010 Ibrahim established the Stroke Rehabilitation Centre in Wampewo

Ibrahim Bukenya helps a patient get back on his feet 
Ibrahim said of the process of launching the centre: 'The best moment was when I was introduced to Nichola, he really helped me to organise my business and understand the financial terms.' 

From singlehandedly running a home physiotherapy service from a rented room in Kampala, Ibrahim is now the founder and principal physiotherapist of The Stroke Rehabilitation Centre, a non-governmental organisation which treats about 15 patients, recovering from strokes or spinal problems, each month, as well as offering employment to local people.

His work is crucial in treating the severe psychological and physical conditions found in people after a stroke. Stroke survivors commonly experience depression, anxiety, loss of mobility and impaired speech. If left untreated, these conditions may last a lifetime. Before they can resume their daily lives, a long period of rehabilitation is often required. At the Stroke Rehabilitation Centre, to aid patients in their recovery process, each is individually assessed to ensure that they recieve the ideal treatment for their specific situation. The centre also offers support and advice to the family and friends of patients. 

After suffering from a stroke, Moses Opolot could not stand, sit or talk. When he was introduced to the Stroke Rehabilitation Centre,  'I started attending therapy and after a few weeks, I started experiencing great improvement. I learnt to walk with a stick, and later was able to walk by myself.' Staff at the centre worked closely with his family, teaching them to the best way to help him recover. Moses is now able to drive again and hopes to resume the life he had before his stroke soon.

2012 World Stroke Day Walk
In addition to being responsible for the progress of its patients, the Stroke Rehabilitation Centre is instrumental in raising stroke awareness in Uganda. In Uganda, many people believe that after having a stroke, a person is unable to resume their life and must remain indoors until their death. The efforts of the SRC to dispel this harmful misconception include organising an annual walk for World Stroke Day which was the first acknowledgement of the day in Uganda.

Ibrahim hopes that in the future, the centre will grow so that it is able to offer accommodation to over 50 patients. With the support of his second Grow Movement consultant, Nishi Agrawal from India, he is currently working to raise 100 million Ugandan shillings (about $37,000 or £23,000) over the next four years in order to purchase land to see his vision fulfilled, spreading his care network to the rest of Uganda. 

The actions of the Stroke Rehabilitation Centre demonstrate the ability and potential of a few individuals to make a significant difference to their community.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Violet Busingye's experience at Global Entrepreneurship Week Rwanda with Educat

The Real Business Accelerator (RBA) in Rwanda was an intense week long opportunity for 10 high potential Rwandan entrepreneurs to convert a brilliant idea into action and kick-start their business. Hosted by Educat  with a help of their partners to facilitate a professional framework throughout the week, offering various training sessions, coaching, legal advice and budget support, ICT support etc

Our main role as a partner was to place 10 Grow Movement remote volunteers with individual entrepreneurs and supporting them throughout the week. It was an amazing opportunity and a mutual benefit for everybody who participated!

Teta pitching her business, Inzuki Designs
I didn’t have plan B, this is what I have to do for a living!Says Teta

In Africa, for every one single job in the formal sector, there are over 50 people struggling for it.  In each country in Africa for example Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi thousands of new graduates compete with peers who completed earlier for few jobs available each year not mentioning the old age bracket group people in these countries who never want to retire from their formal jobs due to a lot of insecurities in their lives.   

A young lady Teta Isibo, the founder of Inzuki Designs, a local Rwandan company specialising in African jewellery, accessories and interior d├ęcor, is an indomitable woman that inspired the jury during the Real Business Accelerator last month. She was Born in Nairobi but raised up in Uganda, the third born in a family of six returned with her family to Rwanda in 1996 after the genocide where she studied and managed to complete her Bachelors of Science degree.
While talking to her I learnt she is passionate about designing “I am doing something that I chose to do, something I am passionate about and naturally good at. Although the decision to open my own store was radical, I have not regretted it even a single day. I have a clear vision of what I want to accomplish especially supporting talented rural women and this is what drives me every single day and I have found hope”, she says. 

Like many of us,  she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do as a child but she was always interested in anything creative and always had an eye for design and always waited for opportunities to enhance her dream.  Like any other youth in Rwanda, Teta was looking for answers relating to survival after school. However, she has found hope in her business and she has been able to create employment to fellow young women as young as she is. She hopes to be supporting over 90 women in the next one year. 

Grow Movement is committed to supporting the Rwandan entrepreneurs like the 10 real business accelerator to realize their dreams and help create a great social impact in Rwanda a help form our partners like Educat.  Among others, Teta is working with Mimi Ng her Grow consultant based in Canada focused on supporting her develop Logistics of selling internationally, Marketing, branding the business to stand out from its competitors and strategically planning for her business…

The 10 RBA candidates supported by Grow Movement

It was amazing to have 10 Grow Movement international volunteer consultants willing to work remotely supporting 10 candidates on Global Entrepreneurship week (4 based in UK and 5 from Kenyan, Tanzania, Afghanistan,  
 Canada and India.) They held a few sessions during the week to support the candidates throughout their endeavors.  They have continued working with their clients for about 3-5 months to help contribute to and promote entrepreneurship development in Rwanda by supporting Rwandan committed entrepreneurs in equipping them with proper business practises and accelerating their businesses.

A lot of talented young people are willing and have the capacity to make a change in their lives and to support their communities if given a chance. The 10 candidates I worked with during the GEW week are very ambitious, motivated and willing to venture into private enterprise and walk the road of successful people.  Grow Movement together with its partners, volunteer business consultants and sponsors are committed to support the start-up and existing businesses to Grow with the ultimate aim of making more money, create more jobs and keep their businesses sustainable. It is a low cost, collaborative approach to development where both clients and consultants learn from one another.

Working out at a piggery and chicken farm

Entrepreneurs in Africa depend largely on household resources, individual ef­forts and grants from well-wishers to get started in business. However, despite achievements, the challenges faced by the entrepreneurs range from mindsets to enterprise to lack of business skills to efficiently run successful businesses. 

Traditional script has always been that to succeed in business, you must get a lot of capital and it has to come from outside. All the greatest business stories have always started with what one had with hum­ble beginnings for example of a chicken project, piggery, a garage as a factory or a road kiosk as a shop location.  

Grow Movement teams both locally in our countries of operation, volunteers and its directors combine efforts meant to cause promi­nence and visibility of entrepreneurship as a MOVEMENT in addressing today’s chal­lenges poverty, unemployment and sustainable development.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Catharsis in Sierra Leone

“We pray for peaceful elections because we have seen it all,” the tribal chief said on my first day in the field as a European Union election observer monitoring Sierra Leone's 2012 Presidential elections.  They did see it all; 11 years of war, 50,000 dead, amputations, rape, forced cannibalism. Waged by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) until 2001 on the people of Sierra Leone using child soldiers and conflict diamonds. 

North Bombali district EU election observer team: Chris, Abdoulaye, Barbara, Issac

As the third elections since the end of the war, many commentators considered peaceful elections would mark Sierra Leone’s transition from a post conflict to more normal developing country, albeit the eighth poorest in the world. 

Elections have a raw emotional significance for Sierra Leonians: the RUF cut off people’s arms as punishment for voting. We met some of these amputees while investigating electoral access for vulnerable groups. There was something unbelievably shocking about it: That these people were missing arms not from injuries sustained in battle, but a deliberate act of torture from one human being to another. It is almost impossible to imagine the horror they went through, but I believe one should make the attempt so as to understand that people face this injustice and it must be stopped.

Conflict occurs so often in least developed countries because it is both one cause and a symptom of extreme poverty: 73% of least developed countries have recently experienced civil war or are currently in one.1 International law recognises our collective responsibility to intervene where a state is unable to protect its people from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in the Responsibility to Protect, with military force as a last resort. While too often the international community has ignored this responsibility, in Sierra Leone UN peacekeepers, backed by the British Army, did intervene and stop the war.

Barbara and Issac interviewing a voter
Few people bought up the subject of the war but our assistant Issac did. He told us about running through a field with his father aged twelve. RUF bullets were thumping the soil around them. He shouted at his father to get down but Issac was injured, breaking his hip. Eventually they escaped into hiding but were unable to find enough food and his father died.

Issac’s hip never healed correctly and he is unlikely to ever be able to afford the surgery to reset it. His mother died when he was much younger and as an only child it is easy to imagine him succumbing or becoming one more brutalised child soldier.

Instead, his father’s best friend took care of him and he went to secondary school. Issac’s father was a subsistence farmer and the family had no history of education but somehow Issac dreamt of becoming a human rights lawyer.  He passed the exam to get into university and started cold calling senior members of his community, telling them his story, his dream and asking for donations for his fees. A year later he had enough money for his first year.

Today Issac is a 24 year old top student with a linguistics degree and is half way through law school. He still depends on his community for support and is currently fundraising the $4,000 he needs for the final two years. He told me he wants to be a human rights lawyer to ensure no one suffers as he did and stand up against injustice in Sierra Leone. Perhaps he seeks release from his own anger in healing the hurt of others.
The count
 As noted in the EU's preliminary statement, thankfully the elections did pass peacefully and as international monitors our team was proud to play a role in enhancing Sierra Leonian’s confidence in the election process. 

But if there is one reason why I’m optimistic about least developed countries escaping poverty it’s because their communities have extraordinary people like Issac who do not accept their situation, expand their sense of the possible, and lead.

1: Paul Collier "The Bottom Billion",Oxford University Press 2008, p17

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Grow Movement partner for Global Entrepreneurship Week Rwanda

Grow Movement is proud to be a partner of Global Entrepreneurship week Rwanda 2012. Our team, led by Violet Busingye, will be in Rwanda for the next week working with our Rwandan partner Educat with the Real Business Accelerator (RBA).

Grow Movement Manager, Violet Busingye
 The Real Business Accelerator is an intense week long opportunity for 10 high potential Rwandan entrepreneurs to convert a brilliant idea into action and kick-start their business. Educat and partners will facilitate a professional framework throughout the week, offering various training sessions, coaching, legal advice and budget support, ICT support etc.

It will take place during the Global Entrepreneurship Week 12-18 November and culminate at the official GEW closing ceremony where the “Accelerators” will pitch the businesses to a jury and the winner will receive a cash price and office space at the REAL Centre-incubator. 

Grow Movement will be providing 3-5 months of remote volunteer consulting to the 10 entrepreneurs. 

Watch the video below to learn more about Global Entrepreneurship week:

Click here to follow Grow Movement's updates on our facebook page.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Cambodia: Overcoming poverty through social business

How do you overcome poverty amongst the billion poorest people on earth, countries with often apocalyptic recent events or at risk of facing them now? Where the injustice of extreme poverty demands external intervention yet so little evidence of its success exists that some people question whether international aid is not just ineffective, but contributes to poverty.

At Grow Movement we enhance the capacity of local entrepreneurs to lead their countries out of poverty and enable people everywhere to act through remote volunteering: Modern communications enable a skilled person anywhere to volunteer their time to overcome poverty and see the results for themselves. 

One of those volunteers is Philippe Pauly, a former fund manager in Paris, who volunteered remotely with Allen Alebako, one of our women entrepreneurs in Uganda. Philippe dedicates his life to overcoming poverty amongst the rural poor in Cambodia and followed his passionate belief in the effectiveness of social enterprise by founding Cambolac. I am lucky enough to serve on Cambolac's social board and visited Cambodia to learn about their work.

Cambodia knows apocalypse: up to 2.2 million people of a population of 8 million died in the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1978. The Khmer Rouge killed anyone with an education, speaking a foreign language or even former urban dwellers judged incapable of agricultural work. While this happened before the vast majority of Cambodians today where born, its legacy lingers in a very basic level of education and a virtual absence of professionals.

Cambolac works in Siem Reap where over 50% of families live on less than a dollar a day, 53% of children are malnourished and just 10% of them finish high school. Yet two million tourists visit this area annually to see the stunning Angkor Wat temples. Very little of the tourist revenues reach the local community.

A Cambolac black lacquer box
Making Cambolac boxes with a water rubbing pond
Philippe is trying to address this paradox by recreating a local handicraft industry to enable the rural poor to sell handicrafts to tourists. The beauty of Philippe's business model is it is low skilled and labour intensive: Each Cambolac black lacquer box requires up to twenty days of rubbing with wet sand paper, meaning large numbers of unskilled rural poor can be employed. Since launching in March Philippe has already employed nine people from the local community including three with disabilities. He hopes to employ many more as sales increase and you can follow their progress on facebook here. As a  business, Cambolac is not reliant on aid funding so is able to offer long term sustainable employment opportunities.

Cambolac founder Philippe Pauly (centre) with Cambodian family and a Cambolac rubbing pond
Philippe is investigating enhancing the social impact further by outsourcing part of the production process to the local villages. This would enable people who cannot travel to the workshop to have work (either by virtue of the cost or women for example who cannot leave their children to go to work). Cambolac would supply boxes to the villages for the people to sandpaper and pay a fee for each box so that people can work at their own pace and around their other commitments. Cambolac has constructed one rubbing pond in a local village to pilot this concept and so far appears very promising at enabling more people to access work.

I don't know the answer to the international aid dilemma. But I do know from working with Cambolac and Grow Movement that active, positive and effective steps exist to serve the people in these communities.

Cambolac social board member and Grow Movement founder Chris Coghlan at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Thursday, 11 October 2012

BBC news on Grow Movement entrepreneur Thomas Ssemakula

At Grow Movement we believe enhancing the skills of local entrepreneurs to lead their countries out of poverty is the best way to economically empower the people in the poorest countries on earth.  We use remote volunteer consultants in over fifty countries to deliver business advice on an ultra low cost base to entrepreneurs in Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda over mobile phone.

We're thrilled that Grow Movement Ugandan entrepreneur Thomas Ssemakula has told the story of his business Brave East Africa to BBC news:   
Grow Movement's Thomas Ssemakula
Just over two years ago Thomas qualified as a vet and launched his Brave East Africa consultancy business with no money to his name. In this video he tells how Grow Movement consultant Molly Fulton in Las Vegas gave him the human resource and financial advice he needed scale up to seven employees. Then in a second project, a Grow Movement team of MBA students from London Business School's Impact Consulting club helped Thomas write the business plan to successfully secure the investor mentioned by the BBC.

Its not just Thomas's employees and their families who benefit from his outstanding dynamism: Thomas's business equips Ugandan subsistence farmers with the skills they need to commercialize their produce, creating a ripple effect throughout the local community.

As all of Grow Movement's advice is delivered remotely and our operations are managed by local people, the total cost of Thomas's projects to Grow Movement was $200. We've managed to work with over 200 entrepreneurs like Thomas in the last three years on a cost base of less than $400 a week. 

Right now we're scaling up to advise 1,200 Malawian, Ugandan and Rwandan entrepreneurs over the next three years to lead their communities out of poverty and show the effectiveness of  talented local entrepreneurs teamed with remote volunteer consultants  to end poverty at  low cost and scale.