Thursday, 12 December 2013

#Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world #Nelson Mandela

'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'  is a favourite quote of mine and is a real personal belief. With the passing of Nelson Mandela, and spending time with our school entrepreneurs in Malawi this quote has become even more poignant. It makes me very proud to run an organisation that has this ethos at the heart of what it does, just one phone call at a time.

Primary school education became free in 1994  in Malawi, so prior to my visit I was not clear on the market opportunity in private schools. Talking with our school entrepreneurs, I became aware that the issue was around quality of education and future employment opportunities.  A shortage of qualified teachers, class sizes which in certain areas can be over 100 and limited geographical reach has created a market for private schools here. Local primary education is completed in the local Malawian language of Chewa, with English being taught as a secondary language. Parents seeking better employment prospects for their children prefer subjects to be taught in English. another reason driving the private school market.
Payla, Sophie Kumwanje, Claire Jenkins

Payla is a Grow Movement client, who had a British consultant called Ben. Together they worked on advertising Palma springs Private School school after it moved to a new rural area far from a local road. Payla was encouraged to go on TV, put posters around the local area, offer free classes to local students and send children home with information on the school to share with friends. Transport was the next issue. With no funding for a bus to pick the children up, and a 30 minute walk from the local road, Ben suggested talking to local bus companies to offer the service at a reduced price. Being situated near 2 rivers was a problem for local parents, so 2 play ground supervisors were employed. Local micro businesses have also sprung up in the area including doughnut and Samoa sellers to the children at lunch time In total, 9 new jobs were created from the consultancy work carried out by Grow Movement.

World change starts with educated children, it also starts with empowered entrepreneurs with the right tool kit to run their  businesses.  Grow Movement helps to do phone call at a time.

Claire Jenkins CEO Grow Movement 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Can an #American help an #African #entrepreneur? #dogood #giveback #philanthropy #cause #volunteer

Skype usage in Malawi is more limited that our other countries. It is more rare for our entrepreneurs here to have ever seen their consultants using technology as compared to Rwanda and Uganda. On my recent trip to Malawi, Naomi used Skype on my iphone to meet Allison for the first time after having worked together for 6 months.  It was great to see the reaction and excitement on both sides. Here Allison talks about her experience as a Grow consultant. Claire Jenkins CEO

Allison Morton Grow Consultant
Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting my client, Naomi Kuluwani, “face-to-face” on Skype. After working together extensively on her retail business this year, it was a great pleasure to finally see each other and an equally great experience to get a small tour of her shop.

Naomi, retail entrepreneur
Naomi is a very inspiring entrepreneur. She owns several businesses, but she and I worked together to turn around her retail company, where she sells food and non-food essentials to locals in the city of Blantyre, Malawi.  When we started, there were many topics on the table – some normal in retail businesses (competition, pricing, and cash management) and some specific to her environment (currency volatility). With my experience in consumer goods and finance, I was able to consult her on some key topics – such as building financial statements, writing a business plan, managing inventory, and even developing marketing and promotion strategy.

Naomi and her best clients
It was apparent that Naomi’s shop had great potential as a residential hub for buying food products. One of our first assessments was to look at her inventory and analyze the profitability of each product. From there, we made a plan to promote, keep, or let go of certain products in her inventory. We also determined, through talking to customers, what products were in demand but not yet available at her shop. Through this, Naomi learned that her customers were, indeed, interested in more fresh food and meat products, which made sense to pickup near their homes and on their path to and from work. With this information, Naomi could make the decision to invest in equipment to stock and keep meat and chicken. Since then, her profits have increased by 30% and she’s hired one additional person!

Girl power in Malawi
I felt deeply honoured to work with Naomi. It takes great courage for anyone to start a business in a challenging economic environment, and I am inspired by Naomi’s passion, friendliness, and open-mindedness. As a consultant, my goal was to understand the details of her business and also get to know the person behind the business. Only with the knowledge of both could I provide a quality level of service at such a distance. (I am an American living in Germany.)
I couldn’t be happier to finally meet “face to face” and to see that all the hard work is paying off for Naomi!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Rare sighting! Down under #skype #consultant goes over to #Uganda

Rare sighting a VC and entrepreneur together
Many of our clients and entrepreneurs build up great relationships over Skype but very few rarely have the chance to meet face to face. Sam Durland from Australia managed to meet Kalissa his client in Uganda. Big thank you to Sam for showing such commitment to the vision of Grow Movement. With your time, skills and passion we help create change, one phone call at a time! Claire Jenkins

Mr Kalissa
Recently, while in Africa on other business, I took the opportunity to visit my Grow client in Uganda, Mr Kaliisa Stephen. His company, Semuliki Traders Company (SETRACO) Ltd, is based in the Bundibugyo District in the west of the country near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The company is a start-up agribusiness with interests in maize, coffee, cassava, and chickens, and marketing of local produce. Starting in 2007, Kaliisa began purchasing land in the rich Rift Valley and establishing the various crops using local resources and labour. In 2012, the company obtained a long-term lease over a local market from the District Council. He is currently in discussion with the Council about resurrecting an abandoned fish farming operation that is based on Council land.
Sam Durland

I spent five days with Kaliisa touring his various projects, and meeting local officials, extension workers and business people, and discussing the best way forward for his business. Kaliisa is a most impressive young man. From a very modest village background, he completed an IT Diploma, and for several years conducted a successful small business in this sector. However, it became obvious to him that there was enormous potential in primary production, especially if he could mobilise local people to utilise the ideal growing conditions that prevail in the area to grow food crops to satisfy local demand, while also providing a local market facility for these and other cash crops. In Kaliisa’s mind, as well as generating a return to its shareholders, his company should provide a demonstration effect, showing local people what can be achieved with local resources.
Mr Kalissa

My role as a Grow consultant was to help Kaliisa to develop detailed strategic and business plans. While that role has concluded, I continue to work with him to focus the business on those areas that will generate an early cash flow to underpin the further development of the enterprise. My concern has been that the business was diversifying too quickly, and that without sufficient focus (and finance), there was a risk that none of the company’s diverse projects would thrive. Better to concentrate initial efforts on chicken farming, where there is strong local demand for meat and eggs that is currently being satisfied by imports from outside the District, and where early returns can be achieved.

In summary, my visit to Uganda was personally and professionally most rewarding and I believe of significant value to the client. As a consultant, I have always felt that I had to get to know the client’s business intimately, in order to provide the maximum value in my professional services. What better way than to spend a week in his or her shoes living the business!

Sam Durland
Consulting Plus Pty Ltd
Wollongong, New South Wales


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

I hate working for a charity! Not another tree hugger!

'Not another bloody tree hugger, we've got enough of them, they do nothing but drive around in big cars and just upset the local economy', was the response from a fellow British citizen who I started chatting with whilst going through the painful process of checking in at Kigali airport in Rwanda.

Feeling rather smug as Grow Movement doesn't fall into the usual complaints that people have about charities, I listened and let him run out of steam mentally going through my to do list with the occasional polite understanding nod. I love when the time comes to say what we do and how we do it. Bam! We help create jobs, we do it in a low cost way...this is how many jobs we've created in 3 years!

I'm now at the stage where I prefer to say that I run an 'organisation' that delivers business skills in Africa rather than a 'charity'. Being in the charity sector seems to be something that people look down, that achieves nothing and has poor quality lazy people involved in it. A judgement is made on your organisation and you  before you have even spoken.

Wasting money, working without achieving anything, messing things up in Africa are all too common things that I hear about. We battle on a weekly basis with the dis-empowering product of poor but well intentioned development decisions. Many charities even today offer payments to  people to attend training courses giving an over inflated travel budget on top. Both my team and other entrepreneurship organisations are often asked by their students when will they get their 'sit in fee'. I'm screaming but this is a free service that can change your life, you're getting thousands of pounds worth of top quality advice, and you're just seeing the few pounds that you may have received before. Do we then refuse to take these people? Or grit our teeth and take them on knowing that consultancy actually removes these blinkers?

Every charity it seems also thinks the way that I do, that these badges don't apply to their organisation, that they are better than the rest. I believe Grow Movement is better, we are results and low cost focused, we have a talented team but yet I am not naive enough to think that we are perfect, see my last post! Until we make a big mistake I run an organisation, when we do, I will then call myself a charity as it is accepted that we make mistakes.

Monday, 2 December 2013

CEO commits ignorant faux Pas! 'Don't tell me I'm #poor, let me decide what I am!

When in Rwanda I stayed with a videographer who worked as a freelancer doing projects for NGOs across Africa. She introduced me to the concept of dignity and ethics when taking photos and videos for Grow Movement. Considering myself to be well travelled I have always been careful to take photos with permission, or perhaps being more honest.. sneaking the odd shot that would look great on my facebook with out being noticed. I left for Uganda to see Joshua and Grace feeling pretty confident that with my experience of travel I was not in any danger of committing any ethical faux pas and falling into a pitfall of robbing local people of their dignity.

Sadly not the case. From my team I came to realise and ashamedly so, that I was sitting right at the bottom of an ethical  pitfall. Our website talks about the 'poorest communities', on our landing page and our charity presentation talks of poverty and social diseases from high unemployment. My team pointed out that this is actually quite offensive. 'Don't tell them they are poor, let them decide for themselves what they are, don't give them your label'. 

Having spent considerable time in developing countries as a fruit buyer for Tesco, regularly on sourcing trips to South Africa and Ethiopia, as a General Manager in India and as an eternal back packer, I should know better than this. How ignorant and arrogant to completely forget how our website might be perceived by the very folk we are wishing to help. In one sense I am giving them dignity by sharing skills and not money but then immediately taking it away by having a website that degrades them. How could I not even notice or consider this?! Over 50% of our clients use Skype so of course they access our website. Did I assume that they would be ok with being referenced to as from the poorest communities? Or in the pursuit of recruiting enough volunteers focused on the triggers that encourage them to work with us, or perhaps I have spent too much time in London and not on the ground. 

Furtherest from my mind  was belittling or degrading the very folk our entire team and volunteers work tirelessly to assist.(And it is tirelessly after some of the hotels I've stayed in this last month!). I'm the first person to be yelling at the TV when the Xmas adverts of poor children, starving with flies around their eyes start..and there I am doing exactly the same, just as guilty. Quite a tough lesson to take!

Nonetheless a key Grow Movement value is 'continuous improvement'. We're not afraid of feedback, actively seek it and work on it. Thank you to my new Uganda recruit Grace Akullo for challenging me on this point, well done! I'm changing the website as soon as I am the office here in Malawi tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

#Electricity outages impacting #Uganda's development

Reading feedback from our volunteer consultants and clients problems with power outrages meaning lap tops and mobile go dead during calls is a continual complaint and major frustration. I read it so often that I have almost become immune to it.

My first weekend in Uganda really made me conscious of how much electricity outages can impact businesses here. Friday morning I woke no no electricity in my bnb, meaning I had to go to a conference where I was presenting without blow drying or straightening my hair. A girl problem but I started to think about anyone running a hairdressing business would also have been affected.

Saturday evening I was having my nails done and the electricity went out. An hour long chore turned into 2 hours as the electronic filers were not working. In this case I started to think about productivity in Ugandan businesses, whilst having manual filing was option the production time was significantly increased yet for the same money.

Finally that evening I went back to watch the football with my 'Ugandan hosts who run a bar restaurant long with the bnb. The electricity went out and within ten minutes the bar had cleared. I started to think about the significant loss of profits that August would have experienced because of the electricity. I asked about generators and he said they were to expensive even taking into consideration his loses that evening.

With electricity supply being a rare problem for us back in the UK I was surprised at the acceptance local people had to this. I guess if it is a regular occurrence you become phased by this. I really hope that with Grow Movement addressing the business skills for Ugandans that the electricity issues will also be resolved.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Exhilarating and affordable ways to travel cheaply in #Uganda and #Rwanda

CEO Claire Jenkins on Moto
Rwanda and Uganda are two very different neighbouring countries. Rwanda is often described as 'Africa lite' or not the 'true Africa' by ex pats used to a lack of rules from working on this continent of 54 countries. When it comes to modes of transport this is certainly true.
Claire Jenkins and Grace Akullo on moto in Uganda
Being used to getting the tube to work in London travelling by motorbike everyday certainly wakes you up. The adrenaline pumps much more so than a 30 minute trip on the jubilee line reading  the 'Metro' newspaper and struggling to get out of the armpits of other passengers.  Travelling by local taxi driven motorbikes keeps our organisational costs down as well as supporting local businesses. Rides vary by distance and cost anything from 50p to £2 for rides of 20 mins.

Violet in Moto
In Rwanda these are known as motos and are regulated heavily by the government. Each driver must carry a spare helmet for their passenger, only one person can be carried at a time and ladies are not permitted to sit side saddle.
Violet negotiating prices
In Uganda all the rules are out of the window, no helmets for anyone and pack as many as possible on the back though to save dignity ladies are allowed to sit side saddle, whilst great when you are in a dress not so great when going around corners carrying a lap top bag unbalanced. 
Being a bit of adrenaline junkie cruising round without a helmet certainly has an exhilarating effect, though I do prefer the safer option of 'Africa lite'.

Just a simple example of how two country neighbours are very different. 

Violet and Eric in Rwanda 

Monday, 25 November 2013

#Airbnb making #charity travel more affordable

Being cost efficient is a key value that Grow Movement operates to. After flight costs our biggest expense is hotel bills, even staying in the most affordable accommodation from the Lonely Planet guide book, as well as often being dull and uninspiring for a stay beyond a night or two.

In Kigali, Rwanda there is a particular problem with affordable hotels and bnbs. Preparing for 5 weeks away I wanted another solution to bland hotel stays. Airbnb was my answer! I stayed with an American couple; one who worked all over Africa shooting videos for NGOs and the husband who worked as a consultant.

Having another perspective on a country from people who live there as  well as my team was fascinating. Being able to chat around the challenges, benefits and pitfalls of operating NGOs  in Africa, gaining their expertise and insight very much enhanced my experience of Rwanda and gave me real food for thought on how we should manage Grow Movement in the future.

In Kampala, Uganda, I moved to stay with a Ugandan couple and their daughter near to Kampala International University. Great place! It took me to a part of time I would not usually visit, putting me right in the middle of late night street food markets, DVD sellers and street side chicken bbqs. Chatting about Kampala, the electricity challenges, business limitations and school fees all helps with mu understanding of how Kampala works.

Airbnb helps provide alternative experiences to hotels, offers a lower tiered costing for more price sensitive travel and offers a greater and/ or different  insight into communities in which we work, really recommend it to other folk travelling overseas whether for business, charity work or holidays.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Party party! Celebrating #volunteer, #entrepreneurs and #Skype in #Rwanda!

Violet, Rwanda manager
Grow Movement certainly knows how to through a party! Last week I asked the Grow team how long we had been operating in Rwanda for?

'Almost a year! We started during Global Entrepreneurship Week in 2012'

Focusing hard on recruiting entrepreneurs and hitting our performance targets  we had forgotten to mark our achievements. Pausing the world,  celebrating, and  having the chance to say thank you to all of those who have made us a success is so important for our team motivation and what a great way to welcome our two new team members, Josiane and Eric.

Grow entrpreneurs
After 1 year of operation with just Violet working part time in Rwanda we have worked with 38 entrepreneurs, completed 13 impact assessments, and are working with a further 45 clients. From this we have created 64 jobs, improved the business skills of each person we have worked with and improved profits on average by 40%. All achievable by the power of not just the Grow team and our volunteers but also through the power of technology, Skype.

Andreas from Educat and Kelsey from SURF our local Partners
What a great reason for a party!  Between the Rwanda Grow team of Eric, Josiane and Violet, the local corner shop and bakery we pulled of an awesome party in just 3 days for 40 people.

Over 30 clients came, we had 2 local volunteer consultants and one from the UK who happened to be in town as well as 2 partners Educat and SURF. Hearing great reports from our clients on their Grow Movement consultant was immensely motivating and inspiring . Emmanuel who is setting up a secondary school in the Eastern province of Rwanda  spoke about his British consultant Graham who has been assisting him
with his business plans and helping him source additional funding after his existing loan fell through.
Herman a Rwandan volunteer and Mark a new British volunteer

Really looking forward to the next party in Rwanda during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014. You're all invited!

Friday, 22 November 2013

#War, #genocide and #poverty or the Switzerland of# Africa? Would the real #Rwanda please stand up

Google ‘Rwanda’ and you have a wealth of knowledge on genocide, HIV programmes and gender based violence so you could be excused for thinking I’m writing this from a bunker fearing for my life as a female eating ration packs. As I speed around the city of a thousand hills on the back of a ‘moto’ (taxi driven motorbikes) I think wow what a beautiful place, tarmacked roads, well maintained buildings and immaculate gardens, roundabouts and pavements but where is the google impression? It would be amazing if more folk had the chance to experience Rwanda as it is today, though it is such an amazing place I think I want to keep it a secret.
 Beyond the surface beauty there is a thriving entrepreneurship scene that is evidence of the resilience, drive and strength of this small nation. It has been Global Entrepreneurship Week where Kigali has been buzzing. The city has been full of events celebrating existing entrepreneurs, small businesses and providing opportunities for innovators, investors, NGOs, and business people to share and learn.

I had the opportunity to be a judge on our partner ‘Educats’ business plan competition. After 5 days intensive training 9 entrepreneurs competed for a £4K investment and a KLM plane ticket. Between 6 judges ranging from a mix of Mzungos, local entrepreneurs and bankers we had to choose 3 finalists. A serious challenge to select between a smoothie company, a bread manufacturers, a chicken farmer, a sausage maker and designers. Do you choose the best pitcher, the idea with most scalability or someone who could inspire a generation of Rwandans?

I am pleased to say that Herve, a Grow Movement entrepreneur won the competition. He is a sausage manufacturer and pig farmer selling to supermarkets, hotels and local people. His pitch did not have the greatest clarity but he really impressed us with his knowledge and passion for his business during the Q&A session. Herve is a true entrepreneur with drive and natural charisma. I am proud that Grow Movement and his volunteer consultant Rick in the USA played a part in his success.

The talent, energy and breadth of ideas coming from these young entrepreneurs I wish we could showcase and inspire other people with. I hope  that next year the work that Grow Movement does can help put entrepreneurship in Rwanda at the top of google listings and help to drive out these negative assoications, just one Skype consultancy call at a time. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Super star graduate and coffee #entrepreneur joins Grow Movement in #Rwanda

Eric Iyaremye was born and grew up in the Eastern part of Rwanda. In 2008, he won a scholarship from Generation Rwanda for talented young students to attend university in Kigali. He chose the national university of Rwanda as it was his childhood dream. He did a degree in Agriculture, majoring in Agricultural economic and agribusiness. Eric was the student representative and the National university of Rwanda Agribusiness association president. He graduated in this year with a 2:1 and was the second top performer in his graduating class. He was selected to give the university class graduation speech for his commitment and achievements.

Eric is passionate about community development and making a positive change in society. He likes to read motivational novels including SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE’’ by Stephen covey together with “TAKE THE RISK’’ by Dr Ben Carson. He is also a Manchester United fan and dedicated Christian. He has a natural entrepreneurial streak and is working with his business partners to fill a gap in the market for coffee shops for middle income earners in Rwanda.

Eric believes that “Grow’s work gives me a way forward towards fulfilment of my dreams. One entrepreneur mentored, is at least one less jobless person!

Welcome to the team Eric, we are so happy to have you join our team in Rwanda.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Making beds in Uganda

Meet Sarah a 27 year old entrepreneur living in Kampala, Uganda. She is working with a Canadian consultant to help improve her business. She buys material at the local market and takes it to a tailor to make bed sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers, and then completes the detailed sewing at home by hand. She is hoping to save enough money to be able to buy her own sewing machine so she can make them herself at home, react quickly to customer demands and improve her productivity. She faces numerous challenges in growing her business to be able to do this. Local supermarkets require a significant stocking fee and supply of consistent material design to match customer demands is also a problem. She is working with Ray to help her solve these problems, focusing on financial planning and marketing.

Good luck Sarah, we wish you well with your consultant.
Sarah with her duvet set

Sarah and Claire Jenkins

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Designing Cow Dung vases creates 2 new jobs for #Rwandan #entrepreneur #socialgood #volunteer #giveback #dogood

In June 2013 I had the chance to meet Teta; a talented Rwanda designer in her shop in Kigali, Rwanda. She works with local African cooperative groups to produce  fashionable clothes, shoes and jewellery that are suitable for the professional ladies of Kigali. Imagine my surprise when handling a beautiful vase that turned out to be made from cow dung!
Teta, her new sales assistant and Violet Grow Rwanda 
Spot the cow dung vases!
 She started working with Grow Movement and her USA consultant Mimi Ng in 2012 to work on her export business to the African diaspora in the USA. Together they worked on her export and distribution plan using Skype and email. To help her focus on expanding her business and completing her home work for Mimi she employed an additional sales person and accountant. Mimi and Teta have built such a strong relationship that stay in contact and still work together to help improve Teta's business.

Great work Mimi, thank you for supporting Grow Movement and helping to create jobs. Teta, we wish you every luck in your business.

Claire Jenkins and Teta in Kigali

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Bingo! 3 new jobs created by #Skype volunteering in #Uganda #socialgood #volunteer #giveback #dogood

David and Brian Kalule in their factory
On my recent visit to Uganda in June I had the opportunity to meet with David and Brian Kalule, both keen England football supporters as well as entrepreneurs being assisted by Grow Movement volunteer consultants. They manufacture liquid soap for industrial cleaning, based in a small workshop on the outskirts of Entebbe. With the support of their Indian consultant Joby Abraham they worked on finance and marketing issues facing their liquid soap manufacturing business. Over 6 months using Skype they worked together focusing on how to improve their manufacturing process and increase their customer base as well as recording their financial records.
Uganda Grow Manager Joshua Mwesige

And what an impact they had! When they started the business David was working full time at the airport and Brian was at university. They worked at the weekend and evenings and were not earning sufficient enough to be paid out of the business. 6 months after completing their project they have created 3 new jobs, including sales and packing assistants as well as both being paid. Their profits have gone up by 50%

Amazing what can be done with skills sharing over Skype, the willingness and time commitment of a volunteer and the drive and ambition of an entrepreneur. Thank you Joby, and well done David and Brian. I hope that your business expands and expands! Good Luck from all at Grow Movement!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Chinese #volunteer uses #Skype to help Ugandan #entrepreneur create 17 New Jobs with the Veg Man #socialgood #volunteer #dogood #giveback

Joe Male is an inspiration to us all. I had the honour of meeting him back in June in Kampala, Uganda.  He first started working with Grow Movement in 2012 with his Chinese consultant Julie Su. Since working with his Grow consultant over Skype from China to Uganda and focusing on finance and marketing he has created 17 new jobs. Joe grows veg including broccoli in his family's garden and is known locally as the 'Veg Man'. Combining the business skills of his volunteer consultants with his natural entrepreneurial spirit he has encouraged other young people in the area to grow veg for him. He now sells veg baskets to the big banks in Kampala, now employs 4 women to run road side produce stalls for him. Joe's entrepreneurial passion is not just limited to the vegetable world. His talent for spotting business opportunity and desire to help his community  has also enabled him to train women in low cost water tank building, and men in brick laying.  On top of this he has also become a first time Dad to baby Mia.

On working with Grow he says: 
"...Grow Consultancy; More impact,more possibilities! I am very proud of . Grow Movement; It gave me the grips to move great miles steadily which  I could not make on my own...Really, through your selfless service, > there are also more promising possibilities for entrepreneurs in the  developing countries like Uganda. May God bless your efforts

 "Know the candle Grow lit in me, is spreading the light to many endless lives unknowing..please, keep the spirit".

I am very proud that as Exec Director that Grow Movement unleashes this entrepreneurial talent in some of the poorest countries on earth by using it's global volunteer team of consultants. Well done Julie and Joe!
Joe Male far right with Joshua Mwesige Uganda Manager and Kenny the operations manager

Joe Male, Kenny and Claire Jenkins Executive Director for Grow Movement

Thursday, 22 August 2013

7 new Ugandan jobs created by Grow Movement with Isaac Mugabe and a Canadian volunteer consultant

Meet Isaac Mugabe who runs a screen-printing business working with schools and other business to put their logos on t-shirts, caps and umbrellas. When Isaac came to GROW Movement, his business was not going very well.  After working with Ray Belanager, a Canadian volunteer consultant, Isaac now  runs a profitable business. He employees an additional seven people as a result of the work that he completed with Ray, focusing on tracking the costs of his business and taking care of his customers. Isaac has  even set up a village savings scheme to help other local businesses solve cash flow issues. Great work Ray and Isaac. It is amazing the impact that knowledge sharing over Skype, phone and email can have on the performance of a businesses in the Developing World. On working with Grow Movement Isaac says, "I feel like both my company and I have been reborn". 

Isaac Mugabe in his design work shop

Isaac with his umbrella product

Isaac with his new operations manager

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Coventry to #Malawi by #Skype! Africans helping Africans!

Meet  Judith Patricia Alekadala, a 35 years old accountant from Mangochi district in Malawi, now living with her son in Coventry, West Midlands, UK. She arrived in 2002 to continue her ACCA training and plans to open her own accountancy firm. She is our first female Malawian Grow Consultant. Welcome Judith!
Her Malawian based entrepreneur, Catherine Njobvu, aged 28 is a cosmetics and beauty salon owner. Judith plans to assist her client with expanding into new premises in the main city centre of Blantyre. They plan to target new customers in this area including university students.

About volunteering with Grow Movement Judith says
"...I like the Grow Movement idea because it follows my favourite Chinese proverb which says; If you teach someone how to fish he will never beg again but if you keep on giving him fish, he shall keep on coming back whenever he feels hungry. Grow movement is teaching people how to produce themselves and become independent rather than relying on someone to help them all the time. I have learnt a lot on how people do business in the UK and I would like to transfer that knowledge to other people who may use it and benefit from it. Africans are hard workers and skilled people, they just need a little bit of re-engineering. I would like to help in consulting the businesses and see them grow.  I believe this will change the world and I want to be part of it. I know it will work because knowledge investment is more profitable..."
Judith Alekadala UK based Malawian Grow Consultant

Friday, 9 August 2013

London based Malawian accountant Skype consults with Malawian based entrepreneur

Meet Mathews Chanza, a 39 year old accountant from Zomba district in Malaw, now living in London working as a Finance Manager for Media diversity and People In Aid. He is Grow Meet Mathews Chanza, Grow Movement's first Malawian born volunteer consultant.
He first moved to London ten years ago to study his Bachelor of Accounting degree (BACC) and continued to complete his training as an Associate Chartered Management Accountant (ACMA).
He has been matched with Rhoda Banda a 35 year old female entrepreneur  who runs a small company with 10 employees in Malawi growing and selling peas, ground nuts and soya beans. Together using Skype, phone and email they will work for 3 months writing and presenting business proposals, cash flow management techniques and forward planning business strategies.
On volunteering for Grow Movement, Mathews says ' It will be gratifying for me to serve a cause in developing small scale business- which I believe are a hub in the development and empowering of individuals, Indeed it will be even more gratifying for me where my accounting and finance experience can be used to help solve and benefit small scale business in Africa, in particular Malawi, where I come from.'
Welcome Mathews, to our powerful global volunteer team, we are very proud that you are our first Malawian consultant.
Mathews Chanza getting ready to chat with his Malawian entrepreneur

Friday, 2 August 2013

Hydro electricity, bricks, pigs,pizza, mushrooms and a football academy! Rwandan entrepreneurs receiving business advice from Grow Movement

This week 30 male and 10 female Rwandan entrepreneurs are being assisted by Grow Movement volunteer consultants  managed by Grow Manager's Violet Busingye. We are working with Service, Manufacturing and Agricultural entrepreneurs. The Service sector entrepreneurs are the largest group with 29 web designs companies, Real Estate, a football academy, education, solar energy installation  and small shops selling decorations and clothing. Our agricultural clients are growing mushrooms, tomatoes, coffee and pigs and our manufacturers are making sausages, bricks, hydro energy and crisps!
Violet with Teta who runs a jewellery and vase design company in Kigali

Violet traveling by 'moto' to visit clients in Rwanda

Violet works hard to manage all of these clients with the time commitment of 40 volunteer consultants from over 18 countries. This is helping her to improve the livelihoods of over 700 people in the communities in which she operates. The UK, India and France are our biggest source of consultants for Rwanda. A big thank you from all at Grow Movement to the exceptional kindness and generosity of our international volunteer team. You are part of a team that will have worked with 1200 entrepreneurs by 2016.
If you would like to be part of our team and work with entrepreneurs in Uganda, Rwanda or Malawi then please get in touch with us and click on apply to us. .

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Grow Movement's first Pizza consultant! Pizza knowledge by #Skype from Canada to Kigali Rwanda

Meet Patrizia Pino , Grow Movement's first  “Pizza Consultant”, working with Elie and Fidele over Skype from Canada to Kigali, Rwanda. Patrizia's experience includes 25 years in the film industry running her own company as a Post Production Director, an Executive MBA from McGill University and 30 years of working in her family's restaurant, "Pizza Ninos" in Montreal, Canada.
 With such an eclectic mix of skills Patrizia found herself wanting to share her experience for the benefit of the community and came across Grow Movement. She was matched with a pizzeria called 'Live Hot Pizza', a company started in January 2013 by two young chaps called Elie  (22) and Fidele (25) by Grow's Rwanda Country Manager, Violet Busingye.

Elie and Fidele came to Grow Movement  for advise  on proper management, marketing, how to be unique and to create new business ideas.  Being a Grow Consultant Patrizia is tasked with improving their business, through assessing the shape of their business,  studying their strengths and weaknesses, giving them tasks to accomplish and evaluating the business as a whole in respect to what they are truly capable of.  This will all be done using Skype over the next 6 months. With experience in everything from waitressing, to cooking to running her own business they are in very experienced hands. Welcome and thank you to Patrizia and all our Grow Volunteer Consultants for their time commitment with your help we empower African entrepreneurs with knowledge and help take people out of poverty.
If you are interested in sharing your skills with an African entrepreneur then please see our website and click on apply to Grow!