Thursday, 27 March 2014

Meet Orator, a Ugandan entrepreneur in the honey business Below is a thank you note to her volunteer consultant and the Uganda Grow team. I am particularly proud to see the role that my team have played in starting this particular mentor and client relationship. Having a business consultant from overseas is often a leap of faith for many of our clients. The Grow team pay a pivotal role in explaining the program and their business potential to our future clients. I am lucky to have such a committed team that take the future of their fellow country folk very seriously. Thank you and well done Joshua Mwesige the Grow Uganda manager and Karin Stumpf. Claire Jenkins

This is to extend my appreciation to your efforts Dr Karin. Apart from  professional services given to me and my business, you have gone a step further to be personally involved, I don't take this lightly/ for granted. Your total in put has given me a more focused vision to this business , meaning to focusing in business, the things I have learnt through this experience ,the gentle exposure to the international market. Thank you so much. As you said I can only pay back by succeeding and to me you are already written in my success story. Also In the success story of over 170 farmers looking forward to the break through of this export business.
To grow movement thank you so much this initiative touches so many lives,it has a powerful multiplier effect. Special thanks go to Especially  Joshua M. who practically  had convince me to enroll for this program. May God bless you and the grow movt team. In my business I take into consideration three important aspects, that is is people,planet and profit. So supporting  me to grow my business is supporting a noble cause.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

#Impact 5 new jobs created in #Malawi by sharing business skills by phone #entrepreneur #mentor #volunteer

We love celebrating success at Grow Movement. At the end of each month the team carry out impact assessments on projects completed 6 months before. Imagine our joy when we discovered the work that Mona Smith, a HR consultant from the UK had helped to create 5 new jobs in Malawi with her client, Mary Gama. Here Mona shares her second Grow Movement Volunteering Experience. Thank you for taking the time to invest in others Mona! Claire Jenkins CEO

Mona Smith   

Age: 45
Job title: HR Consultant Location:  Buckinghamshire, UK Nationality: Norwegian
Professional qualification: MSc
Brief career history:
20+ years in industry working in a number of large multination organisations in a variety of industries from automotive, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and high tech.  Now working as a HR consultant providing consultancy services to SMEs, start ups as well as larger organisations.
Key areas of expertise
Human Resources, business transformation, and business growth.

Where/ how did you come across Grow Movement?
Through a friend.

Why did you decide to join Grow Movement?
I had time available to support the aims of Grow Movement and wanted to support small business growth in Africa.

About your entrepreneur
Name: Mary Gama
Business name: Middle Trading
Age: 56
Gender: Female
Location: Lilongwe and Blantyre, Malawi

What does the business do?
Piggery and produce.  Animal feed manufacture.
How many employees: 20 (at the start of the program, 25 at the end)
Key customers: Local companies, local farmers, NGOs

What was your first phone call like?
Our first call was a bit difficult to get off the ground with the local mobile network causing issues.  However, once we got over that we had a good conversation learning about each other, our families as well as Mary’s business, what she was hoping to do and what her main challenges were.

What approach did you to take to identify the problems facing the business?
We started with an analysis of the business and talked about where she wanted to take it in the short to medium term an identifying what the obstacles were to achieve those goals.

What business tools did you use?
Building a business plan.
We used SWOT analysis as well as Porters Matrix.   We also used the 4Ps of marketing to ascertain who the customer base etc would be for the new animal feed products.  As these are small businesses you may sometimes have to be a bit creative in how you use these types of business tools.

How many sessions did you have? 

How long were the sessions?
20-30 minutes

What preparation did you do?
Very little preparation required on my part, with the exception of familiarising myself if Mary’s feedback on the tools we were using in order to have a quality phone call.

How much email interaction did you have?
Some.  I did send her some information via email in preparation for our call and also afterwards to summarise and provide further information on areas of discussion.

What objectives did you work on? 
Understanding finance and marketing basics as well as building a business plan in order to get funding from the bank.

How did you manage being able to consult when you didn’t know the industry or the country?
I have travelled a lot in Africa and also have a base in Botswana where I spend as much time as possible, so know a bit about the cultures and way of life in Africa and didn’t see that as an issue.  With regards to industry, this is a bit more difficult, however I am working with a wide variety of business and industries here in the UK and find that the types of industry does not matter so much.  General business skills are largely transferable.

What cultural challenges did you face?
Probably the urgency.  We tend to do things a lot quicker here in the UK, but having spent time in Africa it wasn’t really an issue as it was expected.

What was the hardest thing about the project? 
Balancing the time availability and also some of the time was waiting for the client to gain the funding she required to get the project off the ground, so there was some lag in the sessions.

What professional benefits did you get out of the project?
Cross cultural communication, adapting style, influencing,  effective communication  and learning about emerging markets.

What personal benefits did you get out of the project?
This was my second Grow project and I get a lot of satisfaction from providing help and support to others.  It’s wonderful to see how their businesses has developed and grown.

What impact did you have?
5 new employees including a tailor and a sales people
Increase in business planning, customer care, marketing and finance business skills

What would you say to another person who was thinking about becoming a consultant for Grow Movement?
Most of the companies are very small businesses and start ups with limited commercial and business knowledge or ability to put together even the most basic financial records.  You will need to ensure that you understand the level they are operating at and ensure that your advice and support meets with their level of understanding.  Assume nothing, explain everything.

How would you describe your experience at Grow Movement in 5 words?

Rewarding, fascinating, interesting, proud, unique.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Can Business School #MBA students impact poverty in #Malawi @imperialbiz

I am often asked if MBA students who have never been to Africa can use their skills to improve small businesses over seas. The simple answer is yes! Meet Adrian Walker, an MBA candidate at Imperial Business School in London, originally from Switzerland with a Finance back ground at PWC. He is volunteering by Skpye and mobile with a client in Malawi, and is now onto his second project. Here Adrian talks about his experience. thank you for taking the time to invest in others!

The consulting work for GROW movement was a truly invaluable experience. It allowed me to better understand the challenges a business faces in Africa taking into account the prevailing political and the economic situation. Things we take for granted in Europe are hardly available there, such as adequate insurance, lap tops or internet coverage. These circumstances forced me to adapt my coaching style as the first question I had to ask myself was: What are the resources we can work with?  The key take away for me was to make sure that I kept an open mind at all times in order to overcome any obstacles in the consulting process by actively listening to my client and by understand their personal situation and their resources as thoroughly as possible. 

In the end I was immensely happy and satisfied having been able to contribute to the success of an African entrepreneur by passing on my business skills and by sharing my professional experience.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

 Volunteering and having an impact is a powerful experience. It always makes us very happy at Grow when we have a volunteer who enjoys the experience so much that they take 2 projects at once, complete them and then start another. Please meet David Krynauw living in Sydney Australia, volunteering with Grow Movement in Rwanda on 2 projects. A great honest account of working with us, the challenges and some ideas to live out our value of 'continuous improvement'! Thank you for volunteering with us David, together we create change, just one Skype call at a time.

David Krynauw  has worked as a Group Account Director with leading multinational advertising agencies; Marketing Director of a cinema exhibitor and movie distributor which represented studios including Buena Vista International, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox; and Commercial and Managing Director in the cinema advertising industry. David’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to start his own businesses from scratch where he personally experienced all aspects of owning and managing a business in Australia’s highly competitive marketplace, and all the risks and rewards associated with that. (

When I came across Grow Movement on LinkedIn, I was quite excited about the opportunity to become a remote business mentor to entrepreneurs in less developed African countries. The experience has been rewarding and challenging at the same time. The assistance I receive from the staff at Grow Movement is fantastic. They are enthusiastic, communicate really well and I always feel like I have their support. The briefs are well laid out and contain a lot of detail about the challenges that my mentees are facing, as well as general background information about Rwanda and its economy.

My first projects were with two business owners in Kigali. Both were very impressive and talented people. They were well connected to influential people and organisations in Rwanda, and have ambitious plans for their respective businesses. The challenges they faced were varied and involved issues such as project management, business plan development, evaluation of new business opportunities, raising capital, marketing, and many more.
We quickly established a great relationship and it was clear that we all enjoyed each other’s company. Language and communication was an issue but I expected that before we started. English was not their first language and I could not speak French. We communicated via Skype and found that, whenever any one of us struggled to understand the other, we could use Skype Chat, as it is sometimes easier to follow a discussion when it is written rather than spoken. Skype Chat also provided a good record of our conversations with action plans for the next session. So that worked really well.

Timing was a challenge for me. I live in Australia and there is a 9-hour time difference between Sydney and Kigali. They were normally only available on weekends and early mornings their time, which is around 6-8pm my time. And on weekends that's normally the time that I am about to either go out for dinner or have people around for dinner. After a while we suggested email conversations as then we could work in our own time, but the emails I received were few and far between.

When I think back of the experience now we should have spent more time initially defining exactly what they want to get out of this relationship. They were clear about their projects, and I assumed that my role was to review their progress and give my input and advice while we went along this road. As we progressed I felt more and more that I was required to provide detailed input into their plans and systems while I was not qualified to do so based on my limited knowledge of the local market and trading conditions. In fact, it took quite a number of sessions for me to fully understand what they were doing, what they wanted from me, and what the local market conditions were like. Hopefully that will improve as I gain experience about commercial life in Rwanda.

It has been a great experience and I will happily continue working Grow Movement. The people I have met through this work have all been talented and enthusiastic, and I know that the work that Grow Movement are doing in the Africa is necessary and valuable. The challenge is more for people like me to understand what's going on at a local level and to be able to give good advice to the talented entrepreneurs in Rwanda.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Does #Volunteering have an #impact on #leadership #skills? Ashridge Business School Asks Grow Movement

At Grow Movement we are very proud of what we achieve in our operational countries. Having worked with over 200 hundred entrepreneurs and created almost 500 jobs we want to shout more about what we do. However in recent posts I have discussed how we often miss the impact that sharing business skills has on our volunteers. Niraj Saraf volunteered with Grow Movement as a VC for Uganda. He is now a consultant at Ashridge Business School here in the UK. He recently contacted me to see if he could work with some of our VCs to map the impact of volunteering over Skype on leadership skills. 

"Volunteering as a concept has existed for centuries, emerging in the contexts of military service and of community support. Skills-based volunteering is more recent, and doing it virtually more recent still, which means that as Grow Movement volunteers, you're at the cutting edge. The Ashridge Centre for Business and Sustainability is carrying out some research into the value that volunteering experiences to add to a person's leadership abilities and is particularly interested to explore whether that value can be gained as much through a virtual experience as through a real one."

The survey takes approx 10 minutes to fill out. Click below!