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.

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