Tuesday, 10 June 2014

'The Pork is bad!...They need a Grow Consultant'

'The pork is bad...they need a Grow Consultant!'    On Friday night I had the privilege of a 'Girl's Night' out with some of our female entrepreneurs in Kampala, Uganda. What a humbling and inspiring experience! Grace Akullo (Uganda Assistant Country Manager) and I had dinner with Freidah, Christine, Esther, Lydia, Harriet, Grace, Grace and Judith. Our clients covered everything from peanut butter making to construction and property rental.

Asides from enjoying an evening out with the girls, I wanted to understand more about the challenges faced in business by women. Increasingly donors in the Western world are becoming more passionate about assisting females to progress within the commercial world. What I lot we learnt!   
Our ladies spoke of  the lack of respect that men can have for women in business, choosing to intimidate or offer different, less favourable terms business terms. Interestingly enough our ladies said that if they stood up to men their behaviour would change. On the flip side though they spoke of the increased level of trust that men have in them over other business men when it comes to loaning money and supplying product and services on credit. 

Some of our clients mentioned a phrase 'triple burden'. This is the responsibility of  a career/ business, husband and children. Indicating that they share more of the household load. What amazed me was that they took this challenge all in their stride. Many of our female clients have a number of children, a job a couple of businesses on the side as well as a partner. I found this a very humbling experience. So what does this mean for Grow and our VCs? 

1. VCs to be conscious of the additional work load that falls to our female entrepreneurs that may not be shared in the same way that perhaps we have in the UK, Europe and North America.

2. Build confidence. We all need people to believe in us, but our ladies need that belief, as well as the skills to negotiate against unfavourable behaviours.

Whist we had a great evening talking about business challenges and how we could improve the grow process, the food was not great. I have to say I felt really proud of the impression that our clients have when Grace who runs a construction and rental agency said..'Ah Claire, the pork is so bad, the service is bad, you know they need a Grow consultant!'

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