Thursday, 25 June 2015

Denyse in Rwanda is an Outstanding Emerging Leader!

Grow Movement HQ is very proud to announce that  Denyse Uwineza, Rwanda intern supporting Rwanda Manager, Eric Iyaremye has been award recognised as one of Africa’s Most Outstanding Emerging Women Leaders. She has been selected to be a MILEAD Fellow 2015 for her courage and commitment to lead and shape the future of Africa. Well done Denyse!
Denyse Uwineza

 “I am passionate about promoting women and gender issues after observing that sometimes women and girls sometimes are marginalized by society, family and friends. This is why I have chosen to complete a Master of Arts and Social Sciences degree specializing in Gender and Development in the College of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Rwanda. I have attended several gender training sessions at the international level (women health empowerment intensive course and intermediate mentor training) and active in youth movements (Rwanda Youth Alliance for Climate Actions, gender for results network, International Youth Fellowship and Ignite the Youth Africa). Interning at Grow I have been passionate about supporting our female entrepreneurs and actively finding more for our programme.”
“This program means much to me, it gives an opportunity to young women to contribute to the improvement of the situation of women in Africa. It serves as a platform for Fellows to cross-examine concepts of leadership in a broad African context, cultivate the skills and experiences necessary to occupy and excel in leadership positions, and gain knowledge on cutting-edge issues critical to African women and their communities.”

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Ugandan Diaspora talks about volunteering with Grow Movement

Mathias talking about being a VC
 Grow Movement was very excited to have one of it's volunteer consultants, Mathias Ssenabulya, visit our Uganda office and take part in #Uganda600 training of our new team. Here he talks about his experience and why he is so passionate as a member of the Uganda Diaspora of Canada to be part of Grow Movement...
Mathias Ssenabulya
VC since August 2014
Software Consultant and Owner of Dextrous Consulting in Toronto Canada

"I grew up in Canada with the majority of my extended family living in Uganda.  One of the impressions I remember the most as a child was witnessing the vast differences in the way of life in the two contries, especially after the civil war in the 80's.  I've always asked myself the question "Why? Why is it so different?  What is it that makes that difference?".  Why don't I see the same level of prosperity in Uganda that I see in Canada?"

"In the past I've done work with Uganda NGOs but when I came across Grow Movement last year, I knew that there was something remarkable about the impact that could be made.  The focus on helping entrepreneurs grow and create jobs was something I instantly wanted to be a part of.  What's more is that I could finally use the best  of what I'd learned over the years in business to make a tangible difference for people in  my own country."

"I had the opportunity to spend a day with Mohammed, Judith, the new client manager team and project managers Janine and Christie on my recent visit to Kampala and share my experiences in Grow Movement at a training session, but I also learned about difference scenarios, challenges and successes that are the day-to-day reality of this consulting paradigm."

"The team had many questions about how the consulting calls actually go and what issues come up in the 6-month engagement.  What struck me is that despite the differences we all have in our cultural perceptions, communication, and way of life, there is clearly a very tangible benefit that the clients get from our calls.  It's amazing to know that an idea that may be second nature to one person, can literally change everything for another, especially in business."

"I believe that a lot of this is simply due to the value of having a different perspective.  I've long suspected that the value of a different perspective flows in both directions.  Now I am convinced."

"I'm very excited to be a part of it all and thrilled to see us delivering the program at a higher level in 2015 as #Uganda600 kicks into full swing!"

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Open University Alumnus of the Year 2014 Jeremy Roebuck!

Jeremy Roebuck receiving his caward
Jeremy Roebuck writes about his experience winning the Open University Business School Alumni contribution to Society for his work with Grow Movement. Well done Jeremy and a thank you from all here at Grow HQ.
I’ve been a volunteer with Grow Movement for a couple of years now, helping to support clients in Rwanda as well as representing & promoting the charity here in Scotland.

I completed my MBA with Open University Business School (OUBS) back in 1999 and have great respect & admiration for the OU because of what OU study did for my life and for tens of thousands of other people. It was, therefore, a great honour to be nominated by Grow Movement in this year’s OUBS Alumni Awards.

The Awards Day at the OU’s Milton Keynes campus started with a short reception and then a visit to the very high-tech library. The campus is very modern but feels different from other universities I’ve visited as there are no students around – all the OU’s students are distance learners. After the library we had a real treat, a visit to the OU Space Centre and saw the university’s contributions to the spacecraft Beagle 2 (landed on Mars in 2003) & Philae/ Rosetta (landed on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in November 2014). As a regular watcher of BBC’s The Sky at Night this was really fascinating; I also got to touch a meteorite older than our solar system!

After a formal lunch with the Dean of the Business School and other senior academics, we moved through to the hall where the awards took place. The presentations started with awards for a number of current students who had achieved excellent marks in their studies whilst also achieving great things in their full time work roles.

Then towards the end of the ceremony, three of us who’d all achieved our MBAs some time ago received awards for services to the alumni community, service to an organisation and my award ‘for contribution to society’.

Throughout the day I had the opportunity to talk with many people, both nominees and OU staff, about what Grow Movement does and all were interested in the work we do. Very kindly the OUBS alumni office (#OUBS) offered to promote Grow Movement to the alumni.

In summary, a great occasion where I was proud to represent both Grow Movement and the OU alumni.



Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Adam Bolton AMBA Membership Director talks about Tailoring in Malawi

Image result for adam bolton ~AMbaWill you use your MBA to make a real difference to micro-SMEs and entrepreneurs in Africa?

Adam Bolton, AMBA Membership Director speaks about the value of the skills he developed through his career and how he used them to develop a tailoring business in Malawi by Skype. 
Throughout my career I’ve been blessed with a wealth of personal and professional training and development. Over the years I have gained a degree, two post-grad business qualifications, attended numerous seminars, courses, conferences and more recently participated in webinars and online learning covering a wide range of subjects including sales and marketing, strategic development, finance and accounting, risk, law and legislation, people management, leadership, problem solving and project management as well as soft skills such as presentation and negotiation skills, decision making and managing people.
I’ve always believed in the importance of continuous professional development and strived to develop new knowledge and skills. Perhaps it’s in the genes- my father taught himself to speak Welsh in his 80’s! I’ve also been lucky to work for organisations that have encouraged professional development, after all the knowledge and skills I have acquired are the tools that enable me to do my job well, to develop my teams, and ultimately to benefit the organisations I’ve work for.
A lot of what I have learned I’ve assimilated into my day to day work; a lot I’ve probably forgotten! And pretty much all of it I take for granted. But where would I be if I hadn’t had access to this training and development? Of course it’s possible to get on in business without formal training- there are exceptions to every rule but even very successful entrepreneurs with few or no formal qualifications need support and guidance from non-execs, mentors, business advisors and key staff, for example, Richard Branson, famously a high-school drop out, surrounds himself with MBAs to actually run his Virgin business empire.  
About a year ago I was introduced to Mirriam. Mirriam lives in Malawi with her husband and two children and is an entrepreneur. About a year before we met she had set up a small business employing a local man who she knew, who was an excellent tailor.
Malawi has been impacted in recent years by an influx of cheap Chinese manufactured clothes, these were often poor quality or not of the right design, but they were affordable so were popular. The problem was that they weren’t very stylish (and Malawians like their clothes) and they weren’t very good quality so didn’t last. Mirriam had spotted a niche in the market- repairing and altering these clothes to create more distinctive designs which lasted longer.
She had had initial success promoting the business through word of mouth to her friends and family but was stuck as how to grow the business. She was juggling being an entrepreneur with being a mother, wife and holding down another job.
Mirriam had a vision, she had drive and enthusiasm, and an entrepreneurial spirit, but she didn’t have the knowledge or tools to take her business forward and that’s where I came in. Or more specifically where Grow Movement came in. Grow Movement link micro-entrepreneurs in Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda with business professionals from around the world, utilising mobile technology. We work as volunteer consultants, working with 4 projects a year, each for 12 weeks. We initially spend time building trust and learning about the business and the drivers and motivations of the entrepreneur, then we mentor them. We aren’t there to tell them how to run their businesses, but to offer support, guidance and the tools to enable and empower them to achieve their vision.
In Mirriam’s case she wanted to be able to give up her other job and run the tailoring business full time, employing more local people as tailors and designers and expanding the business into design and manufacture. We looked at her current income and worked out what level of income she would need to be able to go full-time.
We looked at her cash flow- she wasn’t always being paid on time (if at all) and put in place some simple measures to ensure that she got paid upfront or upon completion of the work.
We looked at sales and marketing techniques- how she could promote her business to a wider customer base and use her current customers to promote the business for her; we researched larger customers and potential markets such as school uniforms, wedding suppliers and work wear and made some contacts online.
We looked at how she incentivised her tailor, (he was paid per job, irrespective of how long it took him to complete and while he was very good, he was very, very slow!) and put in place incremental rewards for quality and quantity, she also looked employ a part-time less experienced tailor to take on the more simple work.  
The concepts that I shared with Mirriam are bread and butter to an MBA, the very basic building blocks of any business or project- strategy, sales and marketing, finance, people management- but if you haven’t been exposed to these concepts where do you start? Another significant benefit, I learned later, was having the opportunity to talk to someone who understood the challenges, who Mirriam could bounce ideas off, who could provide critical appraisal- exactly what we use our networks, colleagues and peers for.
The weekly sessions took just one hour of face to face time (by Skype), plus time between each session preparing and doing follow-up work, but this wasn’t onerous- in fact I really enjoyed doing it, it was stimulating and rewarding. Logistically it wasn’t always easy- my work schedule was quite heavy, sometimes Mirriam had other more pressing challenges and sometimes we were let down by the technology, but with some understanding, patience and determination we got there in the end. I was sad when the assignment came to an end but was delighted to hear back that Mirriam was doing well, the business was flourishing and she was in the process of setting up another business with her sisters!
So why am I telling you this? Well, the answer is simple- as part of it's #UGANDA600 impact evaluation project Grow Movement is recruiting more consultants and I’d like to ask you each to consider volunteering. We already have a number of AMBA members (myself included) on board and it would be great if we could increase our representation. It’s a fantastic and worthwhile way to share some of the knowledge and skills that we have been privileged enough to gain, it’s personally rewarding to really make a difference and it can be great fun.
To find out how Grow Movement came about watch this TED Talk given by founder Chris Coghlan, at the London Business School in 2012,  I challenge you not to feel inspired! 
For more information on how to get involved visit the website and to sign up as a volunteer consultant please simply fill in this form.
Grow Movement is supported by London Business School, Imperial College, London and Cass Business School