Friday, 11 September 2015

Grow Treasurer Nominated for Financial Leadership Award with Sayer Vincent

Grow Movement is thrilled to announce that its Treasurer, Karim Bennouna has been shortlisted for a Financial Leadership Award with  Sayer Vincent  for his volunteer work  managing Grow's financial planning and accounts. Well done Karim, we look forwards to the results on September the 17th! Great to see organisations like Sayer Vincent honoring the work that volunteers do!

Grow Movement on TVCnews

Claire Jenkins
Alvi Kuti being interviewed
 GrowMovement had its first TV appearance last week on TVCnews, a Pan African TV channel. Given less than 24 hours notice to organise our CEO, London based volunteers with African Heritage to talk with their clients via Skype and to prepare a team meeting! TV report Joyce Ohajah interviewed the Grow team..our CEO even had to tidy up her desk!

Joyce Ohajah
Takudzwa Kufa, a British Zimbabwean was filmed talking with his first client, Jean Claude Ntakirutima in Rwanda who runs a waste recycling business; Kigali Sanitation. They first worked together over a year ago so it was great for them to catch up! Jean Claude has continued with Grow Movement and is now working on a computer recycling proposition.

Alvin Kuti, spoke about his experience working with Malawi and
now Ugandan entrepreneurs and why he chooses to volunteer with Grow Movement.

Click here to hear what the Grow team had to say!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Launching are we doing?

On the 20th July Grow Movement launched more projects in one day than in our entire combined history of 5 years. 570 projects went live on our new IT system. At Grow we  do like a challenge so launching all of this on one day some may say 'crazy', others admire our go getting nature.

Uganda600 calling!
So 7 weeks on how are we doing? Today we have 520 projects left so we are running at around a 90% success rate which is a huge improvement on our standard rate which is usually around 75%. The drivers for this improvement is enabling our client managers to be present during the first and second sessions. We have found that this is invaluable in supporting our clients who can often be nervous and very unsure on what to expect..which is often the case for our volunteers too!

The main drivers for our project fails have been down to clients' business closing, or others just feeling that this is too overwhelming, or perhaps just missing what a great opportunity this is. We have had a number of volunteers drop out as well owing to change in work commitments, or illness within the family. All clients that have had a failed VC have been re-matched if the client manager agrees the client should stay on the programme. For those volunteers who have had a failed client most have been re-matched and any should have been contacted this week by your client manager.

Our new IT system has proved to be a big hit especially with our volunteers who have been with Grow for a while. 2 years ago we were all excel and google docs with VCs emailing our client managers to update on progress. Now volunteers can record their sessions on line, leaving cpomments that our client managers can see. We have had a few teething problems in terms of log ins, emails going to spam, session dates not being recorded properly! These are all being worked out. The online community and mobile versions will be available from the 1st of October 2015.

Making calls!
Other challenges have included 'boot leg videos'. When you run so many projects on mass situations that have been a round for a while suddenly take on a different light. Across Africa, South East Asia and South Americas boot leg DVD retailers are quite common and an entry point into business for many entrepreneurs. A number of VCs raised the issue if Grow should be working with those companies that flout international copy right laws, yet are registered to retail in Uganda. Grow took counsel from Enterprise Uganda, London Business School and members of our Uganda Advisory Board and made the decision to work only with those companies that have revenue from other products and services other than boot leg DVDs. A difficult decision to take.

Uganda 600 talking!
Further challenges include the 'adjustment process' for new VCs. With over 400 new VCs getting to grips with clients without email access, smart phone or lap tops and whom have a very different approach to time, who will cancel sessions at the last minute and not do home takes time! It is often difficult to know in the beginning how many sessions is it ok to cancel, how late can a client be before they are being rude? The simple answer is just to be patient..our clients are new to this process and at the start do not fully get it. Be patient, relax and stick with it. Once you get over session 5 the penny drops.....on both sides!

Shortlisted for 3 Third Sector Excellence Awards

 Recently Grow was asked, 'What you do is amazing, what awards have you won?'  Simple answer is none, we have never spent the time on applications feeling that management time was better spent elsewhere. During our recruitment for #Uganda600 Grow spoke to many different companies and often we heard 'What you do is amazing, why have we not heard about you before?'

Grow decided it was time to start winning some awards so we can show case our incredible clients and volunteers making an immense impact around the world. Grow is thrilled to announce that we have been shortlisted for 3 awards with Third Sector Excellence Awards.

Volunteer of the Year (Jeremy Roebuck)
Volunteer Manager of the Year (Claire Jenkins:
Small Charity, Big Impact

A big thank you goes to those volunteers who help redraft our applications, and of course to our clients, operations teams in country, our volunteers and our Board of Trustees. We are able to have this impact because of you!

Results to be announced on September 26th. Watch this space!

German Consultant Karin Stumpf visits the Uganda600 team in Kampala

Karin with Judith and Mohammed
Volunteering with Grow is a unique and fascinating experience.  Imagine having the opportunity after 3 years and 4 projects to go and visit Kampala. This is exactly what Karin Stumpf from Germany did, even finding time on her holiday to run two masterclasses with Grow clients. 

One Day in Kampala
"...A short ring wakes us: my husband and I have time for a short shower and a brief breakfast, before heading to the Grow Movement head office. As we don't dare to (yet) take the boda bodas, the motorcycle taxis, we walk for 15 minutes and are in sweat when we arrive. 

In the office we meet Judith and Mohamed again. Despite a long evening the night before, where we conducted two Master Classes that they had organized, they are up and running, and already having fun, with us, with themselves. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. We on the other hand are a little more tense, not really knowing what to expect from the day ahead of us: we are to join local project managers while they recruit some of the 600 entrepreneurs for #UGANDA600!

Karin after her masterclass

After a short goodbye to my husband, Hendricah and Mercy take me under their wings. We are heading with a taxi (actually more of a minibus stopping for any potential customer) to the north of Kampala. There I will meet a photographer, enter 3-4 women cloth shops, discover why photocopying and tailoring should be offered in the same shop (at least when you are close to students needing a graduation gown AND a place to have their thesis printed), see 20 PC shops one next to the other and yes, I will at the end also ride a boda boda. 

Karin in Enterprise Uganda

The day is over very fast and we three girls are exhausted. We have met around 8-10 entrepreneurs in 7 hours. Each entrepreneur has being introduced to the program, first questions around his or her pain points were jotted down, and we had also to reject some entrepreneurs.

I meet my husband back at the hotel. While I had nudged him to follow me in this adventure, he is full of stories and impressions. We both enjoyed the experience that gave us so much insight into businesses in Uganda. Uganda has one of the highest rate of entrepreneurs per capita, and we got to appreciate what it means to face such strong competition while having little financial flexibility. Good to know that we VCs  are helping make a difference in the life of hundreds of Ugandan Entrepreneurs..."

Thank you Karin for being a fantastic volunteer, for supporting Uganda600 volunteers in Europe as well as a Uganda600 client!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Eric celebrates 2 years with Grow Movement in Rwanda!

Eric Iyarmye
    Eric Iyaremye joined Grow Movement 2 years ago and has progressed to be our Country Manager for Rwanda. We selected a great candidate and have seem him flourish beyond any expectations we could have had. Well done Eric, the Grow team is proud of you!                              

"...A few weeks before my Graduation from the National University of Rwanda, back in 2003 I saw a job advert for Grow Movement through Generation Rwanda platform. I didn’t hesitate to apply! I was and I hope I still am quite a positive guy despite all this negative altitude amongst university graduates in Rwanda that there is no way you could get a job straight after college because of the experience requirements. Yes there is a truth in that but I had a couple of volunteering assignments while I was at university which gave me a slight advantage and a bit of luck..."

"...I remember I did three interviews; the second one was the most interesting. I am sure Violet who was Grow movement Country Manager then, a nice Lady and now a big friend of mine would agree that the last few minutes made a big difference on the final decision. By the way I won’t forget another Violet who was on the panel; she is the Country Director for DOT Rwanda, she smiled at me and said you are a smart boy, i will give you a job if Grow movement doesn’t hire you and I confidently said to her “I AM SURE THEY WILL HIRE ME” and yes Grow movement ended up hiring me. It was special because a call came from London when I was on my way back from Graduation ceremony at University..."

"...That was on Wednesday, I started the job on Monday the following week. When I stepped in the office, I didn’t know what to expect, it was a small office and everyone had a cup of coffee, it was not too strange because I was used to a ‘ Mzungo’  environment at Generation Rwanda. Violet gave me a warm welcome and a special induction week, I settled in pretty quickly and got in the job mood straight. Ever since I started the Job, it was great experience .Yes it can be one of those nerve wracking experiences given the fact that someone else’s actions determine your success and therefore you need to chase people  all day long but the skills i learned, the impact I make  cancel all the stress which give me a good feeling..."

"...I can’t believe it’s been two years already, i joined on 1st, September 2013 and that’s why I am sharing this story. Claire Jenkins-Grow movement CEO has been extremely supportive; in fact I can write a piece of its own. Also I can’t forget to mention Jeremy Roebuck, an old volunteer, Grow Scotland Country Manager and My mentor. He did two projects in Rwanda and that’s was our initial bond. It’s one of those times where there are certain people you meet in life when you need them the most. I needed a mentor to help me deal with job challenges and Jeremy has been more that helpful in that capacity. We crossed professional line to develop personal relationship, he knows my career goals and he’s been advising me how to fulfill them. In fact, Jeremy and Claire have been helpful in my pursuit of a scholarship in UK which I am positive I will get. But one thing I’ve learned about Jeremy is that” Life is all about satisfaction”. Even if you make billions and you are not satisfied you will never be happy and that is priceless..."

"...In General, my time at Grow movement so far has been fulfilling, i met all kinds of people from a wide range of background but most importantly, i learned a lot about entrepreneurship and business environment in Rwanda which is critical because I aspire to do something of my own in the future. I can’t thank everyone enough, my Grow movement colleagues in Uganda and Malawi, as well as Educat staff members for all the support and Love. THANK YOU!!.."