Monday, 2 February 2015

Building Grow Movement In Scotland

During 2015 Grow Movement plans to build on the unique relationship that exists between Malawi and Scotland by increasing our presence within the business and volunteering community. Jeremy Roebuck, Scotland Country Manager attended the Scotland Malawi Partnership meeting in early January, held in the magnificent Nelson Mandela Room at Edinburgh's City Chambers. In attendance were representatives from the Scottish government and a number of agencies with an interest in promoting Scotland's historic links with Malawi. A number of interesting contacts were made including one potential Grow Movement volunteer with an expertise in promoting tourism. All delegates expressed sadness when updated on the latest news following the recent flooding. At the next meeting delegates will discuss the creation of links and systems to help businesses in Malawi export to Scotland with a specific focus on Coffee.

Working with the Open University Business School MBA Alumni

Grow CEO with Jacqui Thomasen
Open University Business School 
Grow Movement visited the Open University Business School in January to discuss volunteering opportunities for their MBA Alumni. Grow Movement has a recruitment target of 600 volunteers for June 2015. With the OU having over 23,000 MBA alumni, it is a great place to start! Grow's Scotland Country Manager, Jeremy Roebuck earned his MBA from the OU so was keen to collaborate with them and set up the meeting.

Since meeting with Jacqui Thomasen, the Senior Manager for External Engagement the OU has advertised the opportunity on their Careers Service website, LinkedIn Page and twitter account.

Grow Movement is looking forwards to welcoming more Open University MBA Alumni to the volunteering team.

Regents University International Partners Conference

Grow Movement had the honour of being invited to talk at Regents University's International Partners Conference in January with a panel of guests from IBM,  LinkedIn and Career Volunteer. The panel focused on the value of an 'International Education for Employers'. IBM spoke about the importance of cross cultural communication within the work place and how an international education enables this. Linkedin spoke about the need to ensure that this is reflected on linked in profiles so that employers can see this.

Both Career Volunteer and Grow Movement spoke about the benefits of volunteering to build a professional skills base which is attractive to employers. Volunteering with Grow Movement improves cross cultural communication, coaching, and cross technology communication. Essential skills within the work force today. Grow Movement has had 5 volunteers from Regents Alumni work with micro entrepreneurs across Uganda and Malawi.

Worshipful Company of Management Consultants Charity Evening

The Worshipful Company of Management Consultants celebrated their annual support for Charity last week at Skinners Hall. Each year over £1M of pro bono consultancy is provided to its charitable causes; focusing on improving social outcomes. They work closely with the Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness and have even visited Grow's partner organisation, Enterprise Uganda as part of their work with Youth Business International (YBI).

Working Chance is a UK based charity supporting women with criminal convictions into sustainable jobs. The Head of Operations, Cait Winters spoke about the benefits of their relationship with their pro-bono consultant from The Worshipful Company. The review and advice had significantly impacted their strategy, branding and the role their Board of Trustees played in the organisation. It was clear that both the charity and the consultant had benefited immensely from the experience.

To date Grow Movement has two volunteers consultants who have joined the programme from the Worshipful Company; one based in Poland and the other in Australia both working with clients via Skype and mobile to Malawi. During 2015, Grow Movement hopes to strengthen the number of volunteers that it has coming from the Worshipful Company.

Cass Business School Centre for Charity Effectiveness 10 Year Celebration

Chairman Mark Neild with Grow VC Serena
Grow Movement London spent time at the British Museum last week with the Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness, celebrating their 10 year anniversary. Cass CCE was formed to transform the non-profit sector through carrying out world class research, developing talent through teaching postgraduate courses and programmes and enhancing the performance of the sector through consultancy support and knowledge exchange.

Professor Ian Bruce, Cass CCE’s founding Director, says: “In 10 years Cass CCE has become the go to place for leadership development and consultancy services in the non-profit sector. Our mission then and now is to drive transformation in the sector and enable outstanding leadership.”
Grow Movement Chairman Mark Neild, CEO Claire Jenkins attended with a Cass Business School MBA alumni, Serena Mehta.

Running a partner trial with FINCA Uganda and Chance for Change Malawi

During 2015 Grow Movement has embarked on two new partner pilots. As Grow Movement seeks to expand in both its existing countries and beyond it is important to look at increasing our networks of future entrepreneurs.

The Grow Movement London team recently attended the 30 year celebration of  FINCA at the Houses of Parliament meeting with the Uganda CEO, Julius Omoding. FINCA is a global, non-profit financial institution serving 1.8 million of the lowest income clients in 23 Countries. It is aimed at creating employment, raising family incomes and reducing poverty by providing the financially excluded with banking services. In early January Grow Movement embarked on a trial with 10 FINCA clients in Uganda. Clients are slowly being matched with their volunteers during Jan to March 2015.

The Grow Movement London team also met with Greg Barton and Louis Parkinson from Chance for Change, a Scottish organisation that runs a 6 month programme working with youth who have experienced a challenging start in life in Malawi. To date, five clients have been matched at the end of 2014 and are off to a great start being supproted by VCs in the UK and Australia. Five more clients who only speak the local language Chichewa  will be embarking on Grow's first ever translation trial. Using only experienced Grow VCs the 12 sessions will be delivered via Skype with a Chance for Change case worker translating.   Offering translation via Skype will no doubt be a challenge. Nonetheless with so many clients that are currently unable to access our services it is important to determine if we can make an impact, watch this space!

Homes destroyed in Malawi
Malawi has been subjected to devastating flooding during January with the death toll ranging from 100 - 200 with over 174,000 displaced people and increased risk of outbreaks of cholera and malaria. Post natural disasters we hear a lot about the loss of life, and immediate need for aid. Often little focus is given to rebuilding businesses and the challenges faced by business people affected by electricity rationing and internet outages. The Grow team is safe and well, however some of our clients have not been so lucky.

Evance, young social entrepreneur 
Evance Golden, based in Malawi, supported by Annie Eisler in the USA, runs a business, Golden Furniture and Timber Sales. Since 2010 the business had been on a positive trajectory generating enough cash to fund a new showroom on the main highway through Ntecheu, purchase new carpentry equipment and employ local Aids orphans. He had stock piled timber logs to plan for his long term goal of opening up a vocational training centre to teach carpentry to youths orphaned by Aids.  

Annie, it is very painful and difficult to to explain what has happened here. All but ten of my 350 poles and timbers are gone. Everything I had in my tent is gone: 1 chainsaw, 2 bags of maize for my workers, 5 blankets, 20 knives. The foundation of my 2015 plan is completely gone." 

In early January Evance saw his timber washed away and his business ruined. Sadly in Malawi business insurance is not common place and there is no social security assistance. In order for the Malawi economy to recover the private sector needs support. the majority of aid will be focused on infrastructure and health care with limited focus on business regeneration. If you would like to support a business getting back on its feet please read more

Catching up With Chris the Founder

During January Grow Movement London had the privilege of catching up with its Founder, Chris
Founder & CEO catching up!
Coghlan recently back from the USA.

Chris set up Grow Movement 5 years ago. He had been struck by the amount of human potential being wasted by a lack of employment opportunities in Congo, Rwanda and Mozambique having spent time volunteering there as an Election Monitor for the European Union. After having seen farmers receiving text message advice on crop prices the concept of delivering business advice via Skype was born.

Chris spear headed the Grow expansion into Rwanda and Malawi in 2012 and enabled the first big funding from British Government in 2013 which secured the Grow future for a number of years.

Grow Movement London was pleased to update Chris on our agreement with London Business School and Booth School of Business Chicago to research 600 entrepreneurs in Uganda in June 2015 as well as share our new relationships with the ILM (Institute for Leadership and Management), Cass Business School, Imperial Business School and Reach Skills.

So where is Chris now? Chris has now completed his Masters in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston, USA, recently married and a Dad for the first time. He is now back in the UK, doing yet more amazing activities with his interest in entrepreneurship. He is helping to set up a marine robotics company to serve the Offshore Wind Farm Industry.