Paula is an analyst living in London with an MSc in Economics from the University of St Gallen in Switzerland. Previously she worked as an economist for the UK Treasury, and then moved into Financial Services. Paula worked with Elias in Lilongwe Malawi who runs a furniture business.
“During out first call we had a lot to talk about we managed the problems with phone reception and understanding each other’s accents quite well! I asked a lot of questions to find out about his business and his aspirations, to identify what, if anything, was holding him back. I structured our discussions around the potential to reduce costs, increase revenue and reach new customer groups. I set up a straightforward way to keep financial records to give him better control over the business, and explored potential marketing tools to increase his customer base. “
“I think Elias already was doing quite well with his business; now he does some things more professionally and has new ideas as a result of our sessions. For me it has improved my self confidence, my understanding of small business finance and budgeting and helped me think outside of the box to come up with ideas to market and grow a small business”.
“The experience can be quite frustrating at times. I had to have a bit of patience while waiting for an entrepreneur who really wanted to participate in the programme. Two earlier ones changed their minds about it after I had already invested some time in them. Elias now keeps financial records and uses some simple marketing tools, which he didn't do before. He also expressed a lot of gratitude, which makes it seem that he generally felt quite motivated by the process.”
“Professionally I learnt about building up a good working relationship quickly, and how to bridge the challenges that living in a different culture and different country to the client brings.”
"If you are thinking about volunteering… Do it! It's a small effort on your part for a potentially massively impactful change for someone else! An inspiring and gratifying experience."