VOLUNTEER CONSULTANT

Shelley Heaven Bailey

“My Grow experience was invaluable!”

Shelley is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant with 15 years of experience across finance functions including education, insurance and property management, including CFO roles. She has worked at PWC as a management consultant for six years, focusing on corporate and business strategy development, business process improvement and finance function transformation across the UK, US, Singapore and the Caribbean. Shelleys’ expertise lie in financial management, operations management business process improvement and re-engineering, Strategy development, business transformation and general management.

Shelley worked with Mustapher Ssebyala, aged 23, who runs United Networkers Africa, which provides personal and professional development support and training for network marketing business professionals in Uganda, including organising conferences that bring in external speakers. He also sells personal and professional development material such as books and DVDs.

"I volunteered because I wanted to make a difference by using my skills and expertise to help micro entrepreneurs grow their businesses."

"My first phone call was reasonably OK. There was a slight difficulty understanding Mustapher's accent, but it was manageable. He was very excited to be a part of the programme and was very appreciative for the support. I asked him to tell me the biggest challenges he was facing in the business, to help identify areas of potential focus. I also gave him an Excel template to complete with some basic financial information on costs and revenues and that calculated some basic ratios. This allowed us to see that costs were high, profitability was low and that sales commissions were a very high percentage of sales (and significantly higher than going rates in the market). Delivery costs were also very high and were a significant percentage of sales. I used financial statement analysis and financial ratio analysis to help identify the main problem areas to focus on."

"The length of sessions varied from 1 hour to 2.5 hours. In addition to phone/Skype sessions, we also communicated via email and WhatsApp chat in between sessions. The preparation depended on the focus of the session. Examples included preparing the excel template that I needed him to complete ahead of the session and subsequently reviewing the completed Excel file sent back (ahead of subsequent sessions) that we used to track the weekly/monthly financial results and ratios to see how the business was improving following the changes we made. We had a good amount of email interaction to follow up in between sessions as well as to share documents back and forth that were part of homework for various sessions. We set our objective after phase 1 which was to focus on increasing DVD sales and profitability."

"The challenges were basic business-related ones, which is where I was able to add value. Where there was information that I needed to understand better about their market, I asked the entrepreneur for clarification and used that to inform the advice I gave. I had the team do some research on sales commissions for similar businesses and it was discovered that my entrepreneurs were paying up to three times more in some cases. This insight enabled them to implement a new commissions structure with new sales representatives, that was more than 50% less than what they were paying before. We introduced a tiered incentive system to increase commissions based on increased volume of sales. We agreed to investigate new delivery options and negotiate discounts with couriers based on volumes, this led to a more than 50% reduction in delivery costs. A new model was suggested for recruiting sales people nearer to the target market and locations, which set them up to significantly increase sales. The changes led to a reduction in costs and  increase in profitability, DVD sales also grew by with the increase in the number of sales people."

"It is challenging cross-culture at times. My entrepreneur was a bit less outspoken and though we had initially agreed to doing Skype calls, and I repeatedly asked if it was a problem given the cost and how they would get access, he indicated it was fine and not a problem, which turned out not to be the case. A few meetings were therefore difficult to arrange initially due to those challenges. Our Grow Movement Country Manager helped to identify this so it could be resolved. Agreeing times that could work for us both given the time difference with the UK and the fact that I have a demanding job was also a challenge. However, I scheduled some meetings on weekends, which worked well for both me and Mustapher."

"Professionally, Grow Movement provided the opportunity for me to have experience of providing business advice in a completely new business context, culture and country to what I was familiar with before. This enhances my overall breadth of business and consulting experience. I also want to spend some time doing some volunteer activity where I can give back to society in some way. Grow allowed me to be able to do this in a way that I was able to make a big impact while still fitting in with my life without too much disruption when compared to some other types of volunteer activities. It's a fantastic opportunity to utilise your business knowledge and make an impact with micro entrepreneurs that really need this help and potentially do not have the capability. It also gives you the opportunity to have this very practical experience of learning about the business environment in another country and enabling you to directly influence real life commercial decisions in that context."

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