Running the London Marathon for Grow Movement

Running the London Marathon for Grow Movement

Running the London Marathon for Grow Movement

London Marathon 2015 report
Jeremy Roebuck, Scotland Country Manager and #uganda600 interviewer talks about his experience running the London Marathon for Grow Movement! Sponsorship page at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/jeremy4grow is open for another month.

“I went down to London on the Friday before the race to pick up my number from the Expo, held at Excel in Docklands. I’d wondered about the number of people who’d be trying to collect numbers simultaneously but the organisation was excellent and it only took me a couple of minutes to pick up chip & number. I then went through to browse the Expo exhibits and was lucky to catch Wilson Kipsang & Dennis Kimetto being interviewed on stage. Really inspirational athletes, modest but with a clear passion for the sport. Martin Yelling was great at teasing out subtleties in their responses. He asked both how they planned to celebrate after the race and Kipsang said he’d have “a little rice” which drew a laugh from an audience with pies and pints on their minds. Martin allowed a couple of people in the audience to ask questions before he wrapped the session up. At this point quite a few folk (maybe 20+) went into the stage and started taking selfies with Wilson & Dennis, which felt disrespectful in a way, but the guys kept smiling.

On the race day I

I travelled to Blackheath, firstly on the tube and then overground from Charring Cross – all free courtesy of Transport for London, you just had to show your race number. The walk from Blackheath station towards the start was interesting in terms of the atmosphere. People were silent or chatting only quietly. Nearest I can liken it to is the walk back from Murrayfield when Scotland have lost and people don’t really like talking much. It wasn’t solemn exactly but certainly far from celebratory. I got to the Green start area around 8:20am and there were already thousands there and for the next couple of hours thousands more arrived. It was chilly but the arrangements were excellent. We started to get into the pens around 9:30, I was in number 5 (of 9). Around 9:50 we started discarding bin liners, old jumpers etc and a guy with a Yorkshire accent behind me said “I’m coming back ‘ere after, there’s some good jackets there”

I’d had the impression from TV that it takes ages to cross the line but it wasn’t so for the Green starters. Even though I was starting half way back I still crossed the line at 10:13, only three minutes after the gun. I don’t generally run with headphones but had been listening to podcasts whilst waiting for the start and just as I approached the line a text came in from number 2 daughter wishing me luck & hoping I’d taken appropriate chafing precautions – a nice way to start. From the start and continuous for the rest of the route there were large crowds, all seeming to be having a good time. Pubs on the route either had bands playing outside or PA equipment & DJs, Springsteen’s Born to Run just before Greenwich was a particularly welcome & uplifting sound.

I’d set myself a target pace of 9:10/m and despite the sheer number of runners was 4 minutes ahead of target by Tower Bridge. We turned right towards Docklands and shortly after managed to spot & wave to Valerie (Mrs R) which perked me up no end. A couple of minutes later I spotted Paula on her way back from Docklands. Shortly thereafter Spiderman, a couple of yards ahead of me, waved to Spiderman running in the opposite direction, clearly one of them was an imposter.
At 18 miles it all started going wrong and by 21 I wasn’t a happy bunny at all. My right shoulder was dropping down and it felt I was running a bit sideways. Even some great music and atmosphere from RunDemCrew didn’t help and by 23 (back at Tower Bridge) I was in real trouble. The next few miles where very, very tough.

Two-thirds the way down Birdcage Walk I heard Claire Jenkins, Chief Executive of Grow Movement (the charity I ran for – www.growmovement.org ) shout to me & I turned back to wave and nearly fell over in turning forwards again. Really happy to have seen her as I could easily have been right on the other side of very wide road. Very unstable and struggling at this point.

Round the corner and onto the Mall, the sign saying “385 Yards To Go” was a welcome site and I crossed the line in a bit of a blur. I’d lost the 5 minutes I was ahead of target at the half way stage and another 6 to finish in 4:11:20. There was great organisation in the finishers’ area and several paramedics separately asked if I was alright (I wasn’t really). Collected my medal & goody bag and had a sit down for a couple of minutes before heading off to The Porterhouse pub (highly recommended, near Covent Garden) to meet Valerie & Claire.

The organisation was outstanding from start to finish, the support from the crowds was amazing and overall a truly memorable (but painful) experience. I’m really grateful to Haddington Running Club for the opportunity to run.”

Sponsorship page at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/jeremy4grow is open for another month.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

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Leaving BT and Tesco for the Charity Sector!

Leaving BT and Tesco for the Charity Sector!

Leaving BT and Tesco for the Charity Sector!

Claire Jenkins on Consulting for a Cause
09-Apr-2015 – Three years ago, Claire Jenkins (now of Grow Movement) was filling out her personal development plan at BT Group, the British telecommunications firm where she worked, and felt the lights slowly going out in her head.

“I went through the main business functions: HR, Transformation, Operations, and felt totally uninspired by any of the options and thought, ‘Right, it is time to go and find something that I want to do!’

She found an advertisement on escapethecity.org for a position at Grow Movement, and was excited about the mixture of charity and business combined with the clear goal of creating jobs. Today she is surrounded by incredible volunteers working with smart and driven entrepreneurs from across Africa.

“This matched my value set and away I went!” Claire says. Today, Claire is the CEO at Grow Movement, a U.K.-based organization that strives to lift people out of poverty by empowering African entrepreneurs with pro bono business coaching via Skype.
Here, she shares more about Grow Movement’s mission and how it’s helped both volunteers and entrepreneurs alike grow their businesses and experience. Read on:

Can you tell us the story behind Grow Movement?
The Grow Founder Chris Coughlan had spent time as an election monitor for the European Union in Rwanda and Congo. He was struck by the amount of talented youth that were not working because of lack of opportunity. He was also amazed by the number of farmers in rural locations getting text message advice on crop prices. The brain wave came one day when running through Regents Park: if you can do farming advice via text, can you do business advice via Skype? One phone call to the British embassy in Uganda, and our first trial with 10 clients in 2009 started!

Why are you so passionate about empowering African entrepreneurs?
I am passionate about people and correcting life’s lottery. I have been such a lucky person. I grew up in a family that respected education. Every opportunity has been made available to me and I have grabbed every single one. It has always bothered me on a deep level that life’s lottery sent me this to this amazing country and incredible parents while others are not so fortunate. They may have the same amazing parents with the same vision, but the opportunities are just not there. I wanted to help balance this out; I wanted to create opportunities for others, but in a way that is respectful and not demeaning. That brings out the best in people. Grow Movement does this for both its entrepreneurs and its volunteers.

What are the biggest challenges facing these entrepreneurs today?

The biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is a lack of business skills. Business owners are often driven into entrepreneurship through lack of any other opportunity in both the private and public sector. Without access to full education and business training, many of our clients have underdeveloped skills in finance, strategy and marketing, which limits the progression of their business. They work incredibly hard with drive, passion and determination, but do not get the benefits.

How can business consultants volunteer for Grow Movement?
Apply to growmovement.org and click on become a volunteer consultant. You will then be interviewed by an existing consultant who will tell you (warts and all) about the challenges and benefits involved! A six-month commitment, 12 sessions, approximately three hours every other week.

What topics or areas are your volunteers most often coaching entrepreneurs on?
The three main areas are finance, marketing and strategy. In terms of finance, it is cash flows, operating costs and pricing. For marketing, it is understanding competition, asking customers what they want, and increasing the average spend per customers and overall number. In terms of strategy, it is how to plan the business. On the softer side, it is the confidence to run a business.

How have these volunteer experiences affected business consultants?
Volunteering with Grow Movement is a motivating, refreshing, unique and AMAZING experience! As people, we are happy and engaged in life when we are learning. No matter the age or business experience, you will learn at Grow Movement about another country, the business landscape and yourself. Many of our consultants have reflected on their life and job and have gone on to be entrepreneurs in their own right. Seeing the challenges our clients face gives them the final push.

Grow Movement has opened up a new volunteering opportunity for men. Most charities run with 70 percent female volunteers; whereas as Grow has 72 percent male volunteers. Prior to Grow, it seemed there was a lack of opportunities for men to volunteer in such a way.

How can volunteering for an organization like yours help a consultant in their career?

  • Access a global network of business consultants
  • Improve communication skills: cross cultural communication via technology
  • Develop and enhance consulting and coaching skills
  • Increase knowledge of emerging markets and problems facing small business
  • Bragging rights – lots to talk about in an interview about creating employment in another country by Skype.

What skillsets would you like to see more of your volunteers develop?
How to tackle business problems in a creative, non-standard way. Too often, our volunteers come up with marketing ideas of TV, flyers and radio; and these just do not suit the audience. Our best volunteers get creative and really listen to the client; and have a way of really knowing when they have suggested a daft idea, but the client is too polite to say! This experience really develops creative problem-solving skills.

Grow gives volunteers the opportunity to be creative. Standard solutions do not always apply here. Our volunteers have the skills to do this, but often are so used to standard tool kits; so they really relish the challenge of being able to take an alternative perspective.

Regarding cross-cultural communication skills: often our volunteers go at such speed they fail to check if our clients have understood them, or if what they have suggested is a good idea. Our clients, out of respect for their teacher, will not always say so. Often, time is wasted on an idea that will not work; and if the volunteer had just slightly altered their questioning and probing skills, they would have realized this.

How do you think these same skills can be applied to their own careers?
Creative problem solving is essential in any role. The Grow Movement experience reignites these skills within the workplace. And along with the refreshing nature of assisting someone in a tangible way, the experience boosts many of our volunteers at work.

Being able to communicate across cultures and via technology helps many of our volunteers to re-evaluate how they can communicate more effectively and simply, while ensuring that have been understood. It also increases people’s confidence in working with different cultures.

Can you share one of your favourite success stories?
My favourite stories are always when I see both the client and the volunteer learn and grow. Volunteering is a two-way street and is most successful when both sides benefit.

I met George Msuga, who set up his own business making a unique product that addresses a nutritional problem for young children in his village. Young children are not allowed to eat fish because of problems with choking. George makes a sauce that blends peanut and dried fish that he sells in local shops and via friends. George is just one of those people that you want to help because he inspires you. He is driven yet humble. He left his job working in an abattoir because he wanted to discover who he really was.

I met his consultant, Sean Clancy, a procurement specialist from London. He said, “Claire, this will be easy. I’ve been around the block a few times, nothing I haven’t seen.” A few months later this had turned into, “I learn from George each time I speak to him, I am learning more from him than he is from me. This is the best experience I have had in 30 years.”

George is now working full time for his business and providing for his family, as well as employing others to sell his product.

Monday, 20 April 2015

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Eric Visits Uganda and the new #Uganda600 client managers!

Eric Visits Uganda and the new #Uganda600 client managers!

Eric Visits Uganda and the new #Uganda600 client managers!

2015 continues to be a very exciting year for Grow movement. Grow movement staff members, volunteers as well as researchers have been pulling resources together to make sure #UGANDA 600 Project becomes a success. Indeed, this is all we need to prove that there is a cost effective way to help fight against unemployment by simply bridging business skills gap. For new Client managers, the three months’’ standard settle in Period’’ is not granted. Training is the only learning time they have,

Why I flew to Uganda to join the training sessions
Over the last two weeks, I joined my colleagues, Judith and Mohammed in Kampala to take part in the Clients Managers training program.
As existing staff members, our role was to share our experience. We have been there before, we know what it takes. The training material was well designed, dominated by role plays and possible scenarios. We were in the training room as facilitators. Training sessions were more Participatory, many questions were raised particularly during Client management, Volunteers management sessions. Here are some forms of questions which came up more frequently-How have you been handling this situation?-What would you do in this situation?-Have you had a similar case before?-What is the usual Grow way of addressing this particular issue?

Client Managers role
I know you are all used to Country Managers; Client Managers were hired to do more less the same Job as the Country Managers do. However, Client Managers’ Job is slightly different. For example, Client recruitment, interviews and impact assessment are not part of the Agenda for them until after December.
This group of ten Client Managers, coming early July, will be matched with 60 clients each .They will be tasked to Manage those projects and make sure twelve sessions are successfully delivered between July and December. Whether it requires going out at clients’ premises with a laptop and a dongle to facilitate a session, making a phone call to remind a client of the next session date, send a quick email on behalf of a client who hasn’t completed an assignment yet or is in a remote area with limited network access, they are going to be on top of the game in order to be able to complete sessions on time and avoid drop outs. The Good news is Grow movement is a family, as existing staff members; we will be there to help them be successful in very possible ways.

My impression of new Client Managers
I was very impressed with Client Managers’ enthusiasm. They are all talented, young people; seem to be picking up things with ease. In addition to that they have previous work experience ranging from sales, research project management, customer service and operations. For any project to be successful you don’t only need people, you need right people. With these energetic Client managers, I have no doubt that by December, projects will be successfully completed.

Congratulations to all new Client Managers-We wish them all the best in the new role!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

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Open University Graduate and ILM Fellow runs London Marathon

Open University Graduate and ILM Fellow runs London Marathon

Open University Graduate and ILM Fellow runs London Marathon

Grow’s Scotland Country Manager, Jeremy Roebuck based up in Edinburgh is running the London Marathon for Grow Movement on Sunday 26th April.

Jeremy, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a graduate from the Open University Business School is heavily involved as a volunteer for Grow Movement. He acts as a mentor for the Grow Rwanda Country Manager, Eric Iyaremye, as the Scotland Country Manager and is also part of the #uganda600 recruitment team. Good luck Jeremy!!Sponsor Jeremy!

For the work that Jeremy under takes with Grow Movement he has been nominated for an award with the Open University. If you are an OUBS alumni, please get your class mates voting!


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

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Grow’s Award Winning Chairman!

Grow’s Award Winning Chairman!

Grow’s Award Winning Chairman!

At the Royal Institution on 26 March, Mark Neild, MD of Reading based Agileering Ltd Cass Business School Alumni and ILM Fellow was awarded Mentor of the Year 2014 for the Thames Valley Region. Nominated for his work coaching African entrepreneurs through the charity Grow Movement, CEO Claire Jenkins noted “As well as inspiring his Rwandan client to new heights, Mark has been doing amazing things to support Grow Movement consultants more widely. His insights into best practice in motivating and enabling our clients; and explaining when teaching, coaching or mentoring works best are hugely appreciated by our volunteer consultants. His patient pragmatic coaching style is highly effective.”

In the UK, Mark is best known as one of the Mentors in residence at Reading’s new innovation hub Grow@Green Park, which launched in summer 2014. Co-founder Adam Clark praised Mark’s “great talent for cutting through complexity – getting straight to “cause and effect”. He sees the bigger picture clearly but also is exceptionally good at all those fiddly details you miss when you’re too close to your own business.” Mark is also a mentor and judge for the City University City Spark start-up competition and coached at the Oxford Launch event at Said Business School last autumn. Thames Valley SMEs benefit from his expertise in strategy and leadership coaching through Growth Accelerator the Government backed scheme that supports business growth in smaller firms.

Mark Neild Grow Chair with CMI CEO

In January, Mark took over as Chairman of Grow Movement and is now leading the charity through its own major growth program to deliver 100 times more impact by 2020. His first tasks were to commission a new workflow and knowledge management system and enter a collaboration agreement with the London Business School for a breakthrough study into the impact of entrepreneur education on alleviating poverty in Uganda. “We are running 600 projects with entrepreneurs in Uganda in the second half of this year – the scale is a little nerve-racking, but the opportunity to prove that effective coaching leads to growth is fantastic. We are really keen to recruit more business people to volunteer at www.GrowMovement.org. We use phone and video conferencing so there is no need to travel, making it by far the most cost-effective economic growth

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

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