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Grow Movement featured in The Economist

Grow Movement featured in The Economist

Grow Movement featured in The Economist

Grow Movement in the Economist

We are excited to share that Grow Movement has been featured in an article written by the Economist. 

“Budding business folk need other sorts of assistance. Down a narrow alley in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, Ivan Zziwa has built a mini-conglomerate. He fixes phones, sells accessories, blends juice, hires out chairs and offers mobile money services, with the help of four people. He says online conversations with a volunteer mentor in Spain prompted him to expand into wholesale and door-to-door deliveries. This offered a way to market his existing businesses to new customers. It may also reduce risk.

The mentoring was arranged by Grow Movement, an ngo that pairs volunteer consultants from all over the world with small businesses in Africa. A forthcoming study finds that entrepreneurs who received this long-distance coaching increased their monthly sales by a quarter. They did so not by changing their business practices, such as accounting, but by changing their entire business. One stationer describes how he started making his own exercise books, which was cheaper than buying them. A rural businessman selling liquid soap and fertiliser decided to expand into solar lights, water filters and cooking stoves after his mentor prodded him to look for unmet needs.”

Click here to read the full article.

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Grow Movement partners with the Rustandy Center at University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Grow Movement partners with the Rustandy Center at University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Grow Movement partners with the Rustandy Center at University of Chicago Booth School of Business

By Grow Movement

We are proud to announce a new partnership with the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, leveraging the skills of Booth MBA alumni globally to build opportunity for Rwandan entrepreneurs. In today’s world of borders closed by disease and division, where coronavirus and climate change hit the poorest hardest, Grow Movement’s task is ever more urgent.

Ten years ago, Violet and Chris (Grow Movement’s founders), asked whether a business person anywhere in the world could make a difference to an African entrepreneur just by talking on the phone. Years of research of over 1000 entrepreneurs, by three of the world’s top ten business schools (including Chicago Booth), have found that we can make a difference: Grow Movement increases micro entrepreneur sales by a quarter on average.

The social impact research was supported, in part, by the Rustandy Center, Chicago Booth’s destination for people committed to helping solve complex social and environmental problems. Our partnership with the Rustandy Center is a powerful step forward as we seek to realise Grow Movement’s calling: Bringing people from different communities, cultures and countries together to help end human poverty in service of our common humanity.

Links & References

22 June 2020

Violet initiated Grow Movement in Uganda with Chris Coghlan in 2010. As an immensely talented young professional, she has been the force behind expanding Grow Movement into Rwanda and Malawi in 2012 and is key to its success. During her time at Grow Movement she helped to create over 500 jobs across the countries Grow operates in. She now leads our operations globally.

Chris witnessed the impact of conflict and extreme poverty on children in post-civil war Mozambique when he was eighteen. He has believed ever since that the struggle to end conflict and extreme poverty is the defining moral issue of our time. Chris initially worked in London as a investment fund manager before founding Grow Movement with Violet Kobusingye, a former refugee from the Rwandan genocide, when he saw the potential of mobile technology to fight poverty. Chris also served as a British diplomat on the Middle East. Chris holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and a Masters in Finance from London Business School. In 2018 Chris was awarded the graduate of the last decade award by London Business School in recognition of his public service and Grow Movement’s work to improve the lives of people in the poorest communities on earth.

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COVID-19, Developing Countries and how you can help

COVID-19, Developing Countries and how you can help

COVID-19, Developing Countries and how you can help

By Zoe Lawson

The biggest disaster for developing nations in our lifetime.

That is how the UK’s Guardian newspaper is referring to the current COVID-19 crisis.  ‘If ever there was a time for concerned citizens and political leaders in both developing and richer countries to come together, it’s now’, they say. The health effects are one thing and they are worrying enough, since ten African countries have no ventilators at all. Malawi, where Grow Movement has carried out projects, is one of the luckier ones with 7 ventilators for a country of 18 million people.

Potentially even more worrying are the economic implications of this pandemic on the lives of ordinary citizens in low income countries. “This pandemic is a health crisis. But not just a health crisis. For vast swathes of the globe, the pandemic will leave deep, deep scars,” noted Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “Without support from the international community, we risk a massive reversal of gains made over the last two decades, and an entire generation lost, if not in lives then in rights, opportunities and dignity.”

Global Recession

It is estimated that $1-2 trillion has already been knocked off the value of the global economy (1), given that the pandemic is affecting three major hubs – Europe, the USA and Asia. As countries in these regions enter economic stagnation/recession, global growth rates slow and this will adversely affect growth rates in developing countries. In addition, if the recession is prolonged, the purchasing power of consumers, including poor consumers, will decline leading to food security issues in the least developed countries.

Effects on food supply

Developing nations often have precarious food production and distribution systems. Whilst developed nations have stable supply chains and citizens have the means to advance purchase food stocks, many people in developing countries work as day-labourers and use their daily earnings to buy that day’s food. COVID-19 lockdown restrictions not only interfere with the production and distribution of food, but also with citizen’s means of purchasing it. Food shortages and price rises could lead to a food security crisis in these regions.

Effects on economies, trade and employment

It is predicted that the adverse effects of COVID-19 are likely to be more severe than those of the 2008 financial crisis, in part because both supply of goods and services and demand for them, are affected. Emerging economies are dependent on trade as a driver of growth, thus disruptions to trade will hit them hard. Loss of export earnings both through disruption of supply chains and lockdowns is projected to cost Africa upwards of $500 billion (2). Global recession means a severe decline in foreign direct investment for developing nations, in addition to removal of capital as investors retreat to less risky markets.

Unemployment is already a major concern in developing nations since the public and private sector do not produce adequate jobs to cover the majority population. This forces many people to create alternative employment for themselves by establishing small businesses as well as engaging in agricultural activities (3). 71% of Africa’s workforce is informally employed and most cannot work from home. Forced closures and reduced consumer demand due to COVID-19 protection measures will thus have a negative effect on both production and employment. All this combined with an absence of government-run social safety nets creates a perfect storm for an unemployment crisis and increasing poverty.

Effects on the most vulnerable

Many ordinary citizens in developing nations are vulnerable to the consequences of COVID-19, but some are especially so. It is women and children who bear the brunt of financial crisis impacts, as seen in the global financial crisis of 2008 (4). The inevitable rise in domestic violence under lockdown is one thing, but the pandemic is also deepening pre-existing inequalities. Women are more likely to lose their jobs than men and many women in developing countries are self-employed. Women entrepreneurs are often discriminated against when attempting to access credit. Female-dominated sectors such as food, hospitality and tourism are expected to feel the harshest economic effects of the pandemic containment measures (5).

How you can help

It’s a sobering analysis, but the problems are not insurmountable. Practical, on-ground responses to help poorer countries will include aiding small enterprises to adapt their business models and strategies to cope in a post-COVID-19 market. This is exactly where Grow Movement can assist. Bear in mind some sage words from HH the Dalai Lama; “if you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room”. Help a small business today – make a donation or become a Grow Movement volunteer consultant.

Links & References

(1) The Overseas Development Institute ‘Financing the COVID-19 response in sub-Saharan Africa’ (23rd April 2020)
(2) UNCTAD ‘Africa needs a Marshall plan to ride out Covid-19 crisis; prepare for uncertain times’ (16th April 2020)
(3) UN Africa Renewal (15th April 2020)
(4) The Overseas Development Institute, ‘Why gender matters’ (17th April 2020)
(5) UNCTAD ‘COVID-19 requires gender-equal responses to save economies’ (1st April 2020)
Photo by Mohammad Fahim on Unsplash

 

7 May 2020

Zoe Lawson is a social entrepreneur with an interest in translating innovations for international development. She has a PhD in biological chemistry and an MBA, and has been involved with Grow Movement since 2015 as a volunteer consultant and supporter.

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Grow Movement featured in The Economist

Grow Movement and the Rapidly Changing World

Grow Movement and the Rapidly Changing World

By Zoe Lawson

As 2020 gets going and we enter a new decade, we’re becoming more aware than ever of the challenges facing humankind.

Recently, the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting was held in Davos, Switzerland, where the theme was ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’. Of the six key areas of priority for the future of the planet (Ecology, Economy, Technology, Society, Geopolitics and Industry), Grow Movement is well-placed to engage with at least four.

Society

‘Society’ stands out as being particularly relevant and pertinent. It specifically highlights the question of how to reskill and upskill a billion people in the next decade. In developing economies where formal and especially higher education is often not available to large parts of the population, Grow Movement’s work in matching volunteer business consultants with local small business owners and entrepreneurs, responds to this is a practical way.

The research study conducted in Uganda provided tangible proof that Grow Movement’s business model works. This method of ‘upskilling’ local people through the sharing of practical business knowledge has rapid and measurable results on societies. Entrepreneurs who worked with Grow Movement business consultants increased their monthly sales by 27%, and for those whose business lacked a strategy at the start of the project, monthly sales increased by 55%. Increased profits mean that local markets are developed, local economies are boosted, jobs are created and ultimately, societies are improved for all.

So, it’s clear that Grow Movement’s work will be needed more than ever as the 2020s progress.

Economy

What about ‘Economy’? Grow Movement contributes to ‘removing the long-term debt burden and keeping the economy working at a pace that allows higher inclusion’ by stimulating local economies. Our engagement with entrepreneurs leads to increased business generation, increased profits and new job creation.

Industry

‘Industry’ is another area of the WEF’s future focus that aligns with the work of Grow Movement. The WEF want to know ‘How to help business create the models necessary to drive enterprise in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. How to navigate an enterprise in a world exposed to political tensions and driven by exponential technological change as well as increasing expectations from all stakeholders’. For those of not familiar with the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, it refers to the current/forthcoming age of interconnected technological innovation (following on from the original industrial revolution of 1784, the second of mass production and the third of the digital age).

Although Grow Movement operates in developing nations, the digital divide is closing and demand for network technologies such as smartphones in such places is huge. Grow Movement business consultants can help local entrepreneurs learn about and leverage the power of these tools. A case study example of this is Chikondi Mthethe, a Ugandan entrepreneur who set up a local guesthouse. With the help of her Grow Movement mentor, she was able to develop her online business presence and market to an international audience using collaborative virtual platforms such as Air BnB. Within six months she was at full occupancy and digital booking platforms formed a key part of her customer acquisition strategy.

WEF Priorities

How does Grow Movement’s work align with the some of the other areas of priority identified by the WEF? We are all aware of how urgent the priority of ‘Ecology’ now is. The WEF wants to mobilise business to respond to the risks of climate change and this offers an opportunity for Grow Movement to contribute to positive change. But how exactly? By assisting small business owners located in the places most likely to feel the full force of the impending climate crisis, to create environmentally sustainable business models, and take account of relevant climate issues at inception.

We live in interesting times and the world is rapidly changing. Unless humans make a conscious effort to address the serious issues facing our planet, we risk an uncertain and possibly very bleak future. With collective action, individual efforts are amplified and together we can effect positive change. Grow Movement will take an active role in this; by upskilling motivated people in the most precarious parts of the world to start environmentally sustainable businesses, create jobs and stimulate their local economies.

Watch this space for more on Grow Movement’s work and objectives for 2020 and beyond.

 

21 February 2020

Zoe Lawson is a social entrepreneur with an interest in translating innovations for international development. She has a PhD in biological chemistry and an MBA, and has been involved with Grow Movement since 2015 as a volunteer consultant and supporter.

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Grow Movement featured in The Economist

Grow Movement featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review

Grow Movement featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review

Grow Movement in the Stanford Social Innovation Review

“Mentorship can be helpful, but different mentorship structures achieve different outcomes. Available evidence suggests that mentorship can help entrepreneurs change their practices and accelerate business growth. But not all mentorship programs are alike, and different types of mentors can affect entrepreneurs differently. A study in Uganda found that a program with international mentors made entrepreneurs more likely to significantly “pivot” their overall business strategy, while a study in Kenya showed that local mentors helped drive a 20 percent increase in firm profits during the mentorship period (although businesses did not sustain this growth beyond the mentorship period).”

Professor Anderson from Stanford Business School published an article regarding his research, which includes the Uganda Study. 

“Many experts believe one of the best ways to improve economic conditions in emerging markets is to help entrepreneurs — especially those running small businesses — grow.

The Uganda project was the beginning of my second research stream, which examines the role of product development. This initial study looks at business model innovation — also known as pivoting — and whether firms in emerging markets can shift how they create, deliver, and capture customer value. For the marketing intervention, we used a one-on-one remote coaching model that facilitated connections across markets. Through our partner, we recruited hundreds of professionals in advanced markets all over the world, about 40 different countries. The coach could be an MBA grad in New York, or someone working for Deloitte in London, or someone with valuable business experience who just wants to help others. The coaches Skyped with local entrepreneurs from around Kampala once a week or every other week for six months to help them come up with ways to shift the direction of their businesses. While there is inevitably some knowledge transfer, it is difficult to effectively train someone on the other side of the world via email, phone, and Skype. But that was OK. We were more interested in how to stimulate pivots (not business practices) and then measure their impact on firm sales. It was less about skills and more about changing product-related strategies.”

5 October 2019

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