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Dubai Consultant talks about debt, honesty and loan sharks

Dubai Consultant talks about debt, honesty and loan sharks

Dubai Consultant talks about debt, honesty and loan sharks

Volunteering with Grow Movement throws challenges at even the most talented and experienced of consultants. Zeynep Saka from Dubai talks about the challenges of honesty in cross cultural communication in difficult business times. An incredible result from her sheer drive and determination to support Robert a retailer in Uganda.

Entering into a reality with constant suspense Robert is a veterinary by education and has opened his shop in February 2015 to sell agrochemicals to farmers in Gayaza area with the money he saved from working as an extension worker for 3 years and the long-term loan he took from a bank, or so he had said…

He doesn’t own a computer nor knows how to operate one. He didn’t have an email address or a Skype account up until July 23. Even if he goes to the internet café in Gayaza, there’s no Skype on their computers so the only way we can have lengthy sessions are with the help of Stella, our client manager, using her Skype account on her computer. The one technology he has is the whatsapp on his phone, through which we are able to keep in contact regularly.

When I asked Robert about his goal during our first session, he said he wanted to become “the one” who gives the best agrochemical input to the farmers in the Central Uganda Region. About 3 weeks, 3 sessions and many whatsapp conversations into our working together for finding ways of making Robert’s business more profitable, Robert’s debt problem became the main topic. All of a sudden his loan from the bank was no longer long term and his business was to be taken over by the bank if he didn’t pay the debt of about $200 on time, or so he had said…

As I came up with suggestions on how he could solve his issues with the bank, Robert was reluctant to consider them, and more fixated on asking my help to rescue him from the situation by sending him the money. He was not able to provide any official documents on his debt, so I called the bank to inquire about Robert’s situation and support him by introducing myself as his business consultant, but they couldn’t find Robert’s account…

The truth came soon after: Robert did not have a bank account; he had borrowed the money from a loan shark; he was 3 months late on his payment, he owed in total $500, he had his shop and the motorcycle he co-owned with his brother under collateral, the loan shark was threatening him with taking over everything from him unless he paid his debt in full.

Robert had been ashamed to admit before that his borrowings were from a loan shark and that he had failed. He apologized and again asked for my help. I was disappointed, worried, upset, angry, scared, mistrustful and confused on what was the right thing to do.

After consulting Stella, Claire, Himanshu and other consultants from Grow Movement, I decided I was not going to give him any money, but I was definitely going to stick around and continue with my utmost support to Robert to save him from the situation because I was not going to judge his reality as per the rules of mine.

Finally we did manage to find a way to pay off Robert’s debt and rescue his business from the loan shark. It took two weeks of constant coaching on negotiation, thinking outside of the box to sell 50% of his stock, by just being there for him. We are now passed our 9th session and looking into ways of restarting his business. Robert says, in Uganda if someone does something extraordinary for you, you give him or her a rooster as a sign of appreciation; so he wants to give me 10 very big roosters…

16th May 2018

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We are Champions! Grow wins awards at Third Sector Excellency!

We are Champions! Grow wins awards at Third Sector Excellency!

We are Champions! Grow wins awards at Third Sector Excellency!

Grow is thrilled to announce winning ‘Volunteer Manager of the Year,’ and being highly commended in two other categories, ‘Volunteer of the Year’ and ‘Small Charity Big Impact’ in the Third Sector Excellency Awards London.

Grow was honoured to be selected for its volunteer management over much larger charities including Air Ambulance, and Age UK; demonstrating that you don’t need large budgets to take care  and thank your volunteers.

Mark Neild, Claire Jenkins and Jeremy Roebuck

Mark Neild, Claire Jenkins and Jeremy Roebuck

As a Charity that is focused on operations and outcomes it is a difficult decision to invest time in writing applications when those hours could be spent elsewhere. Fortunately Grow has a great group of writers who were only too keen to get involved, and what a great job they did! Three categories and achieved in each one!

CEO Claire Jenkins says “I was immensely happy and proud to receive this award on behalf of my volunteers and operations team. We work hard to look after our volunteers across 65 countries! When I first started at Grow Movement I bought a book on how to run a charity, as this is what we do in my family when we have a knowledge gap, …straight to Waterstones! The second chapter was on Donor Management. ‘Always look after your donors!’ I thought, easy, I only have 3. I then turned the page to read ‘Most charities forget that their biggest donor is their volunteers, so make sure you look after them’. I have never forgotten this and remember always that I could not achieve our impact without the dedication of our volunteers and my operations staff that look after them’.

“Going forwards we want to have our volunteering experience and impact recognised and awarded within the business community. We have more applications coming out, watch this space!

Friday, 2 October 2015

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Laura Mooney

Laura Mooney

Laura Mooney

Laura Mooney based in the USA is a senior marketing executive specializing in business-to-business marketing of software and services for growth companies. With 20+ years of experience in the software industry, and an MBA from a top-25 business school she decided to take on a real challenge and join the Grow Movement #Uganda600 team. Here is her story to date!

Zuman to Growth!
Zuman Traders is a hardware store in Kampala, Uganda, run by Yusuf Manshur and his wife, Zubeda. They also have a small construction business which keeps Yusuf busy full-time, leaving Zubeda to run the store and work with Grow. Two months into Grow Movement’s Uganda600 project, we’ve had six sessions by phone and Skype. The primary goals we’d like to achieve as a result of the Grow project are a 20% increase in retail sales and the addition of one new reliable supplier.
The biggest challenges to progress so far have been lack of technology, lack of resources and the early stage of the retail business. On the technology front, they do not own a computer, do not use email and mobile phone connections are often poor, making communications difficult. The challenge with lack of resources to invest in marketing is somewhat driven the stage of the business. The hardware store is currently housed in a temporary structure. They are working through the Uganda permitting process to get the approvals needed to construct a permanent building, which will be much larger and hold more inventory. The permit process is slow, and they do not anticipate being able to start construction until early 2016. Unfortunately, they do not want spend money on marketing activities that would be critical to attracting new customers (such as the production of a storefront sign or an ad placement), because the money needs to go toward the permanent building. This will impact how quickly they can grow in the near-term.

Zubeda Manshur Uganda600 client
On the positive side, they have no debt and the business is generating enough profit each month to keep them going and support their growing family (Zubeda will be giving birth to their third child in October!). We have been able to start a client outreach program for upselling and implement a scaled pricing model that encourages larger volume purchases. I have also encouraged her to research and join local trade associations related to construction and furniture making, in order to meet potential clients and suppliers and get the word out about their business.
Zubeda is engaging actively in our discussions and logging the recommendations I offer into her business journal. She has stated that while she may not have the time or money to implement all of the ideas right now, she wants to log them and work on them over time as they continue to grow the business.

Friday, 2 October 2015

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HULT MBA Alumni talks about sharing business skills

HULT MBA Alumni talks about sharing business skills

HULT MBA Alumni talks about sharing business skills

Jackie Ngu runs a family business here in London supplying healthcare professionals to the NHS. A Hult MBA Alumni she talks about the challenges of volunteering by skype and mobile as part of our #Uganda600 programme.

The Experience
When I first received the details about attending an event at Hult International Business School, called Grow movement, I didn’t need convincing. I have always donated to charities but never felt like I was actually making a difference as you never knew really where your donation was going. Unfortunately I was not even able to attend the event as I had to do a presentation, but as I said before, this was not necessary. I just knew that it would be a privilege for me to be given the chance to empower African entrepreneurs not just waiting to get handouts but wanting to be able to provide for their family.

My client
I think I have been very lucky with my client. Gorreti is hardworking with 2 shops selling a range of items from electrical to stationary items. She is always willing to try out new ideas and we have very good discussions about the way forward. She knows exactly where she needs help and where she wants her business to go. I am hoping I can work with her to make a positive difference.

Challenges
Our one and only main challenge has been getting Gorreti connected onto the internet. This is not something she had done before and very difficult to assist someone with this over the phone, when you are not sure what they can see. We are getting there as she has been able to open my email and also the attachment. Just need her to be able to send me an email. That will be the next challenge. Going forwards it would be great for Grow Movement to supply more basic IT skills to entrepreneurs before they start the programme as it can be difficult to consult entirely by Skype.

Friday, 2 October 2015

16th May 2018

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Regents University Alumni in Japan #skyping with Uganda

Regents University Alumni in Japan #skyping with Uganda

Regents University Alumni in Japan #skyping with Uganda

Tafadzwa Chakaodza a graduate from Regents University now working in Japana first joined Grow a year ago volunteering with our Malawi teams. Here he talks about his experience as a #Uganda600 consultant.

My Uganda 600 client is Ronald Irumba-Juro, the very proud owner of a unisex hair salon in Mutongo. The salon mainly offers services like women’s perm re-touches, braiding and dreadlocks with the dreadlocks being the main service he is known for. The business being in the low cost tier segment of the market, serves about 5-10 customers on average a day with the target clientele being women aged 30 and 50 with the children’s segment both girls and boys being small but growing. With about 3 part time employees, space restrictions have led to a suspension of the provision of male services as the business hopes to move into a larger location within 6-12 months. Ronald went into business after the local salon he worked for closed down and he needed to provide for his family.

We communicate for meetings over Skype but at times when internet connections fails, which is more often than not, we continue on Whatsapp on his phone or over email. Sometimes he uses a laptop he has or we Skype at his work place. With a time difference of 6 hours we usually communicate during Uganda day time and Japan after 10 or 11pm.
We have had 5 sessions to date with about 4 sessions have been held back at this point due to Ronald’s unforeseen circumstances including the loss of a family member, family illness and a burglary that happened at his residence leading to many gadgets having been stolen. Throughout all of this, Ronald has remained steadfast and keen to follow through with the process.

Some of the problems identified include high and fluctuating rentals from his landlord, electricity supply shortages having no generator, knowledge of proper income and expenditure, cash flow and financial budgeting systems, employee labour turnover and remuneration issues as well as marketing strategy. I have given him homework to gather financial records however they are kept, competitor services analyses within his area as well a look into pricing structures which he did well and came back with great insights. We continue to work to make the business thrive as we go on.

Friday, 2 October 2015

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