by Kateeba | Dec 7, 2018 | Malawi
Amos started working at Utex Signs and Systems, a Malawi based sign and screen printing business run by his brother in 2007. His brother sadly passed away in 2013, at which time Amos was inspired to take over management of the struggling business, in the hope that he could make it profitable.
Based in Toronto, Canada, Abhinav is an engineer with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in computer engineering. Alongside these courses, he also studied many entrepreneurship and leadership courses. Abhinav heard about Grow Movement through his sister who is an alumna at London Business School, and was inspired to come on board as a volunteer consultant. A Grow Movement veteran, Abhinav has now finished working with his third entrepreneur from Malawi, and looking towards his fourth!
Amos was finding it difficult to fund the business, which was ‘in tatters’ when he took over. He did not have any experience in financial management or bookkeeping, and though he was aware of how much money the business was making, was unsure of its profit margins. Amos was also looking to improve the customer service and marketing aspects of his business, as he did not have any previous experience in these areas, and while he has successful contracts with some large businesses, wasn’t sure how to sell his products and services on a smaller scale.
Working with Abhinav, Amos increased the profitability of Utex Signs and Systems by 15%, and hired a new member of staff in a customer service role. Together Amos and Abhinav figured out which areas were bleeding the business financially, causing profits to decline. By making changes such as sourcing raw materials in bulk from a different supplier, they were able to save a significant amount of money. With Abhinav’s guidance Amos was also able to improve his customer care, reaching out to past clients and building lasting relationships in order to win further work. This was a major contributing factor to the growth of his business.
The Impact on Amos
“My mentor helped me in how to keep records, how to plan with business finances and how to take good care of my customers. I know that my business has reached this stage because of Grow Movement.”
The Impact on Abhinav
“I’ve seen my evolution as a mentor over my last three projects with Grow Movement. It’s been great to learn more about Malawi as a country, and to see how entrepreneurs like Amos are working with relatively few resources but still doing so well.”
by Kateeba | Dec 7, 2018 | Uncategorized
Mustapher 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.
Shelly is a Chartered Global Management Accountant with 15 years’ experience across a range of areas including education, insurance, and property management and has held CFO roles. A Jamaican living in London, 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.
The aim of the project was to improve the profitability of the DVD sales operations. Analysis of basic financial information on costs and revenues made clear that costs were high, profitability was low and that sales commissions were a very high percentage of sales. Delivery costs were also very high and were a significant percentage of sales. After researching sales commissions for similar businesses they discovered that Mustapher was paying up to three times more in some cases.
Working with Shelly, Mustapher implemented a new commissions structure that was more than 50% lower than what he was paying before. He introduced a tiered incentive system to increase commissions based on increased volume of sales. He investigated new delivery options and negotiated discounts with couriers based on volumes, which led to more than a 50% reduction in delivery costs. Profitability rose 40% and he took on three new information technology specialist workers. All are specialist in Information Technology System. A new model was suggested for recruiting sales people nearer to the target market and locations, which would significantly increase sales. The changes led to a reduction in costs and increase in profitability, DVD sales also grew with the increase in the number of sales people.
The Impact on Mustapher
“My business skills have improved as a result of working with Shelly as have my time management skills and my techniques in customer relations and ensuring I follow up enquiries. I can now market my products and services online. Finally I have learned how to separate my personal money from the company money. This year we are expanding to home based business consultancy or network marketing or direct selling industry consultancy here in Africa.”
The Impact on Shelly
“Grow Movement gave me an opportunity to have experience of providing business advice in a completely new business context, culture and country. This enhanced my overall breadth of business and consulting experience. Grow allowed me to do some volunteer activity where I can give back to society in some way, 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.”
by Kateeba | Nov 7, 2018 | Agriculture, Malawi, Retail
Widowed in 2008 with four children, Naomi runs the local grocery shop as well as having just started a piggery selling pigs to the local butchers. She also ran a bakery selling bread to the local community and a maize flour business from her home. Previously she was a primary teacher. She has been on the board of National Association of Business Women since 2011.
An American living in Berlin, Germany, Allison is co-founder and CFO at https://g1obals.org. She did her bachelor in political science and business at Texas A&M University then started her professional life in project management in non-profits in Germany. She did an MBA at the Rotterdam School of Management in The Netherlands then worked in finance for Proctor and Gamble in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Alison and Naomi focused on standard retail businesses issues including competition, pricing and cash management, and some specific to the Malawian environment including currency volatility. With Alison’s experience in consumer goods and finance, they focused on topics such as building financial statements, writing a business plan, managing inventory, and even developing marketing and promotion strategies. It was apparent that Naomi’s shop had great potential as a residential hub for buying food products. One of their first assessments was to look at her inventory and analyse the profitability of each product. From there, a plan was made to promote, keep, or let go of certain products in her inventory. They also determined, through talking to customers, what products were in demand but not yet available at her shop.
Profits have increased by 30% and Naomi has been able to employ a new sales assistant. She plans to use the profits from the shop and her new piggery business to build her own house.
The Impact on Naomi
“At first I didn’t want a teacher, I knew the business I was buying, I had been to school. But Sophie the Grow Manager insisted. At first I thought my consultant might give me money, but Allison was clear that she was not going to give me money, she was going to give me skills to grow. I now know which of my products are selling the quickest. Allison pushed me a lot. I was just buying and selling, I wasn’t recording anything. I didn’t count anything. She taught me to count everything. Allison has empowered me, encouraged me, she helped me go further.”
The Impact on Allison
“I felt deeply honored to work with Naomi. It takes great courage for anyone to start a business in a challenging economic environment, and I am inspired by Naomi’s passion, friendliness, and open-mindedness. Consulting Naomi enabled me to be creative and comprehensive not only in thinking about her business, but also applying it back to my daily business activities. With just a few calls and emails, I could help someone grow their business and even create a new job in a country I knew nothing about for a person I had never seen. Brilliant!”
by Kateeba | Nov 7, 2018 | Rwanda, Technology
Jean-Claude has studied IT to a postgraduate level, after being awarded a bursary for academic excellence during his degree, and it was during these studies that he first began thinking about starting his own business. He was working for an IT support company while studying, and at first he concentrated on offering a similar service to them, opening TNT Computer Consulting in Dec 2012. However the experience of working with different clients made him realise how many students were leaving schools and university without any IT skills, and he had the idea to diversify into training. He had very little resources when he started, and found that one of the biggest challenges was convincing people that despite his lack of office space and computers he was still qualified.
Rajel is a macroeconomist and Chartered Financial Analyst. He decided to volunteer for Grow Movement because he had worked and in East Africa, and lived in Tanzania, he was interested by the prospect of working with entrepreneurs from the region.
Jean-Claude and Rajel worked together on strengthening the core business of IT consulting, and on launching the training side of the business. The first issue they worked on was cashflow and categorisation of banking accounts. Jean-Claude was especially keen to pay taxes and operate a lawful operation, his commitment meant that they began to resolve this issue quickly, and they soon moved on to marketing the business. Rajel helped Jean-Claude identify the other businesses that might need IT support, and the fact that his French-language skills helped set him apart from competitors. They also worked on a marketing plan for the training side of business, and Rajel suggested building relationships with schools, universities and IT suppliers, as well as advertising on the radio.
Jean-Claude is now paying taxes, his revenue was increased by 60% and he took on two members of staff. He has been able to develop the training side of his business in particular. Within a month of working on a marketing plan with Rajel he was interviewed on the radio, he was organizing prize giveaways, and offering scholarships. TNT is now thriving, and he has so many word-of-mouth recommendations that he no longer has to advertise. He hopes to open a training center in every country in East Africa
The Impact on Jean-Claude
“My proudest moment was running for the EDUCAT competition. Rajel taught me how connect with people, gave me confidence to talk about my company in front of people and show them what I’m able to achieve.”
The Impact on Rajel
“I gained a friend from the experience, and I am still in touch with Jean-Claude. I also learned about aspects of the tech sector, and I would like to visit the area again to explore this sector in Rwanda further as it is ahead of other countries in the region. I would definitely recommend the experience to others, in fact I already have recommended it to colleagues!”
by Kateeba | Nov 7, 2018 | Malawi, Services
Tiwonge Chirambo, 37, is employed by Nellie Kalizang’oma, a Grow Movement client who was mentored by Yogita Floridia from India.
After completing High School in 1998, Tiwonge got married in 1999 and has four children who are 16, 11 and twins who are 7 years old. The first born is doing her Junior Certificate while the last three are still at primary school.
When her husband passed away in 2011, Tiwonge realised that she has the responsibility of looking after the four children alone.
After some time the same year 2011, Tiwonge thought of starting a small business of selling sweets and biscuits at her house but it did not work. It was not possible for her to feed four children with sales realised from sweets. She searched for a job for nine months.
Fortunately, in 2012 Tiwonge was employed as a salesperson by Fishworld Fresh Foods, a company owned by Nellie Kalizang’oma. She sells fish, vegetables and eggs for the company from 7.30am to 5pm every day apart from Sunday. From that time, Tiwonge was able to fend for her family. With the salary she is getting, she is able to feed her four children, clothe them, pay for their school fees, uniform, exercise books, etc. She also buys necessities for her mother at home.
The Impact on Tiwonge
“It was painful and I used to cry everyday without knowing what to do. My neighbours were laughing at me that I will sell my house and go home because I would not manage to look after the children in town”