Frequently Asked Questions

How is Grow Movement funded?

Grow is funded by the British Government, online charitable donations from Grow volunteer consultants and other charitable trusts.

How have you identified a need and a demand from businesses and individual in the developing world?

Grow Movement reviewed some of the best available research on International Development , consulted the professional expertise within the Grow team and had discussions with international NGOs, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and local businesses and charities in Uganda. Grow then conducted a pilot in 2009/10 with 10 businesses and volunteer consultants. We found that Grow was able to deliver effective business advice over the phone and internet.

How does Grow Movement source the entrepreneurs that it works with?

Our local Grow managers work hard to market Grow in-country. They work with local partners who may be either private enterprises or NGOs offering skills based training. These partners are crucial to the success of Grow, as they have incredible local market knowledge. All entrepreneurs, after submitting an application form, are interviewed by the Grow Managers to assess their suitability for the programme. In Uganda we work with Enterprise Uganda, in Rwanda with Educat and with the National Asscoiation of Business Women (NABW) in Malawi

How do you avoid the issues of corruption and judge the legitimacy of businesses?

Many of our business are referred to us by our local partners, so there are existing relationships and experience with the business. Every entrepreneur submits an application form and each one is reviewed and interviewed by the local Grow team. Grow Movement does not offer any financial assistance. As such, non-legitimate businesses have little incentive to apply. Although we interview every client, we do also rely on the Grow Consultants to raise any issues that they have with their entrepreneur to their in country Grow manager.

How do you judge the legitimacy of consultants given that you recruit them over the internet?

All Grow volunteer consultants compete an online application form, which we review to assess their suitability for the programme. We require Grow volunteer consultants to enter into a legal agreement with Grow volunteer consultants that restricts their interaction to the provision of advice. Every volunteer consultant is interviewed by our local Grow managers. Our entrepreneurs are advised to contact their local Grow manager if at any point they have concerns over their Grow volunteer consultant.

How does Grow’s work fit with the work that other charities are doing on the ground? Are we diverting support away from these organisation?

The work that Grow does is complementary and not competitive to other organisations. Grow Movement is a unique opportunity. It enables an entire sector of volunteers who were previously underutilised to offer their time to international development without leaving their professional positions or their home countries. We also aim, where relevant, to support and highlight the work of other charities on the ground. For example, when working with coffee drying business Empire Coffee Dryers, the Grow consultant researched opportunities for his business contact to source new technology through another charity on the ground. We realise that the work we do is not a total solution for the businesses we work with and we hope to create more synergies with other charities.

What sort of input are businesses looking for?

The advice businesses are looking for varies and we need people with all types of business skills. Businesses on application to Grow Movement request the type of advice that they need with the help of the local Grow Manager. Many of our entrepreneurs require general business skills. Consultants with a general business overview can add a lot of value. For example, a corporate lawyer in New York successfully improved a coffee dryer’s technique by leveraging his research skills, despite not having any coffee experience.

  • To learn from the Grow consultant’s specific skill set and apply it to their business, for example using financial modelling to help make an investment decision.

  • Sharing ideas about how they conduct business in the Grow consultant’s home country and think strategically

  • Helping the SME to analyse their strengths and weaknesses and review or develop business plans

  • Researching new business ideas or technologies and helping the SME to implement them. These could be technologies or practices already used in the SME’s country, but the SME might not be aware of them.

What’s in it for me as a consultant?

Grow provides people with a strong business background a convenient way of volunteering directly in international development, rather than having to make a larger commitment, such as a career break. It offers an opportunity to practice skills in  an unusual environment, often taking on the performance of a business as a whole rather than a specific part, as well as building CV experience for new and experienced consultants alike. Many consultants report the strong sense of satisfaction they gain from being able to apply the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired in a totally different business context, having seen profitability increase and jobs created.

How will my skills be matched to the business?

Depending on the size and challenges of the business, entrepreneurs often seeking general business advice, which our consultants are qualified to provide. Some cases will be more specialised and, a volunteer consultant with the appropriate skills will be assigned.

How can I really provide useful advice when I’m not there in person and I’m not familiar with the local environment?
Collaboration is key to the success of all projects. We recommend that all consultants spend a period of 3-5 weeks getting to know the business and environment. After that time, you should work closely with your entrepreneur and other GROW consultants to discuss what will work best in their market. The experience and advice that you are able to provide is always valuable; the key is working together to understand how best to apply it to this specific situation. You will find that the businesses are generally very good at knowing what will and won’t work in the local context. Grow consultants are experts in the business world and our entrepreneurs are experts in their country.
How much time do I need to dedicate to Grow per week?
Each call should last approximately one hour to one hour and a half. Outside of this, an additional 2 hours of work is normally necessary to prepare for the call, complete work that you plan to discuss with your contact or respond to emails.
Will it be difficult to communicate with my contact?
At times, yes. We recommend that you call your contact on their mobile as they are more commonly used in Africa and often contacts will not have access to a landline. You may experience problems with the network connection caused by bad weather or the business owner being in an area of poor reception. We have found these can be addressed by rescheduling calls to another time. By persevering and using a combination of phone and email, volunteer consultants have generally overcome these difficulties. We do not recommend you conduct sessions purely by email at the start, as this makes it harder to build a relationship with the businesses. You should be aware that there is often a delay in connection when talking but this is something that you quickly learn to adapt to and shouldn’t affect the ease of conversation overall.
Accents and local slang can be issue. This evolves with time. However it is important to always sense check if your entrepreneur has understood your terminology, as often they are too polite to say otherwise.
How much reliance do the businesses place on the advice they are given?
It always takes a bit of time to build up trust and a relationship with your business contact. Entrepreneurs generally increase their trust and reliance on are given increases with time. However, it should always be made clear to the business contact that any decisions they make are theirs, and you are purely presenting them with a series of options that depend on the accuracy of the information they have given you.
How do I structure the calls?
Running a call should be very similar to the way you would manage a meeting with a client or business contact. You should work together to decide what you want to get out of the next discussion in line with the overall direction of the project and set the agenda accordingly. For the initial calls, we suggest that you use traditional business analysis tools, such as SWOT and PEST, to gain an overall understanding of the business and landscape.
How do we set the objective of the project? How do we know what we’re working towards?
Your business contact will have a basic idea of what he/she is looking to achieve from the calls and what problems their business is facing. However, some entrepreneurs are very new to the experience of consultancy. You may need to explain the kind of service that is being offered, even though this has been explained to them already. We then recommend that the first 1 to 3 calls are spent getting to know the business better, their challenges and aims. Together, you should then set and agree on the objective ofthe project by the end of stage 1 and continually chart your progress against this as you go forward. As you begin to understand the business more you may need to modify the objective.
What happens after the 12 sessions end and how do I know that the advice I’ve given has made an impact or has been implemented?
After your 12 sessions are completed, we will collect feedback from you and your business that we may publish on our website. You are welcome to continue with a second Grow assignment with your business or to stay in touch with your existing client to see how things are progressing, providing assistance where required. We find that many of our volunteers do this. After 6 months post completion, our in-country Grow manager will carry out an impact assessment to see the impact that Grow advice has had on their skills, profitability and job creation. After 6 months you will receive an email from Grow Movement informing you of the impact of your work
Do I have the option to do any ‘on the ground’ consultancy work ?
Grow focuses entirely on remote based consultancy. However, consultants are always  welcome at our offices in country to meet the team and to travel to see their client.

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