Business Team is keeping busy…

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Hello all!

Since arriving, the business team has been working hard to mentor and assist the youth (16+) with their existing businesses and business ideas. We set out to do five workshops that would guide the youth to think critically about how they will start a business. By the end of the five workshops, we are hoping that all of the youth have a business idea and understand how they will proceed with their ideas. Below is a recap of the workshops conducted thus far.

Workshop 1: Our first workshop was based around the youth’s interests. We started with an icebreaker, created by Kirsty Nicole, that created a relaxed environment  where everyone was relaxed and ready to participate. After the icebreaker, we took the youth through exercises where they were able to identify their values, strengths and their personal mission statement. This workshop was designed to get the juices flowing and make sure that the youth first understood themselves so they could tailor their business to their strengths. This workshop went well but we ended up changing the format of the rest of the workshops based on what we had learned during the first one. In this workshop, there was a lot of writing and more time in small groups. Also, because most of the youth speak English fairly well, we did the whole workshop in English based on this assumption. For following workshops, we ended up using a collective group discussion format for the general ideas and smaller groups with older youth translating to supplement the larger discussion.

Workshop 2: In workshop 2, we started to talk about the basics of a business and understanding the role of business in the community. We asked the youth what businesses they knew, how they were started and why they were started. We emphasized that businesses fill needs in the community. The youth filled out a worksheet that identified needs in the community and, in small groups, they were able to identify the businesses that solved those needs or that could potentially solve those needs. Lastly, we took the youth through a role play where Deron and Ben taught them about the importance of using a network. Deron pretended that he wanted to start a shoe business and the youth had to come up with people that Deron should speak to in order to learn more about starting a shoe business. After that, in small groups, the youth filled out their worksheets specifying which people they could speak to in order to learn about the businesses they were interested in specifically.

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Workshop 3: In workshop 3, the youth started to hone in on their business ideas and we took them through a business plan. From this workshop, we also learned that heavy rain, a tin roof and a business workshop do not go together! The rain was so loud that it was very difficult to have a large group discussion. After yelling (literally) for the first few questions in the large group discussion, the team decided to facilitate the rest of the workshop in small groups. Luckily, we had a lot of older youth that were instrumental in taking the younger youth through their business plan. After this workshop, we had some great business ideas including beauty shops, shoe making, bakeries and selling art.

Workshop 4: Workshop 4 was our best workshop yet and the business team was not involved at all! We had planned to take the youth through a workshop that emphasized the importance of record keeping and then take them through some record keeping word problems. At the beginning of the workshop, Fatuma, a guest speaker from a company that works with youth and micro-loans, spoke to the youth. We thought the speech would last only 5 minutes but she was absolutely captivating and her speech elicited many questions from the youth. After about 30 minutes, we realized that the youth were so engaged that we would scratch our workshop and just let the conversation continue.

We pushed our record keeping workshop to tonight at 7:30 pm and we will have one more workshop tomorrow night where the youth will fill out and present their business pitch.

In addition to our workshops, the business team has been involved in other projects as well. Kirsty Nicole, responsible for ice breakers during workshops, has been leading dance lessons for the younger kids at the center. Ben and Deron, facilitators for workshops, have been working with the older youth who have already started businesses and giving recommendations on how to expand those businesses. Alex, facilitator for workshops, has been working on implementing good record keeping practices among the youth working with dairy and in the shamba. Vanessa, business team leader, has been working specifically with the young women in the CBO and making sure that their voices are heard.

Hopefully the last few workshops are a success and the youth come out with concrete business plans and understand the steps they need to take in order to make those businesses work!

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