We work in a region that has known war, instability, poverty and high dependency on foreign aid for several decades. In order to see these communities break the circle of poverty and see a sustainable breakthrough, one key element is to help locals to become entrepreneurs and start their own micro-businesses. Rather than the traditional humanitarian approach, where people are seen as needy recipients of external help, this approach acknowledges them as able and resourceful man and woman. Our role is to help them see and unleash their potential.
Our project focuses on people who are unemployed but have the potential to become entrepreneurs. Before taking them on our training, we assess their motivation and ability to follow through, since starting a business is a long and tedious project. We then go on and give the students a three-month training on all the basics needed to start and manage a small business. The training is highly practical: for every day spent in the classroom, the students spend four days applying their newly gained knowledge in the local bazar. While in the classroom they learn about how to identify a business idea, do market research, fundraising etc, they then have to actually go out and do these steps themselves. At the end of the training, each student has a researched business idea with a sound business plan. The students then start their businesses and we coach them for twelve months until their businesses have become sustainable.
Our goal is to train 200 entrepreneurs per year. We focus on two distinct target groups: firstly, unemployed college graduates. The advantage of this rather educated target group is that they are likely to start slightly bigger businesses that can over time grow to five to twenty employees, therefore helping multiple families to break out of financial poverty. Secondly, we’ll focus on less educated, poorer neighborhoods. While those beneficiaries are less likely to start businesses that will employ more than two to five people, we will be directly influencing some of the poorest communities of our region.