Management consultants are using their spare time to take to the web and contribute their skills to help the economic empowerment of people in the poorest countries on earth.
A team of volunteer consultants from over 50 countries are contributing their skills to relieving poverty as part of Grow Movement. Using Skype and phone calls, virtual consultants work with micro entrepreneurs in Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi; transferring skills to increase their business tool kit. To date they have created over 430 jobs creating a hugely positive impact on the employees and families of over 4,000 people.
Volunteering with Grow Movement not only enhances a consultant’s CV, it also polishes their intercultural communication and leadership skills, and offers an opportunity to give back in a very unusual way. Grow Movement entrepreneurs work in challenging environments often lacking the key business skills of finance, strategy and marketing. Business plans, formal accounts and reports are also unlikely to be found in these environments. Working across service, manufacturing and agricultural sectors you could be consulting with anything from a chicken farm to a football school to a health care centre.
Many of the entrepreneurs have no frame of reference for how consultancy can help them. Often they can feel overwhelmed and out of their depth. Grow Movement require management consultants that can flex out of ‘consultanese’ and encourage and motivate according to the skill set of their entrepreneur. If you are looking for a challenging and unique way of volunteering that does not require you to hop on a plane and you can commit to 12 consultancy sessions across a 6 month period then this is ideal.
Isaac Mugabe, a 38 year old entrepreneur from Kampala, Uganda, was running a small design business printing logos onto t shirts, caps and umbrellas. He had a vision for a larger company offering a wider range of products to a wider audience across Uganda. Yet his business was about to close due to a lack of customers. Grow Movement matched him with Ray Belanger, a management consultant from Canada with a background in finance. Together over Skype and Google docs they worked on his financial management, what his fixed and variable costs were and how many customers he needed to make this back. Isaac had wanted big flash offices in the centre of Kampala to attract customers but he quickly realised that this made little financial sense and opted for smaller offices in the centre with a design studio on the outskirts of town. He now employs 7 additional people as drivers, sales and operations and has increased his profits by 50%. He says’ I feel like myself and my company have been reborn’. Isaac has continued his entrepreneurial spirit and has set up a village savings and loan scheme to offer cash flow loans to other small business owners in the area at 10% as compared to local banks at 40%.
Just a 36 hour time investment across 6 months can create 3 jobs in Africa. Grow Movement, a UK registered charity is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Bull Dog Trust, the Genesis Charitable Trust and online donations from volunteers. They are focused on being a low cost organisation that believes in continuous improvement.
If you are interested in becoming a virtual consultant please visit or link directly to Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org / 00447561306277
Watch Chris Coghlan, founder of Grow Movement, speak at the TEDx London Business School 2012 & Hans Weasman a volunteer talking about Skyping with a school in Malawi below: