Adam Dickens Photography 2015 – GROW Malawi – Yunos Kamba
Over the last few months, a number of consultants from the Young MCA have volunteered their spare time to work with the charity Grow Movement. They have taken to the web and contributed their skills to help the economic empowerment of people in the poorest countries on earth. We spoke to Matt Crawford from Atkins and Suzy Murray and Sharlin Elahi, both from EY, who are just a few of the Young MCA members who have volunteered to date.
What is Grow Movement?
Matt: Grow Movement is an Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) working to partner small entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Uganda with volunteer consultants from around the world in order to create a positive social impact and help small businesses grow.
Can you tell us a bit about the work you are doing as a volunteer?
Matt: I am helping my client Stephen with his retail shop that stocks a variety of everyday essential products in Uganda. We have been working to develop a financial model that he can use to support decision making, and also build a plan to help him to continue to expand the business.
Suzy: I am working with a Ugandan man who owns a small clothing store. Initially we are focusing on investing his profits to grow the company while simultaneously improving stock control and purchasing.
Sharlin: I am currently working with Irene, who owns her own hair salon in Uganda. It was clear from the first conversation that goal planning would benefit her company greatly. Interestingly, she put forward the suggestion that a change of location would increase the amount of customers the store could attract, and was already thinking about applying for a bank loan to fund the move.
What has been the most rewarding part of your work to date?
Suzy: It has been very rewarding to build a relationship with my counterpart in Uganda. He has been very grateful for my help to date.
What have you found the most challenging over past few months?
Matt: It has been challenging at times to be certain that my client understands and is satisfied with our progress, compared to England where my clients are more forthright.
What are the benefits for the business you are working with?
Sharlin: Most of my business partner’s ideas and aspirations are in her head. Uganda does not have a collaborative/consultancy culture like the UK and as such she has rarely had the opportunity to bounce thoughts and ideas off people or had anyone asking probing questions about her business. Our partnership has given her the opportunity to further develop and refine her business plans.
How has volunteering with Grow Movement helped your personal development?
Suzy: Volunteering with Grow Movement has been a great opportunity to work with start-ups and build experience around running a small business while also having the personal benefit of contributing to society.
Matt: It’s a truly unique experience and has been very well received by my company. I am currently applying for an MBA with a view to specialising in international development consulting, so this experience has been invaluable to reflect on and demonstrate my capability.