Grow Movement was set up in 2009 by Chris Coghlan. He felt compelled to assist those living in the developing world after studying the Rwandan genocide at university and witnessing extreme levels of human suffering when volunteering in Mozambique in 1999, the DR Congo in 2006 and Rwanda in 2008. Chris felt frustrated by current methods to tackle developing world poverty, both in their lack of effectiveness and the ethical compromises that occurred.
From his experience building effective cross cultural relationships as well as nine years working in global finance, Chris believed that a new approach was possible and Grow Movement was born. What started as a discussion between Chris and the now board of trustees has grown from an initial trial of 10 management consultant friends working over Skype to Ugandan entrepreneurs, to a UK registered charity in 2010, to expansion into Rwanda and Malawi in 2012 working with over 400 micro, small and medium entrepreneurs per year. We are grateful to all of our volunteers, entrepreneurs, funders and supporters who have enabled this to happen.
To empower African entrepreneurs with business skills in the least developed countries of the world; increase their profitability and create jobs through knowledge transfer over Skype, phone and email.
What they do
Grow Movement works with volunteer business consultants from around the world to transform the lives of people in Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi. By Skype, phone and email they empower African entrepreneurs with business skills, enabling them to run their organisations more effectively, increase profitability and create jobs in their communities. Their volunteers are global business professionals with skills in marketing, finance, strategy and business development who offer their 12 consultancy sessions for free. They remain in their own country enabling Grow Movement to operate at a very low cost.
Why they do it
Micro, small and medium businesses represent the backbone of local economies in most developing countries. They are vehicles for accelerating economic growth, generating employment, foreign exchange and tax revenues. In Uganda alone, they contribute 75% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, these small enterprises face unique challenges which limit their full potential to contribute to their country’s economy. Most businesses work without proper planning, have poor accounting and financial records, limited customer care, no strategy for costing and pricing their services/ products and work with a short term outlook and vision.
By connecting volunteer consultants with entrepreneurs, they can accelerate the economic performance of these businesses by plugging these knowledge gaps. Over Skype, phone and email, solutions can be found by sharing the business expertise of their volunteer consultants with the local knowledge of their entrepreneurs. Grow Movement aims to balance out the life lottery that has prevented their entrepreneurs from being able to access the right skills training to be able to run their businesses as effectively as possible.
How they do it
They work with local partners in each operational country to identify micro, small and medium entrepreneurs that require additional business support. Each entrepreneur is interviewed face to face by a local Grow manager, who seeks to understand their business and any skills gaps. Once accepted onto the programme, the entrepreneur’s knowledge gap is matched with the key strengths of one of our volunteer consultants. Each volunteer consultant undergoes a similar process, where they are interviewed by the local Grow manager and their areas of expertise are identified.
Once matched, the Grow consultant and entrepreneur meet for 12 sessions over a 3 to 6 month period, connecting over Skype or phone. The pair identify key issues that could be limiting the entrepreneur’s business. The first 3 sessions are spent getting to know the business and the entrepreneur; together they identify a key objective that will improve the business. During the remaining 9 sessions, they ensure that this key objective is delivered. During this process, Grow managers support both the Grow consultant and the entrepreneur, ensuring the project stays on track. 6 months after the end of the project, Grow managers revisit the entrepreneur to review what impact Grow Movement has had on business skills, profitability and job creation.
How they do it…at ultra- low cost
Grow Movement operates on an ultra-low cost basis. They only employ local staff in country and do not send expat development professionals overseas. All of their Grow volunteer consultants work with their entrepreneurs over Skype, phone and email without having to leave their country. Their in-country teams travel by local transport, further encouraging local employment. The London-based Grow team operates from donated office space in Central London with pro bono work in the fields of accountancy, HR and legal services carried out by their Board of Trustees.