Creating opportunities through supporting entrepreneurship & partnerships

On the 24th of January 2017, the Global Opportunity Report was released by DNV-GL and Sustainia in Oslo with much fanfare — and rightly so. For its about Sustainable Development and how a number of risks can be business opportunities — emphasizing the role of businesses and capitalistic solutions in reaching sustainable development goals by the year 2030.

I was not there — I followed it sitting in my office in Bergen through Live Streaming! YES. I was listening, communicating, commenting and, of course, working (yes). Just sitting at my desk I was in company of so many people far away and had exchange of thoughts with a wide variety of people sitting at far away places! I didn’t have to go through the hassle of planning a trip, booking air tickets, flying out, finding a place to stay and coming back. Saved time, money and carbon emissions I suppose!

Isn’t technology amazing!

The basic premise is that there are many business opportunities around sustainable development goals — opportunities running into billions of dollars. There are many risks if we do not set on the path of sustainable development and it is quite in these risks that business opportunities lie.
This is certainly a call to big businesses who have a larger footprint percolating across many regions and also have the means to get things done (well most of the times). However, it is also a call for small & medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs who may not have all the means that big businesses have but certainly have the agility, flexibility and less inertia to innovate products, processes and models of growth. Small businesses and entrepreneurs, at least initially, may not have a global impact and outreach but they certainly have possibilities to effect change in their local economies. They have the power to create “opportunities” in their local societies to begin with — job creation, economic opportunities, education, water, clean energy and much more.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs too have the power to enhance sustainable development and to be agents of change!

But how do we help these small businesses and entrepreneurs in less developed regions so that they can get off the ground and grow. How do we provide them “opportunities” to grow and thrive? Among many other factors, expert guidance and mentoring is critical.

These are the times where power of technology and its easy accessibility allows us to focus on Global Opportunities — know about the opportunities, follow opportunities, and create opportunities. TOGETHER — irrespective of our location.
Grow Movement has precisely been leveraging the power of technology and has been working with entrepreneurs and small businesses across diverse domains in Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda over last several years — with solid outcome.

The model is simple but has proved to be very effective and economical — in terms of time of people and also in terms of monetary requirements. Grow Movement brings together volunteer consultants (VCs) who have solid experience in their fields — finance, strategy, marketing, accounting, business modelling, energy, agriculture, media, education etc. These VCs provide guidance and mentoring to entrepreneurs over a fixed period of time.

How do VCs work with entrepreneurs? Remember the power of technology? VCs and entrepreneurs connect and work through email, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, cloud storage etc. VCs do not need to go to the countries where entrepreneurs are unlike many other volunteer programs where volunteers have to be physically present at locations of activity for periods of time.

Grow Movement works towards poverty reduction by supporting entrepreneurs. Poverty eradication is Sustainable Development Goal 1.

Over the years, our VCs across the world have worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs in diverse sectors ranging from innovative renewable energy solutions and knowledge based waste management to agriculture, services, hospitality, education, etc. This has helped create hundreds of jobs. Over time, with more jobs, economic conditions improve paves way for reduction in poverty.

Needless to say, with increasing incomes not just for entrepreneurs but also for employees this has paved path for development through ripple effect in their societies.

There are many stories but the following two simple but powerful sentences stuck with us:

No one can take my skills away from me. I am now fully self-employed and able to pay school fees for my children - George (38 years).

George runs a small business which addresses nutrition challenges in his community. He saw a problem, found a solution and implemented it with a business model suitable for his community with guidance from his VC! As a small business owner who has gained the skills and now has tremendous confidence to make his business grow. He has been able to support his family and he can now pay fees for his kids to go to school. As his kids get education, their education prospects improve and they are much less likely to end up in cycle of poverty and dependence as they grow up. Success of George and many men and women entrepreneurs like him have much power to uplift their societies now.

Grow Movement has helped both male and female entrepreneurs in Rwanda, Uganda and Malawi. Grow Movement has helped support Gender Equality — Sustainable Development Goal 5 and also helps reduce inequalities — at least based on gender and economic status — Sustainable Development Goal 10.

Powerful — isn’t it?

Power of technology enables Grow Movement to effect positive change towards sustainable development— one entrepreneur and VC at a time. In some projects, when needed, VCs from different parts of the world even collaborate & provide their expertise to get things done.
However, just technology is not enough. On our journey so far, we have found partnerships to be very effective. When we join hands towards a common mission, we have potential to bring about not just a much larger change but also a sustainable and far reaching change.

A big thank you from Grow Movement to all our partners so far who have helped Grow Movement to create opportunities for entrepreneurs across regions. Perhaps some of these entrepreneurs could be the ones who could grab the global opportunities.

PS: Grow Movement can be an efficient vehicle for your organization’s CSR and Sustainable Development work. If your organization wishes to explore possibilities of partnering with Grow Movement, please feel free to get in touch either by commenting below or through Grow Movement channels including website & twitter.

Note: Himanshu Ardawatia’s work focusses on impactful & sustainable solutions for sustainable development & sustainability. He serves Grow Movement as Europe Community Manager and also through volunteer consulting with Grow Movement from time to time.