In March 2019, two Maa Trust staff members, Marias and Isen, attended a Street Business School (SBS) workshop in Kampala, Uganda. They were trained in skills to coach small scale entrepreneurs on how to fight poverty through business and then certified as Lead Business Coaches.
They are now using the skills gained to train others. From July to December 2019, 32 community members attended the twice-weekly 8 modules, 6-month course Street Business School training course, and graduated with a certificate in entrepreneurship. The course covered a wide variety of business skills including business identification, bookkeeping, market research, and business planning. The students will continue to receive coaching and support from Marias and Isen for one year after graduation.
The training programme has helped graduates to develop and adopt new strategies to increase sales and profit margins for their micro-businesses. The course encourages creativity, problem-solving, and commitment, with entrepreneurs becoming more business-oriented and dedicating full attention to their businesses. The skills gained from the Street Business School curriculum have supported the development of new businesses, and enhanced existing ones that help the graduates individually, and also as a whole.
Many entrepreneurs, especially women, have realized that being economically empowered through business development helps to address gender inequality and other societal challenges. For example, many of the ladies in the programmes were not previously included in household decision making, but now that they are also contributing to the household economically, they have been given a voice in family decision making.
Nolari Ololobwakita is a mother of seven, and she has two co-wives (her husband has three wives). She has an older son who dropped out of school because her small enterprise buying and selling sugar with a 5% markup was not generating sufficient revenue. In the second month of the SBS training course, Nolari already started showing increased sales in her business, as well as expansion. During the midline surveys, she had already set up a grocery stall at the market where she sold groceries and maximized her customer base by distributing groceries in her village. She happily agreed to have her story told and urges other Maasai women in the community to explore additional business ventures to diversify and supplement their income.
Having learned about record and bookkeeping as well as money management as part of the course, Nolari’s son helps her in managing her accounts. Selling groceries door-to-door is unusual in the Maasai Mara, where families usually travel to market days to buy their groceries, but Nolari has identified and is targeting, a gap in the market by taking the groceries to people’s houses for sale.
“The Street Business School has taught me to get out of my comfort zone, forget what the society has restricted me to, and to work hard and be smart. This has led my business to increase sales.” Nolari Ololobwakita
In early 2020, a new cohort of trainees from the Talek community was to be recruited for the 8-module course. However, due to COVID 19 which has led to the government restricting all public gatherings, this programme has been halted. We aim to resume these as soon as the government lifts restrictions.