In 2009, a fund manager in London asked himself whether business people could make a difference in the developing world without leaving their desks. This person, Chris Coghlan, founded the Grow Movement which answered the question with a resounding YES. Using volunteers from thirty countries, Grow’s first 40 projects helped small businesses in Africa to increase their profits by an average of 20% and to create 100 new jobs bringing great benefit to 100 families and their local communities.
I have been a consultant with Grow for two years and am on my second project – developing a marketing strategy for a not-for-profit organisation in Uganda which trains women and young people to unleash their entrepreneurial leadership potential. For my first project, I helped a small business owner develop a market research program and clarify her business focus.
About the Grow Movement
The Grow Movement matches volunteer consultants with entrepreneurs or small business owners who are in need of advice and assistance. The consultants work by phone and email, and so can be based anywhere in the world. The projects last 12 sessions (ideally, 12 weeks) with a commitment of a one hour phone call and a couple of hours preparation for each session. The first three sessions are focussed on getting to know the business and business owner, and clarifying a specific objective for the project which is then undertaken over the remaining nine sessions.
The success of Grow so far owes much to Violet Busingye, its first business manager on the ground in Uganda, who has done a fantastic job working with both entrepreneurs and consultants to ensure that the projects are a success. The following video clip is of founder Chris Coghlan explaining Grow’s vision at the TEDx event at the London Business School.
What Drives Me
My long-term vision is to further develop my consulting skills and use them to help improve the world (as Chris points out, conflict is far less likely to occur if you do not have angry young men with no job, nothing to lose and no hope.) I plan to do this on location in the developing world when I have the opportunity, but what I love about the Grow Movement is that I have the opportunity to make a difference, right here, right now.
I would encourage you to think about how you could be involved. There are two ways that you could do this.
- If you have a strong business background, please think about becoming a volunteer consultant. See Grow’s website for more information, or drop me a note and I can give you further details.
- Please consider making a donation. Each project only costs US$100, and you can give through my fundraising page.
In future posts I will be talking more about the Grow Movement, as well as other organisations that are taking a market approach to development in the majority world.