Train The Trainer

Livingstone Mukasa presenting training on the Reconxile course.

There is an old saying that says: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man and he will eat for life time.”

Livingstone Mukasa.

Livingstone Mukasa is from Kampala, Uganda. Having grown up under difficult financial conditions, he knows first-hand the struggles that confront people trapped in poverty. Even after obtaining a higher diploma in marketing and moving on to get a job, he still found it difficult to financially support himself and a family well. Livingstone saw that employees of businesses were not the ones making money, It’s the business owners that take home the biggest reward.

With this realisation early on in life he decided that the only way out of poverty was to start a business of his own. Soon after that realisation he left his employment to start his own business. He has since grown into a successful businessman. With his success as a businessman and a desire to see others move themselves from the poverty line to better economic situation, he has also started training people in how to start and run their own businesses.

Michael Clargo & Reconxile

Livingstone had a contact in the UK called Michael Clargo. Michael Clargo, a director of Tesseract Management Systems (http://www.tesseracts.co.uk/), and a few businessmen in the UK had a sense that they wanted to do something about the poverty in the world and decided to start in Uganda. Armed with some money to invest, and good business knowledge and experience, these businessmen set out to meet with small business owners to offer advice and possibly financial assistance. After meeting with many business owners these UK businessmen found that the small business owners all wanted a large capital boost, and many of the decisions they were making for their businesses and planned to make with the possibility of more money seemed to not make good business sense, or to not be helpful to the poor. The businessmen then set out to find some some material that would assist them to train people in business, but all they found were materials that were either too complex or too simple. They decided they would write their own material. This was the birth of Reconxile (http://www.reconxile.org/).

The Reconxile programme has a few workbooks / courses ranging from inspiring business start-ups to setting up a business and onto improving a business once up and running. The programme has and is constantly being refined with feedback given, and adapted to local languages and circumstances. The Reconxile programme is a great tool (especially the workbook on starting up a business) we’ve found, used, and look forward to using these more as we progress in our efforts here at Let Us Work.

Earlier this year in February we had the opportunity to invite Livingstone Mukasa from Uganda come out to see us and give us training on how to present the Reconxile workbook 2 course (setting up a business). Livingstone is a successful businessman in Uganda as well as a skilled trainer of the Reconcile programme. Since starting his own business and raising it to be a success, he has also presented the Reconxile programme to many church and other groups all over Uganda. His skill in presenting and inspiring hope as taken him to many countries around the world to share the Reconxile programme.

We had a great time in the training sessions. Livingstone spent the first two days of the week training prospective entrepreneurs on how to set-up and run a business with the Reconxile material. The following three days he trained current and prospective Let Us Work trainers on how to present the course. It was a three days of intense training. The focus was not so much on the material to be taught as it was on how best to present and teach it. The course material is quite easy to read alone and to be self taught, so with the students armed with the material to go over in our own time, Livingstone focused on the presentation methods of the course.  At the end of the training, those on the training all received certificates for the completion of the training.

We are grateful to Livingstone for taking time out of running his business to come over to South Africa to teach us how to teach others! Here are a few pics from the week of training in the Let Us Work training room:

In the market for change

Adapting business solutions to local circumstances.

In Umbazwane, there aren’t shopping malls, but this small complex is as close to one as you’ll find in rural KZN. There is no supermarket, just a SPAR (convenience store) and a few other small shops. Chinese owned shops are beginning to pop up, but other than that – the business done here is through informal markets like this one.

You can buy fruit and veg, brooms, matches, and other items. The problem is, a lot of the people are selling the same thing at the same price. A couple of stalls will be selling tomatoes, or brooms, with no competition. Their supplier is the same, their product is the same, their marketing and location is the same and the only advantage, is whether a potential customer approaches to their stall first. This scenario is the same throughout KZN, and in fact throughout much of Africa. Curio’s are mostly sourced from the same supplier, and prices are fixed.

This is why the training that Let Us Work is providing is important. We would like to teach rural people how to do business in a way that not only benefits them, but their community. Teach them a little about market research, buying from each other to support local business, and how to make the best of their capital.

In one of the regions we’ve been conducting workshops, one of the trainees came up with the idea of raising and selling chickens. The problem is, rural micro-business cannot hope to compete with the massive chicken farmers, who have every process and space streamlined to make the most profit, with the least amount of spending. A better way to do business, is to rather add value to the product. At the end of the training, the idea had evolved into: raising and marketing organically fed, free range “Emvelo” chickens that are larger and healthier, and then cook them, with spices etc as take away food. Although there is chicken available in the convenience store for a very competitive price, there is no chicken take-away in the area. This is the kind of thinking that we try to encourage! We also have many businesses that involve green ideas. We will be posting more on that soon!