Bringing the GreenHouse experience to my field placement

Seyni and Lexi at a St. Paul's eventPrior to leaving for Mzuzu, Malawi to work as a business management and entrepreneurship officer for the Ungweru Organization, I spent a term at St. Paul’s GreenHouse. One of the responsibilities of my work in Malawi consisted of training the youth of Mzuzu in business management and to help them start their own businesses.

"My experience at the GreenHouse enabled me to have the background to deliver my training content adequately and showed me how entrepreneurs should be incubated in order to achieve the expected results."

Youth in Malawi have brilliant startup ideas. However, the country’s financial system is not friendly to young entrepreneurs. Big banks give loans at exorbitant rates and demand collaterals that the youth do not possess. Microfinance institutions are not more appealing than the former.

On that note, youth receive a lot of training in business and entrepreneurship, endless advice sessions on how to start their businesses, and finally how to keep them alive. Unfortunately, few of these trainings are fruitful since there is little or no follow-up after they are delivered.

Seyni interacting with local children

The ineffectiveness of this “using entrepreneurship to tackle unemployment and poverty” strategy is that some NGOs who deliver the trainings misidentify what the principal objective should be.

Many NGOs focus mostly on how many people receive training, rather than how they are using the training. Trainees often receive a lot of knowledge without being provided an environment or tools to put that acquired knowledge in to use. In other words, the focus is put on the quantity, rather than quality of trainings.

St. Paul’s GreenHouse is an example of how entrepreneurship training is paired with supports that empower entrepreneurs to bring their ideas into action, a key piece which appeared to be missing in what I observed on my field placement. 

Seyni with a group of locals

Seyni Mbaye is a GreenHouse alumnus and International Development student, graduating in June 2017

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