Learning: A walk of discovery

Blog post was written by the Micro Enterprise Team

“There is divine beauty in learning. To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me and I walk in their footsteps.” Elie Wiesel

Ivan Illich says that learning is the human activity that least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful activity.

For 46 of our newest clients, their participation in a meaningful activity began on 21st May 2018. The Micro-Enterprise Business Training week is a learning and activity-filled week for the team and the clients.

This month’s business training week began on a very high note with Naomi Nyanchama, Our Operations Manager giving them each a piece of paper and asking them to draw their dream clearly illustrating where they wanted to be in the next five years and how they wanted to get there. CS Lewis’s sentiments that you are never too old to set another goal or dream another dream were strongly echoed during this session. She also asked some of the members to share their dreams with the rest of the team. She encouraged our clients to stay focused on where they wanted to go and remember the week’s training was the beginning because as Guy Kawasaki says, the goal is to provide inspiring information that moves people to action.

The day progressed well with the clients being trained in farming as a business, Gross Margin analysis, and soil and water conservation. The topics were carefully taught using relevant examples and in a dialect, they could understand. Farming as a business is designed to open the eyes of our clients to see the opportunities of income generation in their everyday farming activities. The clients admitted having been victims of subsistence where they could have acquired income to cater for their other needs. As they clearly explained how they will turn their farms into income-generating activities, it was clear that what they had learned was not just theory but transformative.

The second day, the clients have trained in Business Planning; sales projections, expense projections and profit projections. They were taught how to write a budget and business plans which included the demonstration of sales and expenses projections for a period of one year. The session was important not just planning for the loan they were about to receive but also for the side businesses that would grow. The clients then drew their own projections which were assessed by the whole micro enterprise team, this took a lot of time as many clients do not have a quick grasp of the mathematical computations but with the help of the micro enterprise members present, this was successfully done.  The clients admitted having been guilty of not keeping good records when it came to their businesses but resolved that that would now change.

During the Business Training week, livestock production expert trained the clients on livestock production: breeding, feeding, and housing. Most of our clients venture into dairy farming as a source of livelihood and subsistence. With most people within the region having small pieces of land, dairy farming is practiced in small zero grazing units. These units are designed in such a way that they offer comfort, security, and safety to the dairy cows. It was an important topic as a lot of dairy cattle diseases are associated with poor living conditions a matter he emphasized on as he demonstrated how the unit should be designed and built. Additionally, another livestock officer explained in great detail the topics on dairy cattle feeding, calf rearing and cattle pests and diseases. With the amount of milk production being a direct result of the quality of feeding a cow gets, the facilitator took time to explain and engage the clients on what and how to feed a dairy cow. He later explained how to raise high-quality calves. They were also trained on how to prevent and manage pests and diseases that affect their locality because massive losses come as a result of pests and diseases and sometimes even result in the death of the cow.

With the Village HopeCore loaning program being fully anchored in the group setting, it is of paramount importance that the loan groups be strong enough to facilitate successful repayment of loans. A sub-county officer covered the sub-topics on conflict management within the groups, writing up comprehensive and acceptable group constitutions and by-laws and the roles and responsibilities of all leaders and members within the group. The facilitator took time to explain in detail the various sources of conflicts within the group and how they can be avoided or solved. This ensures that issues which may arise within their interactions are addressed in the right way to avoid the group disintegrating.

The last day of the training is health-focused. As our model of African three-legged stool of poverty eradication states, health intervention is crucial to poverty eradication because a sick person is not able to tend to their business effectively. The clients were trained on First Aid, Common Illnesses, Family Planning, and nutrition and asked a lot of questions. Health care services were also provided to the clients who required medical care and they were reminded that these services existed to ensure that they are well taken care of wholesomely.

At the end of the training, the clients received certificates of participation that were awarded to them by the Micro Enterprise Program Coordinator, Jillo Gubal Shamzad.

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