Pitching her passion for her future hair salon
This postcard is written by Chi Nguyen, our In-The-Field Traveler for Southern Africa. Chi will be traveling to the nine countries of Southern Africa over a span of six months, visiting and assisting our current partner organizations.
On Friday, April 11th, I had the privilege of sitting in on one of One Global Economy's MEP (Mobile Entrepreneur Program) Workshops. Although James, OGE's MEP workshop facilitator, had given me the background on the purpose and impact of the workshops previously, I was completely unaware of the powerful and inspiring presentations and conversations that I would bear witness to that day.
The workshop started off with the participants breaking into smaller groups and brainstorming at least five "Challenges Entrepreneurs Face" with their five corresponding "Solutions to Challenges Entrepreneurs Face". When it came time to present, the groups discussed everything from funding to market saturation to unethical behavior of employees. The workshop was dynamic and interactive throughout, with groups providing positive feedback or points of improvement to each presenter, and the presenter reacting with a positive smile. James does a good job in encouraging as much constructive criticism as possible, stating something along the lines of, "We are all here to help each other, no? If you keep quiet, you are withholding information that might otherwise be useful to your peers! These are not abstract problems - we may all face these problems one day, and if we help each other through the thinking now, we can all be more prepared in the future." This encourages all workshop participants to share their ideas, no matter how big or small, to the entire room.
The workshop activities close with everyone presenting their two-minute sales pitch of their product to the classroom, something that they've been working towards since the beginning of the week. Almost every single person was nervous, but were repeatedly buoyed by the classroom's reaction. The workshop participants found a good balance between being positively supportive and productive with their criticism for one another, and this inspired one workshop participant who had stumbled through her sales pitch of her future hair salon to voluntarily present her sales pitch one more time at the end of the workshop. She passed with flying colors, and the applause in the room was both hearty and heartfelt, with everyone smiling and congratulating her on her excellent delivery.
It was graduation day, and when everyone finished their sales pitch speeches, each participant came up to the front of the room, one by one, to receive their Certificate of Achievement and to have their photo taken. As we sat waiting for the informal ceremony to start, one participant gushed about the week-long program. She told me how, because of MEP, she has learned how to budget money, how to speak in front of others, how to start a business, and how to see past the obstacles to the opportunities. She told me that she now knows how to differentiate between her needs and her wants, to prioritize for her future, to save instead of spending just for the sake of spending. She has learned the difference between immediate and delayed gratification, and she gestures enthusiastically as she tells me how thankful she is for this program and how much of a difference it has made in her life in only just one week. I tell her that I completely see what she means, even after only having spent one day in the Mobile Entrepreneurs Program. She and I laughed as I said, "How I wish I could attend this program myself!"