Fundraising is a key step in the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme. The funds raised by our UK volunteers account for about 10% of the overall costs of International Citizen Service programmes, the remaining 90% is funded by the UK Government. To find out more about why our volunteers are fundraising for ICS click here.
As Challenges Worldwide ICS placements focus on supporting African SME’s (Small-Medium sized Enterprises) to grow we encourage our volunteers to use their fundraising activities to hone their business skills. One of our volunteers Tanmeet Panesar has done just that ahead of her placement to work with a business in Ghana this spring. We caught up with Tanmeet to find out what she has been up to.
Hi Tanmeet, great to see you are doing well with your fundraising for your Challenges Worldwide ICS placement, you have been very entrepreneurial and we think you are displaying the kind of proactive nature that will ensure success, therefore we thought it would be good to catch up with you so you could share your experience and help inspire others with their fundraising efforts.
So, please start by telling us, what are you doing for your fundraising?
Why did you choose to make and sell products for your fundraising?
It was kind of spontaneous, I had a lot of colourful string at home that was just collecting dust so I figured I’d try and make something out of it. The inspiration came from seeing photographs of some bracelet ideas on Pinterest.
Due to the limited free-time, I had to plan and organise other fundraising events and I figured making and selling a product would be an ideal fit for my busy schedule and the enterprising aspect would align well with the work I would be doing on placement.
Have you much experience in making products by hand?
A little, as with many Pinterest users I am sure everyone gets inspired by some unique cost-effective DIY only to discover it’s not as easy to implement as it often looks. But there is something about the challenge of figuring how to recreate some these DIY’s that I quite enjoy.
However, until now I have never thought of selling products that I had made until I started my fundraising journey.
How do you plan to sell them?
Currently, I have been selling them offline, mostly through word of mouth and it’s being going well – there’s only about 20 left in stock. I did end up making an Instagram page to promote them a few weeks after starting to sell them.
In retrospect, I probably should have set-up an online shop to increase my customer base but at the time I was doubtful these bracelets would even sell, and now with only 8% left of my target it doesn’t seem necessary.
Do you have experience of selling products online?
No, but I have been reading up on the new online marketing strategies used by companies but have yet to try it out for myself. But I have become inspired by this experience to hopefully try setting up an online shop soon, maybe once I am back from Ghana.
Do you think that fundraising for Challenges Worldwide ICS has helped you to improve your skills?
Yes, it has taught me how to take advantage of my social network to rally support whilst also building on my communication, time-management and organisational skills. I have gotten better at persuading people to donate and explaining why helping SME’s and the local economy is a more beneficial way that I can help compared to the traditional construction work based volunteer projects.
How do you think you might use these skills to support a fast-growing business in Ghana?
Being able to improvise when your circumstances change, I think this is essential in keeping ahead of the crowd. As the SME density in large cities in Ghana is presumably very high, I imagine direct competition faced by each business will be everywhere. To succeed and push a business beyond simply surviving I think a flexible approach to problem-solving will be key. Whereas strong communication skills will allow me to convey my ideas and suggestions better.
What are you most hoping to get out of your Challenges Worldwide ICS placement Ghana?
- Making a sustainable impact
- Improving my knowledge of marketing and business consultation.
- Learning about SME development in Ghana
- Learning about how developing countries are working towards minimising their contribution climate change and what I can do to help.
- To gain inspiration from Ghanaian resourcefulness and work ethic.
Thanks, Tanmeet, well we certainly hope that you will return from Ghana feeling more informed about how business works in Ghana and inspired to continue to make a difference in your day to day work. We will do our best to ensure you have ample opportunities to help Ghanaians decrease their contribution to climate change and bring that knowledge back to the UK to share with your own community.
Finally, where can our readers see your wonderful creations, and if so inclined, donate to your fundraising campaign?
You can see my bracelets on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tanmeet_panesar/
and you can visit my JustGiving to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Tanmeet-Panesar
Tanmeet will be travelling to Ghana in February as part of the Challenges Worldwide International Citizen Service programme to spend 12 weeks supporting a Ghanian business to improve their operations and increase their profits so that they can encourage positive economic growth in their local community. To follow her progress keep up to date with us on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or our blog.