From Young Enterprise Scotland To Rwanda

“Over many years the Young Enterprise Scotland Company programme has given tens of thousands of young people a great grounding in business skills and helped them to develop the associated entrepreneurial mindset. By forming this strategic alliance with Challenges Worldwide we are extending the opportunity for young people in Scotland to further develop these skills in a different and challenging environment.  I would urge any young person who has benefitted from the Company Programme to take a look at the Challenges Worldwide International Citizen Service (ICS) programme where you will make a difference socially and economically.” Geoff Leask, CEO, Young Enterprise Scotland

The Next Challenge

Last year Challenges Worldwide and Young Enterprise Scotland struck an exciting partnership with the intention of accelerating enterprise based learning for young Scots.  This spring has seen alumni of the YES Company Programme volunteer in African enterprises with Challenges Worldwide. Edinburgh based International Development Charity Challenges Worldwide run an International Citizen Service (ICS) programme in Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.

The programme sees 18-25-year-olds from the UK volunteer with African SME’s for a period of 12 weeks. During that time they can gain invaluable business and life experiences whilst working towards a qualification. The authors of this article both heard about Challenges Worldwide through the newly formed partnership and can both testify that Challenges Worldwide ICS is a natural extension of the YES Company Programme.

Bruce and Jamie both share a passion for enterprise and thank the YES Company programme for igniting this passion. During their school years, Bruce was Managing Director of Alba Hampers who represented the Grampian area in the 2010 Scottish finals. Jamie completed the programme much more recently, as Company Secretary of Infinity Enterprises representing Tayside at the 2015 National finals.

“Young Enterprise gave us a solid foundation of business experience and skills for us to move forward with,” said Jamie. The range of skills picked up by working in business is illustrated by the different paths that Bruce and Jamie took after the programme.

Bruce went on to complete a Degree in Property at the University of Aberdeen and has since started his own commercial property development business. Whilst at University Bruce also volunteered as a YE Business Advisor at his former school, encouraging future generations to take full advantage of the Young Enterprise experience. Jamie has been working in Market Research since leaving school and remains a keen follower of YES.

 

“Young Enterprise gave us a solid foundation of business experience and skills for us to move forward with,”

Bruce and Jamie are now in Kigali, Rwanda, volunteering as Business Support Associates with Challenges Worldwide on the ICS programme. Here is our interview with them on their experience so far:

What are your thoughts on the partnership between YES and Challenges Worldwide?

The experience of the Young Enterprise Company Programme, in allowing participants to set up and run their own business within a relatively controlled environment presents an unparalleled educational opportunity in Scotland today. There is no real substitute for practical learning and that is exactly what both programmes offer in abundance. We both firmly believe that Challenges Worldwide placements are a natural progression from the YES Company Programme and when combined, put participants in a very advantageous position in terms of personal learning and for their future careers.

Please tell us about the work you will you do on a Challenges Worldwide ICS placement?

A placement with Challenges Worldwide sees UK volunteers matched with an in-country counterpart and the pair placed in a local SME that is delivering a social impact. After the initial week of in country orientation and training, volunteer pairs are assigned along with their businesses – this is where the real work starts! The first three to four weeks are spent observing and analysing the assigned business using comprehensive tools supplied by Challenges.

Thereafter recommendations are developed to aid the business in its objectives – these are unique to every business so every pair is going to encounter different challenges throughout their placement. These recommendations are then refined and presented to the senior team of the business. A strategy is also developed for how these recommendations will be implemented to maximise the impact achieved in the time left.

Do you feel you are being well supported during your placement?

Throughout the placement, there are very capable staff and team leaders on hand to aid volunteers and training is delivered following the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) syllabus for a qualification in Professional Consulting. After completing the experience, alumni have the opportunity to complete CMI qualifications at a vastly reduced rate, an offer reserved exclusively for young people learning through Challenges.

Do you need any specific business skills to take part?

No specific skills are required ahead of the training so we would encourage anyone who has a passion for international development and a willingness to help businesses develop, to apply for the programme.

How does the Challenges Worldwide ICS programme relate to the YES Company programme?

There are many similarities in the learning points taken from the two programmes but the context in which they are learnt make the programmes unique and worthwhile. The business lessons are vast and far too wide ranging to possibly cover but much like working with school-mates can be challenging, the opportunity to work in a cross-cultural environment is truly eye-opening for everyone involved. Different people, places and cultures have different norms and the process of learning and dealing with these challenges allow for a great deal of personal growth over a short period of time.

Would you recommend the Challenges Worldwide ICS programme to other young Scots currently taking part in the YES Company programme?

“From our combined experience, we can safely say that the YES Company Programme really does leave you with lasting skills and helps prepare you for a Challenges Worldwide ICS placement. The Challenges Worldwide placement will help volunteers grow personally and professionally and make them a more rounded individual. If you want to use the skills you have learnt whilst creating a positive social and economic impact, don’t hesitate to volunteer through Challenges Worldwide and be prepared to have an incredible journey!”

Let’s take a quick moment to meet the enterprises that Jamie and Bruce are working with:

Green Harvest Challenges Worldwide Rwanda

Green Harvest Products

Green Harvest Products is a home grown small food processing business, producing their products in Kigali using Rwandan ingredients. Their brand identity is reinforced by their brand name ‘Sabana’ which means ‘sociable’. Currently, they make chilli oil, two chilli sauces (the only ones made in Rwanda) as well as a Sabana Ketchup. Challenges Worldwide Business Support Associates Jamie and Patrick will be helping in key areas such as sales and marketing and trade/export links.

SafeMotos

SafeMotos is the localised ‘uber’ of Moto taxis within the Kigali area.They have developed an app which allows users to effortlessly hail a moto using their GPS location. SafeMotos offers the user a set price for the journey with the option to pay by card or cash and the ability to review their driver. Key safety statistics are taken from drivers smartphones to show acceleration and deceleration speeds and through the use of an insurance style algorithm, they give their drivers a safety rating. This ensures that only the safest drivers are matched with SafeMoto customers. Challenges Worldwide Business Support Associates, Bruce Morrice and Kenneth Nabimanya, are working on refining the strategy of the business and future expansions into other East African markets.

We are currently recruiting for the Challenges Worldwide ICS programme starting in January and March 2018. If you are aged between 18 and 25 you can apply for  here