My Pre Placement Training in Edinburgh

Months after I applied for a Challenges Worldwide ICS placement, it is finally beginning to feel like a reality.

In January, I travelled to the Challenges Worldwide’s headquarters in Edinburgh for my Pre-Placement training. This was a fantastic opportunity to meet the charity’s staff, including CEO Eoghan Mackie, as well as other ICS volunteers who will be travelling to Uganda, Zambia or Ghana and to learn about the placement and Private Sector Development.


I learnt about the 5 arms which make up Challenges: Challenges Consulting, Challenges Capital, Challenges College, and Challenges Marketplace are social enterprises set up to deliver services alongside the charity Challenges Worldwide.

Enterprise volunteering

I learned how my work in Zambia will support SMEs (Small & Medium enterprises) and what happens after my 3-month placement. It is great to see there is potential for a small business to receive support from Challenges for years after I have worked with them on placement. A trailer for a movie, Poverty Inc, showed us why supporting Private Sector Development, as Challenges Worldwide does, helps alleviate poverty in a more effective and sustainable way than giving aid. This is a message I am keen to spread.

“It is great to see there is potential for a small business to receive support from Challenges for years after I have worked with them on placement”

Realities on placement – logistics, health and security

We heard some great stories from staff and previous volunteers about the realities of living with a local host family, commuting on local buses and the conflicts that can arise while overseas.  We also learnt how to keep ourselves and others safe, secure and healthy while living in a new unfamiliar city. I now feel much more prepared to have an effective, productive and enjoyable time volunteering.

Snapshot of my bus commute between my @ChallengesWorldwide enterprise and my Zambian host home

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Supply Chains

We discussed and ran an exercise to find out how much the primary producer may receive for a product which is exported and sold. For example, chocolate in a British supermarket. The amount is even smaller than I expected! The primary producer can receive as little as 4p for a produce sold for £2.35. This is something I will consider when buying groceries in the future. If Challenges are successful in their mission to create resilient and transparent supply chains in developing economies, wealth will be distributed more evenly and bring about prosperity for the enterprises and communities that we rely on for our goods.

Chartered Management Institute training

Challenges equip all Challenges Worldwide ICS volunteers with tools and processes for supporting a business. This is in the form of E-learning through Challenges College and weekly face to face training sessions with the whole team. The training course is accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and we are all able to take an assessment and receive a qualification from CMI if we wish to do so.

I look forward to my Chartered Management Institute accredited training and applying my training to support a Zambia SME!

Good luck to all those that I met for their upcoming Challenges Worldwide ICS adventure.

Written by Natalie Cheung