“Coming to these trainings means so much to me. Sometimes back home we think we are the only ones going through challenges. When we meet together, we feel the journey is not ours alone, when we share our challenges and success, we gain more strength. Thank you so much our lovely sisters for having made it possible.”
Alphonsine – Joy Cooperative
When we first met the 25 cooperatives we work with in Rwanda, they were just trying to survive. They had no hope for the future, no resources, no skills, no way to improve their lives, and very little trust in each other. Since we began working with them, we have seen profound changes take place. Each community now has the training, support, and confidence they need to move past their tortured history, believe in each other, and create a sustainable livelihood together.
The establishment of a strong, sustainable, COMMUNITY-RUN BUSINESS is key to their survival. Each of our cooperatives has launched or is planning a business that will benefit the entire community. They have spent many months conceptualizing their project, assessing its feasibility, conducting market research, and coming up with a sound plan in consultation with our Rwandan Business Coordinator, Judy Rwibutso, and Program Director, Justin Bisengimana.
After each plan is vetted by our Board of Directors, we seek funding for the project from our dancers and donors. With small grants ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, we have, so far, helped 20 of the communities launch a business or agricultural enterprise. Working with our Rwanda team, the co-ops produce a monthly report which is sent to our Business Committee so we can help guide the enterprise. Thanks to the partnership between our Board Business Committee, our Rwanda staff, and the co-op members, with modest financial support we are changing the lives of 8,400 people.
Our 2017 Spring Business Training
Sponsored by the Proctor & Gamble Alumni Foundation
Critical to the success of these businesses is the three-day Business Training we host each spring. This year’s Training was sponsored by Proctor and Gamble Alumni Foundation through Betsy Stivers, a P&G alumna, engineer, World Dancer, and the Chair of our Business Committee.
Sixty co-op leaders from across the country attended the three-day training held in Kigali. The experience has a profound impact on all the participants. After completing the course, the participants returned to their communities with new knowledge and skills that will help their businesses grow and their communities develop. The Training also deepened the bond between the co-op members, our Rwanda team, and World Dance for Humanity. It is this bond which is giving them the confidence to build a future with high aspirations and the tools to achieve them.
Report from Program Director Justin Bisengimana:
The goal of the Training was to give the participants the tools they need to make their businesses strong and sustainable. Increasingly, our co-op members know what they need to learn, and what skills are applicable to what the business they are running or the one they are dreaming to do. They were so keen to learn everything that was presented – they followed each lesson with maximum attention. They wrote down everything they, and what questions to ask. They showed a very exciting spirit to learn. They are now confident in asking questions and bringing up wise ideas. We used the break time to have fun together and do skits, which were all about what it means to be a great leader and manager.
We related all the course material to the reality of their businesses. They worked in small groups, discussing specific business concepts and sharing their experiences. Having co-op leaders from the older and younger generations played a big role because they learned from each other in so many ways. Sharing the stories of successful business experiences also inspired others to pursue these ideas. This has happened with the bakeries (Good Family is following two successful bakeries) and the sewing business (Tubehotwese is following two sewing start-ups). We expect our Water Project, Reusable Menstrual Pad Projects, and other successful start-ups will soon be replicated.
Judy was given time to share with the participants about Reusable Menstrual Pad Projects that four of our co-ops are launching. She showed reusable and disposable pads, and made a comparative analysis with the participants. It was agreed that the reusable pads are a better fit for our communities. Everyone was very interested in this project. They were given an assignment to go into their communities and do market research to help determine the price point for the reusable pads.
Establishing and expanding connections has been one of the most powerful fruits of the training. We truly have a strong family. None of our co-op members feel alone. They know they are part of the World Dance for Humanity family.
- Creating a business plan
- Steps in financial planning
- Monitoring and evaluation, profit and loss statements, business planning and adjustments
- Marketing strategies and analysis, supply and demand, staying competitive
- Understanding budget and capital
- Understanding bank loans – principle, interest, and repayment
- Reviewing the result of previous trainings to determine what has been the most useful to each co-op, what concepts need clarification, and what the new participants need to catch-up with the others before we move on.
- Sharing successful business stories to generate new business ideas and give confidence to those who are dreaming of running a business.
- Share openly about the Pad Project, who is interested in pursuing this, how to determine the price point, commercial vs. social service enterprise.
- As usual, business training leave the participants with thirst to dream of new businesses to start, giving them time to share will help them keep expand in their thinking by learning from each other’s thoughts.
- The importance of monitoring and evaluating the business to make strategic decisions that will result in success.
“Every time I get chance to come here, I learn so many new things which are so important in managing our co-op business. I wish I was saying this in front of our donor, Marianne [from P&G Alumni Foundation], who funded this training through our sisters at World Dance for Humanity. We thank you so much for investing in our knowledge. This kind of learning helps us keep track on our development goals. Eugene, Abaharaniramahoro (Striving for Peace) Cooperative.