Improving Women's Business Skills for Business Development

  • Business
  • Education
  • Women & Gender
  • Georgia
This project is led by Beverly Carr, a Volunteer from Missouri

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Improving Women’s Business Skills for Business Development is a 12-week training program for women aged 25 to 65 to learn and apply business skills such as financial literacy, inventory managment, leadership development, grant writing, social media/networking, and marketing/communications skills in a real-world environment. Business skills are mandatory for financial success and sustainability of social enterprises while engendering decision-making and leadership roles for women. The Director of the organization for which this training is designed, identified the need to improve women's business skills when after one year of production, the organization's traditional handicraft-making social enterprise was unable to generate income. The lack of product sales, the inability to set product prices, and an undefined market highlighted the urgency to improve women's business skills. The purpose of this training is to teach business skills to women that enable them to successfully operate the organization's social enterprise or operate their own social enterprise. After participating in 12-week training, at least 3 out 6 trainees will demonstrate business skills competency through professionally completed practicums; marketing plan and social media/networking strategy; and training at least 15 community women in business skills development. The effect will be a more effective social enterprise, at least 18 business savvy women, and a community knowledge base that engenders leadership roles and stable incomes for women. To make this project a reality, community members are contributing time, ideas, energy, and physical resources to develop women's business skills that promote sustainable social enterprises.

Community members are the driving force behind Improving Women’s Business Skills for Business Development. The Director of the Centre, teachers, local community members, and the Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) met in late March to discuss ideas for improving the lives of women in the community.  With the exception of one man, women aged 25 to 65 attended an informal Town hall-style meeting. What arose from this discussion is women have few opportunities to manage social enterprises because they lack the business skills necessary to successfully operate a social enterprise. During this timeframe, the Centre was developing a traditional handicraft-making social enterprise. The six adult female handicraft workers aged 25 to 65 are skilled in their craft but lack business skills such as pricing merchandise, budgeting, marketing, and networking skills to sell their products.

By the end of September 2018, the Centre’s traditional handicraft-making social enterprise had not generated any revenue. In nearly one year in existence, the social enterprise has not sold one item.  The Director, the Centre's 8-member staff, and the six traditional handicraft workers realized the need to teach business skills to women.  The aim of Improving Women’s Business Skills for Business Development is to teach the six traditional female handicraft workers social media/networking skills, price calculation, inventory management, marketing/communications skills, grant writing, project management and design, leadership development, and financial literacy skills.  These skills are required to develop a sustainable successful social enterprise.
The Centre is the perfect place for women's business skill training because the Centre has a social enterprise, the physical capacity, and some human capacity to conduct business skills trainings. The Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) will conduct trainings in financial literacy, price calculation, and inventory management with workflow analysis; the Director will conduct leadership and grant writing training; two professional trainers will teach project management and design, marketing/communications skills, and social media/networking skills.

This project will be 12-weeks in duration at the Centre one day per week for 6 hours a day for a total of 72 contact hours. The trainees will participate in 10 seminars with practicums and demonstrate business skills competency through work product such as viable and realistic budgets; marketing plans with price calculations and social media/networking strategy; and inventory management with workflow analysis.  The Director and PCV will determine participants' successful completion of seminars and practicums based on 90% or higher attendance rate and the level of competency, comprehension, and completion of their work product.  With the help of the Director and the PCV, trainees who successfully complete the 10 seminars will jointly conduct 2 community trainings with practicums in marketing/communications; social media/networking; budgeting; and project design and management to at least 15 community women.
The increased knowledge, expertise, and business skills acquired by trainees and community participants are long-term human resources that can be taught and shared with other members of the community.  This knowledge multiplier effect extends to the organization because the Director will have at least 3 traditional handicraft workers with the proper business skills required to successfully operate a social enterprise. The community in general benefits because an increase in the knowledge base improves the employment and revenue-generating capacity of the region.

By the end of the training, at least three of the six adult female traditional handicraft-making workers will be able to successfully manage the social enterprise at the business organization or manage their own social enterprise, if they choose to do so. Trainees will develop work product such as marketing/communications plan, social media/networking strategy, inventory management and budgeting that will be implemented into the social enterprise by the end of the project. The work product will be used as the social enterprise’s business strategy to generate income from the sale of its products. The work product will be the basis for converting the social enterprise from a zero-sales business into a revenue-generating entity; which ensures the survival of the social enterprise.

The business skills training program and the work product from the trainees will become the organization's business skills training model in the future. The team will, of course, adapt the business skills training model when necessary. In the future, this business skills training model could become the standard business training model for the region, or at least for social enterprises in the region.

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