Virtual mentoring charity in Africa looks for volunteers

| 14th Mar 14

Grow Movement has helped create hundreds of jobs in Africa through virtual mentoring, helping to transform the lives of thousands through a simple phone call.

The charity pairs up business consultants across the world with businessmen and women in Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi to give advice over Skype, phone and email.

‘Volunteer Consultants’ use their specialist knowledge to share information with anyone from chicken part sellers and tailors in Malawi, perfume shops in Uganda and rubbish collectors in Rwanda and identify areas for improvement, eventually growing the business and creating vital jobs in the community from the comfort of their desks.

Grow Movement was set up by fund manager Chris Coghlan in 2009 after studying the Rwandan genocide at university and witnessing the extreme levels of human suffering when volunteering in Mozambique, the DR Congo and Rwanda.

Frustrated by current methods of tackling world poverty, and seeing how easy it was to get a mobile connection in even the most remote areas, he identified a way to utilise this to empower business owners.

The charity has now helped to create almost 500 jobs – 84 in Rwanda, 27 in Malawi and 371 in Uganda – with the aim of creating another 1,000 jobs by 2015. Through this success, approximately 15,216 people have been positively affected – be they families, children, friends or the wider community.

21 per cent of the businesses involved have also evolved from micro to small businesses, and 41 per cent have seen an increase in profits.

Volunteering with the charity is a way to play a role without needing to take a sabbatical or spend months away from home; an opportunity to create jobs and see the direct results of their advice through personal relationships rather than simply contributing money. They can learn about the day-to-day challenges entrepreneurs in remote parts of Africa face as well as practice their own skills and enhance their CVs.

With a huge need for expertise to help the growing numbers of retail entrepreneurs in these countries, the charity is now launching a drive to sign up Volunteer Consultants within the industry to coach in everything from marketing to price promotion and product placement. 

According to CEO Claire Jenkins CEO: “I am constantly blown away by the energy and drive of all our entrepreneurs – there is such motivation to improve their businesses, to become employers themselves and to contribute to their countries. All they need is guidance in the issues we take for granted when going shopping, such as advertising and promoting products by price and USP. This is a chance for potential volunteers to take on a life-changing role without taking a long break from work – all it takes is a few phone calls and emails. It’s an incredibly insightful, unique and challenging experience where skills are shared on both sides – the volunteers also learn a huge amount from their clients.”