The Enterprises Development Network (EDN) brings together local associations which have gradually been created in order to implement and supervise the activities of the Support Program for Small Enterprises in partnership with the IECD.
Since 2010, the collaborative work has led to the organization of annual seminars which enable exchanges concerning the definition of training content and common ideas about methodology. Together, the Network’s members undertake to develop, improve, expand and preserve the unity of the Support Program for VSEs. In October 2016, the 6th regional seminar of the EDN was held in Ebolowa, South Cameroon, and brought together more than 20 representatives of associations from Cameroon, Congo, the Ivory Coast and Madagascar, as well as the IECD’s VSE Program managers. The themes studied were business diagnosis, team performance management, training of vulnerable populations and impact assessment. Following the seminar, cross-cutting working groups will continue the projects initiated throughout the year.
Small informal businesses, artisans, traders and local services represent the main pool of employment and form the principal source of revenue for millions of people (90% of jobs created between 1990 and 2000 in Africa were informal businesses, according to the International Labor Organization). However, these activities are often not very viable. Without support, these businesses have very little hope of survival and growth.
Since the end of the 1990s, the IECD and its partners have implemented the Support Program for Very Small Enterprises (VSE), which helps heads of small businesses or start-up entrepreneurs to consolidate and expand their activity by improving their management skills. Basic Management Training (BMT) targets active entrepreneurs, but those wishing to start their own business are also supported by Start-Up Training (SUT). These two courses include theoretical sessions in the classroom and several hours of individual support for up to one year after training. This support plays a key role in the appropriation of management notions and tools by entrepreneurs.
3,747 women and men benefited from the activities organized in the eight countries of the VSE program, 40% of whom were women.
81% of entrepreneurs use at least one management tool (cashbook, stock cards, etc.) 6 months after the training (compared to 36% when signing-up).
76% of certified entrepreneurs have professional and/or personal savings and are working on developing their business six months after the training (compared to 52% when signing-up).
26% of VSE created at least one job six months after the training.
WOMEN CENTER STAGE!
Based on the observation that two-thirds of businesses in the worldare created by women, the IECD’s programs focus on their financial independence as a key vector for sustainable economic development. However, women face many obstacles and it should be highlighted that the income generated from their activities has a limited potential for growth.
The IECD is building relationships with local partners involved in the promotion and empowerment of women and is setting up many initiatives that help women to develop their activities: 40% of the beneficiaries of the IECD’s Support Program for VSEs are currently women and this percentage is particularly high in some countries (80% in Palestinian Territories, 78% in Lebanon, 76% in Vietnam, 64% in Madagascar).
Some projects are even reserved solely for women. Thus, in Palestine, the IECD supports the development of a women’s cooperative which currently employs about 20 workers and also offers an agri-food training course in order to provide women in the East Jerusalem region with marketing and management skills.
Since the end of 2015, the IECD has been working with the Women’s Union, a socio-political organization that helps and supports Vietnamese women. In 2016, the IECD trained about 50 women from this organization in the basics of management. In Congo-Brazzaville, 32 young street girls participated in the basic management training thanks to a partnership with the ASI association.
In line with these projects, the IECD has built a partnership with the Bel group which aims to support and train street vendors in the Ivory Coast, DRC and Vietnam, a majority of whom are women, in how to manage their business. The training content was reviewed in order to adapt to a less educated public and 276 people were trained in 2016.
For the past 10 years I have had several businesses without really knowing how to go about things properly. My lack of organization meant that I was always tired and, before attending the training, I felt very pessimistic. Things started to change after the first few sessions I have progressed from selling three boxes of eggs a day to seven. And I now know how to ensure a relationship of trust with my customers thanks to three words that I will never forget: transparency, cordiality and confidence. But, my best reward is having learned how to organize myself so that I can take care of my child and my business ″
Basic management student in 2016, Abidjan, Ivory Coast