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I work every day on the plan for my new business

Zwei Männer stehen im Freien nebeneinander und schauen in die Kamera.
Mohammed S. (on the left) and his coach Ismael Santos Pulido from Social Impact

Despite face coverings, the smiles are clear from their eyes: Mohammed S. and his coach, economist Ismael Santos Pulido, are meeting for the first time on this Thursday at the beginning of June – and immediately get on well. Before, they only knew each other from phone calls. Over a month ago, Mohammed S. completed a business start-up training course run by the coach from Social Impact StartHope@Home. Personal meetings were limited during the corona pandemic, so they have worked together by phone until now. Initially it was twice a week, and then for an hour a day. "I work every day on the plan for my new business in Gambia."

"Mohammed is very motivated", says Santos Pulido full of praise, "and we're working hard to discuss as many issues as possible before he goes back." It is still not clear exactly when the Gambian can travel to be with his wife and their four children. After almost five years in Europe, however, Mohammed S. hopes he will soon be back with his family in his native region of Sare Hamady. There, in eastern Gambia, he wants to open a small shop selling food and other everyday items. Mohammed S. ran a small shop even before he left Gambia. "But I made some mistakes, and I was a bit naive", he says. "What I'm learning now will help me make better decisions and run my business successfully."

Auf dem Display eines Laptops steht „Cashbook“. Auf dem Tisch vor dem Laptop liegen Lego-Bausteine und Spielgeld.
The training includes subjects like costing and marketing.

A joint approach to estimation and marketing

He has jotted down a number of topics in his writing pad and used a marker pen to highlight parts which are especially important: "Estimation – how much money will I need to open the shop?" or "Marketing – how can I add more customers?". Mohammed S. and Santos Pulido have also carefully considered the planned location. Since there are several schools and a hospital nearby, Mohammed S. additionally intends to cater for lunch breaks. He would use his own agricultural produce where possible. "Ismael always asks me the right questions", says Mohammed S., "and helps me come up with good ideas."

Today's questions arise from short creative exercises using Lego bricks and a business management simulation game: buying and selling – pretend money is being pushed back and forth. The two of them discuss inventory lists and accounting books. "It's difficult to explain these topics by phone – so it's great that we can finally meet in person", says Santos Pulido, pointing to the tables on his laptop. Mohammed S. transfers them to his writing pad, asks some questions and performs some calculations on his smartphone. He didn't take running his shop so seriously in the past. But he sees the advantages of commercial accounting: "It gives me an overview and makes it easier to work things out."

A certificate as a support for dealing with the bank

A start-up business management certificate is awarded at the end of training to confirm what has been learnt. This qualification will also be very useful when dealing with banks and other lenders. The business plan, which must be completed at some point, will also undergo a subsequent reality check: experts in Gambia will review whether Mohammed S.'s calculations are realistic. This should ensure there is a firm foundation to his dream of a bright future for himself and his family.

This article is part of a series of articles.

  • The previous article in the series can be found here
  • The next article in the series can be found here.

As of: 07/2020

What I'm learning now will help me make better decisions and run my business successfully.
Mohammed S.