training

147, Okocha Nkem, Mamamoni | Empower Women to Break the Cycle of Poverty

Mamamoni is a social enterprise that empowers women to break the cycle of poverty with free vocational skills and mobile loans.

Break the cycle of poverty with Okocha Nkem

Okocha Nkem, Mamamoni

When Okocha Nkem was a child in Lagos, Nigeria, her father died. Because her mother had no marketable skills and no access to finance, the family was stuck in a cycle of poverty.

When a family friend visited them, and saw their condition, he took pity and gave Nkem’s mother a small amount of money. Instead of using the money to buy much-needed food and school fees, Nkem’s mother took the money and traveled to a far off-village where she bought vegetables. She brought them back to Lagos and sold the vegetables for a profit. She began doing this regularly to support the family. Because there were four children, this money was still not enough. So, Nkem joined her in the market, selling cosmetics.

Nkem eventually became a house help, living with a family and caring for their children. This allowed Nkem to pay her school fees. She went on to complete her university degree and landed a secure role in a bank. But Nkem is an entrepreneur. While working in the bank, she also built a small “side hustle” business doing web and mobile development. And after eight years, her project became big enough for her to move to this work full time.

As Nkem went to her office every day, she met women who were stuck in poverty because they lacked the skills and capital, just as her mother had years before. These women would come to her and say “Aunty, can you help? I have not eaten today.” Nkem took her meager means and printed fliers. She enrolled a friend into helping her to train these women in vocational skills. She bought the supplies needed to teach the class. She invited women in her community to the class for free.

Nkem began to teach these women skills that would allow them to start businesses. She lent them working capital from her small personal savings. She also added financial acumen training to help them to keep track of their businesses. They developed a tool kit to help these women keep track of their finances. Because these women were un-banked, she developed a mobile money platform that would give them access to banking services. This was the beginning of Mamamoni.

For two years, Nkem funded the initiative from her personal business. She documented what she was doing on social media.

In 2015, the US Consulate General put out a call for proposals for businesses that empower women. Nkem put in a proposal, describing her work at Mamamoni. Because the embassy could see the evidence of her two years of work on social media, they agreed to fund her.

Mamamoni is a Fintech social enterprise that breaks the cycle of poverty, creates livelihood and improves financial inclusion through vocational skills and mobile loans. Mamamoni’s web platform enables individuals anywhere to invest in poor women by lending to them, helping them to break the cycle of poverty.

The women are organized in groups of ten with a group leader. Loans are repaid weekly to the group leader. Because of this social process, their loan payback record is over 99%. More than 90% of the women that they have trained have started a business. Through this process, Mamamoni has been able to train more than 4,000 women. This allows them to feed, clothe and educate their children.

Note: Nigeria is one of several countries in which a person’s surname (family name) is mentioned before their first name. Okocha is her surname. Nkem is her first name. While it might be a bit confusing for some, in this interview, I say her name in the preferred order.

Advice to Break the Cycle of Poverty

Nkem advises, “Start small. Don’t wait. I was waiting until I had millions. I always thought you had to have a lot of money before impacting people. But when I saw that, these people really needed my help, I just started with what I had. If you’re going to start, start with what you have. It might be your talent. It might be your time. As you go on, things will begin to fall in place.”

 Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Okocha Nkem

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We are solving the problem of poverty and access to finance.’ Okocha Nkem, @mobilewomenbiz”]

“Going to school, feeding, was a very big challenge for us.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I said to myself, how many people can I help?’ Okocha Nkem, @mobilewomenbiz“]

“As I was growing up, I had to learn many skills.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Lucky for us, they saw our track record.’ Okocha Nkem, @mobilewomenbiz“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I knew this was what I wanted to do.’ Okocha Nkem, @mobilewomenbiz“]

“She has eight children. Some of them are in school now.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Start small. Don’t wait.’ Okocha Nkem, @mobilewomenbiz“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Start with what you have.’ Okocha Nkem, @mobilewomenbiz“]

“I used what I had to do what I wanted to do. Then the funders started coming.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘No woman chooses to be poor, but we can help poor women by investing in them.’ Okocha Nkem, @mobilewomenbiz“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

 

The Freedom Journal

Have you set big goals for 2017? I know I have. But have you tried setting goals in the past, only to come up short? Here is a tool to help you accomplish your biggest goal in only 100 days: The Freedom Journal. The Freedom Journal, is a stunning, hardcover Journal that will guide you in the accomplishment of your #1 goal in 100 days. The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail.

Grab the Freedom Journal Here: http://tonyloyd.com/journal.

10% of all sales goes to supporting the podcast Social Entrepreneur, but only if you use this link.

146, Gayathri Vasudevan, LabourNet | Sustainable Livelihoods through Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship

LabourNet is a social enterprise that enables sustainable livelihoods by bridging the gap between education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Gayathri Vasudevan, LabourNet | Sustainable Livelihoods through Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship

Gayathri Vasudevan of LabourNet

Gayathri Vasudevan worked in crisis situations. She provided humanitarian aid during a riot. She provided aid in the aftermath of an earthquake. But she found the work depressing. “I wanted to do more solutioning,” she told me.

After completing her PhD, she worked for the United Nations, International Labor Organization for eight years. There, she saw a disconnect between the policies she was helping to draft and the results on the ground. She remarked, “In India, we’re very good at white papers. We can write very well. We define everything well. But our execution didn’t work.”

A thought occurred to her. “What if we’re able to combine private sector acumen and way of doing business, with a policy thought process which the states and the UN have, and ensure the execution of the same on the ground?” This combination of business, policy and execution led her to create LabourNet.

LabourNet is a social enterprise that enables sustainable livelihoods by bridging the gap between education, employment and entrepreneurship. They work primarily in India with informal sector workers. They are the largest social enterprise working in the vocational space in India. The challenge, as Gayathri sees it, is that “There are a lot of people in India who do not complete education.” This keeps many stuck in poverty.  “Most people get a job, but are underemployed,” Gayathri explains.

LabourNet works with families who earn around 15,000 – 20,000 rupees per month. That’s around $250 for a family of five, or less than $2/person/day. LabourNet works with men, women and youth.

Their work with men primarily involves migrant men who come in from the rural areas to earn money and to send it home. LabourNet makes them productive, by providing skills so that they can earn better.

Their work with women is largely in the urban areas. Because women are often expected to be at home, and therefore do not earn money, many are at risk of a single catastrophic event sending them into poverty. LabourNet provides them with skills so that they have a chance to earn through a business or job.

When it comes to young people, many are completing high school, and then entering college. They aspire to a professional career. Many of these young people do not see many of the jobs available as something that an educated youth would do. LabourNet helps them to learn new skills quickly so that they can earn.

According to Gayathri, there is no tradition of re-skilling in India. LabourNet provides a path for anyone to learn a new skill in a module, without making a multi-year commitment. Gayathri has a message. “It’s all right if you dropped out of school. It’s all right if you finished school but haven’t got a skill. You can come and learn a skill. And you don’t have to do it in two years.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Gayathri Vasudevan

“There are a lot of people in India who do not complete education.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Most people get a job, but are underemployed.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet”]

“Five people in a family with less than $250/month.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We are looking for people at the base of the pyramid.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

“The men that we work with are mostly migrant men.”

“Our focus is to see that they earn better, so you train them to be more productive.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘One event in their life and they are in deep poverty.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

“They see those jobs as not things educated youth have to do.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘They are practically a lost generation.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

“The last five years have been revolutionary in the vocational skills space in India.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘You can learn and earn.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

“I attempted to work in crisis situations. It was too depressing.”

“I wanted to do more solutioning.”

“What India is very good at is policy making.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Our goals are social.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

“We are attempting to make it profitable, but serving the base of the pyramid.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I had to reinvent the story a few times.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I’ve had to learn how to run a business.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘My own education journey has been long and tough.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘It’s been a roller coaster ride.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

“I hope the model is a model that others will want to replicate.”

“For me, LabourNet is a concept that needs to be replicated.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Whatever is your mission, you have to stick by it.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I have been told often that I’m quite stubborn.’ Gayathri Vasudevan, @labournet“]

“Patience, time, persistence, you have to listen, but take the decision at the end.”

“I’d like to see more people thinking vocational education, upskilling and reskilling.”

“You have to give them the skill to earn. That’s the best charity one can do.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

The Freedom Journal

Have you set big goals for 2017? I know I have. But have you tried setting goals in the past, only to come up short? Here is a tool to help you accomplish your biggest goal in only 100 days: The Freedom Journal. The Freedom Journal, is a stunning, hardcover Journal that will guide you in the accomplishment of your #1 goal in 100 days. The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail.

Grab the Freedom Journal Here: http://tonyloyd.com/journal.

10% of all sales goes to supporting the podcast Social Entrepreneur, but only if you use this link.

036, Teju Ravilochan Unreasonable Institute | Providing Entrepreneurs What They Need to Scale Impact

In many ways Teju Ravilochan’s story is the story of many immigrant families. His parents were born in India, but he was born in the United States. His parents learned how to adapt to their new culture through their own experience but also through the experiences of their children. Teju also learned about the world through the eyes of his parents.

It was on a trip to India as a young man when Teju saw someone around his age who was begging for money. He was confronted with the sad reality of the “birth lottery,” the fact that the circumstances in which a person is born can influence the economic opportunities available to him or her. To Teju, that seemed unfair. And yet, trying to take on global poverty almost felt like an impossible task. He wondered if there weren’t a place where people could learn to tackle tough social and environmental challenges. This thought was the seed from which the Unreasonable Institute was born.

The Unreasonable Institute is a mentorship and training program for entrepreneurs who are tackling social and environmental problems. Several times a year, at several global locations, Unreasonable brings about two dozen social entrepreneurs to a single living space, where they provide them with over 50 world-class mentors and about as many funders and investors. Unreasonable provides the knowledge, tools and resources that help social entrepreneurs to start quickly and scale their impact. They have locations in east Africa and Mexico. They also offer Unreasonable Labs, a 5-day experience. Their vision is to create 100 Unreasonable Institutes in 100 countries.

What are the results? Well, the first 150 mentors that they worked with have raised over $90 million in funding and have impacted more than 8 million lives.

Key quotes from the interview:

“That felt so sad to me. The world is unequal by virtue of luck. And the people who can help don’t help because it seems impossible to solve that problem.”

“My education was relatively abstract. It was focused on the problems. It wasn’t focused on what we could do about them.”

“We were exposed to approaches that were ineffective because they were treating poor people like victims.”

“Some of the approaches we saw that were advancing populations forward were treating poor people, not as victims, but as people who could solve their own problems.”

“Last year we reached 158 startups, which were equivalent to the number of startups we reached in all the previous years that we’ve been in operation.”

“I believe that there are two primary forces that really change the world. One of them is experimentation. The other is the organization of people.”

“We look for ventures that create what we call profound impact.”

“I would encourage everybody to formulate an 8-word mission statement which consists of a verb, a target population and an outcome.”

“Our mission is, get entrepreneurs what they need to scale impact.”

Resources:

036, Teju Ravilochan Unreasonable Institute | Providing Entrepreneurs What They Need to Scale Impact