Business for transformation
‘There are many people living on the street because it is difficult to find jobs,’ says Artur*, leader of a community group in the Central Asian States. ‘People come from the villages to the capital and face many problems. They start drinking – young people on the street drink a lot and in the winter many people die. We wanted to help, but we did not know how.’
Business training and seed funding provided by Tearfund’s partner made it possible for Artur and his community group to establish several small enterprises including a carpentry workshop, beehives, an animal feed mill, a breeze-block press and poultry farms for egg production.
The profit from these initiatives helps the group to run five rehabilitation centres for people struggling with addiction, or who are newly out of prison. The businesses also provide opportunities for the residents to develop new skills and earn a small amount of money.
Leonid* manages one of the chicken farms. He says, ‘When my parents divorced I ended up on the street and made some bad friends. When I was 18 I committed crimes and was put in prison for eight years. After I was released I began to take drugs – first soft drugs and then heroin. I injected myself for seven years.
‘Then I met Artur and he helped me to get back on my feet. I do not use drugs or alcohol any more. I believe in myself now and I have new dreams for the future.’
Starting a business
Selling goods and services to raise funds for projects can be a good way to reduce reliance on donors. However, success depends on the market and this may change over time. Before starting, it is important to think through any risks and draw up a business plan. Most businesses will also need some start-up capital.
Below are four things to think about when selling a product. If you are selling a service (eg cleaning), the same principles can be applied.
- PRODUCT What are the benefits of the product you are selling? Is it good quality and well designed? Think about the equipment you will need and where you will make and store it. Who will be involved in the production process?
- PRICE Choose a fair price for the product. People will only buy it if the price is low enough, but you also need to cover your costs and make a profit.
- PLACE Think about where you will sell the product. How will you get it there?
- PROMOTION How will you tell people about the product and encourage them to buy it?
To find some of the answers to these questions, visit other businesses and markets and talk to potential customers. Start small with what you have available – eg skills, premises and materials – and build from there. Seek expert advice if you need it.
For more information about how to run a small business, see Footsteps 103: Entrepreneurship.