Sarah, Margot, Refilwe and Han queen were students from Northwestern University who participated on FSD Fall II 2020 virtual internship. They were placed to work with Sustain Microenterprise (SME) as their host organization. SME is an organization working to transform the lives of vulnerable women and families out of poverty. The students had an interest in assisting a group of 20 women from the Nyenga region in boosting business for so that they are able to earn a living from their businesses.
During the community assessment, the main issues identified were low levels of profit and a lack of access to markets. In response to the first issue, collaboration was identified as a possible opportunity to both cut costs and increase revenue by allowing the women group to split costs and increase their individual customer bases.
With support from SME staff team, the students started a project aimed at building comprehensive collaboration curriculum culminating in a group market day with the ultimate goal of encouraging collaboration within the group.
The interns empowered the women with collaboration knowledge and skills in business which changed the mindset of the women in business thus making more sales and profits. Through implementing four educational sessions aimed at demonstrating the value of collaboration for the women, many members of the group identified opportunities to collaborate with one another to increase their profits in the future.
At implementation stage the interns suggested the idea of the market day, an opportunity for the women can come together to sell their goods. This would be community event organized by the women group to create awareness in the community about the women businesses. It would be an exciting and engaging event, the women were able to demonstrate their ability to have impact on their community, while also giving them the opportunity to interact directly with elected officials and share their stories for future advocacy
The suggestion of the market day was followed by culmination of the training intended to both encourage collaboration and increase the women group’s access to markets. A group of 5 women were elected from the group in various positions to spearhead the organization of the market day activity.
The women will be able to sustain their businesses through collaboration which they are practicing in their businesses already. By deferring to the planning group on the planning of the day the loan group has gained the skills necessary to implement a similar event again in the future.