Saturday Sessions – Part 1

On Saturday we facilitated our first 2 groups which was a fantastic feeling. It’s been about 7 months in the making so I was delighted. It feels like a huge step forward. The classes went really well although we had different challenges with each group.

The first group we worked with in the morning was called Salgaa Sparks. In the room there were 15-20 people so it was a big group. We started by introducing ourselves and our aims and asking them why they were there and what they hoped to get out of the sessions. Then I spent about 20 minutes introducing this great tool to map out a business called the business model canvas and talking them through a few local businesses to help them grasp it. We would normally introduce this tool much later in the course. But on this occasion we decided start with it because we intend to work with this group for a shorter time because they are far out of town and also because they already have a business idea.

They picked up the concept very fast and soon were sketching out different business models for a cow (a task we set). Two of the groups chose the common idea of selling milk but what was great was they thought about how they could make their businesses unique and how they would offer value to the customers. One group talked about a local milk delivery business “from the cow to the house” while the other focused on hygiene and also thought a lot about the by-products and getting maximum value out of these.

It was, however, the third group that really wowed up. Rather than launching into the conventional businesses they brainstormed all the different uses of a cow – alive and dead. They came up with 20-30 ideas and then did something really really impressive. They thought about the different ideas and considered which would maximise their revenue. They concluded they would start a bull fighting business. They would train bulls and then put on fights and sell out stadiums. Their idea was even more impressive because bull fighting can only be seen in Western Kenya where it is hugely popular so it’s possible that bull fighting in the Rift Valley and Nairobi could be a hugely successful venture. Each group presented their ideas for 5 minutes and we have some video and pictures of these to upload shortly.

We spent the final part of the session getting them to map out their business idea. In their town there is no rubbish collection so they want to start one where they charge and then recycle some of the rubbish for extra revenue (selling glass, making manure and pig feed etc.) Instead of mapping out the whole business we got them to focus initially on the value proposition and customer segment. We gave them homework to go out and test these assumptions for the next session. So as we speak they should be talking to hotels, businesses, households etc. and testing whether these potential customers are interested in the service they propose to offer.

As a final word, in this session there were a few individuals at the start who were pretty disinterested, texting on their phones and not really engaging. Perhaps the most satisfying thing of all was that all of these young Kenyans were by the end having fun and fully engaged in the tasks. In particular there was one young man who I heard saying 5 minutes in that he wanted to leave. By the end, though, he was presenting for his group, leading the discussions and making a plan for how they would conduct the market research before the next session.