PROJECT UMUBANO: Business training in Sierra Leone by Andy Higginson

The business team (Jonathan, Fola and myself) carried out training to young Sierra Leone entrepreneurs at Waterloo a few miles outside Freetown. The team carried training for one week as part of a two month programme organised by Restless Development to develop the business skills of sixty young adults in the Waterloo area to help them set up and develop their own businesses. The team drew on our own business experiences and provided training in marketing, business development, financial planning, bookkeeping and business plans. The students were very keen to learn and enthusiastic and a good rapport emerged from the start.

Some students had already set up their businesses, others were making their plans. There was a wide range of fledgling businesses including tailoring, mobile phones, pig farming, baking, printing and making bags. All students prepared a business plan and the team reviewed and advised on a selection of the plans. The programme helped to develop some skills and many of the businesses will succeed. Some trainees from previous programmes are already trading successfully and the enthusiasm and effort shown by many students will give them a good start in their business careers.

We all thoroughly enjoyed the experience which was hard work but very fulfilling. It was literally a joy to work with the friendly students who were desperately keen to learn. Friendships were made and ongoing contact and advice is continuing with some of the students. Restless Development will provide financial support to the businesses most likely to succeed.