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Tuesday 27 October 2015

Managing For Social Impact: a report from our MMK students (Uganda 2015 edition)

As part of the Managing for Social Impact module on the MSc in Marketing and Creativity, Aurélien Lemasson-Théobald was a member of a team of three ESCP Europe students who travelled to Uganda in the summer of 2015.

Their mission was work alongside one of our charity partners, The Great Generation, to help a small business in a developing economy by providing creativity marketing skills.

We asked Aurélien to share his experience in the field with us:

"I chose to travel to Uganda because I had never been in a Central African country, and it was synonymous with adventure for me.

"The social enterprise called The Great Generation brought together three people with complementary skills to provide Reach Out Mbuya with the support to address the need for increased financial self-sustainability. Started in 2001, Reach Out Mbuya is a Ugandan association that provides treatment and psychological support to HIV positive people. The association differs from others as it is community-faith based, meaning that 45% of the staff are customers of the association. Until 2010, being an association, the revenue depended on donations, with one donor in particular: USAID. However, the association decided to reduce its financial dependence and started to provide sewing and business training to its clients. As a result, it has been able to sell clothes, kitchen and home supplies to consumers as well as uniforms to schools, generating revenue on its own, through the income-generating entity: Roses of Mbuya.

"Still, it was not enough – and this is where we came in. The business model was poor and unoptimised in terms of costs, production, marketing and clients. In two weeks, we had to design a two-tier strategy to help them build a profitable and sustainable business model. Consequently, the entire first week was dedicated to staff interviews in order to perform a complete analysis of the cost/benefit structure and qualitative market research, so as to identify key areas for profit. At this point, we realised how strong the sense of community was: everybody was very keen to provide us with confidential data because they knew we were there to help. Everybody was easy to approach, which enabled us to establish a strong bond with them very quickly.

"The second week enabled us to identify two areas, school uniforms and clothes, for consumers. At this point, we ventured externally for interviews and negotiation! We spent the entire week interviewing current and potential school customers to find out about their satisfaction levels, or to see why they don’t buy uniforms from Roses of Mbuya. In addition, we conducted group interviews with the Parish community to find out about the level of awareness of both the association and how the revenue is spent. Based on this feedback, we designed two different strategies for both areas, with cost benefit analyses as well as governance and sustainability.

"I really enjoyed the invisibility of hierarchy in the association. Everyone is perceived as equal and that is something I think companies in developed countries should use as an example."

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