Project Everest

Work Update

Update – Social consulting – Fiji, 2 weeks in!

by
Maxine Richard
Maxine Richard | Feb 10, 2017 | in Knowledge Base

Bula!

 

Over the course of the last two weeks our team has both done and learnt a lot, this post is to give you all an idea of what exactly we’ve been up to!

 

The first thing to note is that the focus of our project has drastically changed direction since the last group of trekkers were here in December, to the extent that it cannot be related to the work that was done on Micro-Enterprise 2 (Research). Accordingly, the name of our venture has been changed to Social Consulting.

 

Our project is now a prototype for Project Everest where the goal is to show the Fijian government that we can have a positive impact on the lives of Fijians. In order to prove this we are working with individuals on a pro bono basis, providing them with advice and helping them establish businesses that they want to set up but do not have the resources (financial, business knowledge, etc.) to implement without help. The long term goal is for Fijians to pay for this social consulting service. 

 

Our group is both large and very excited about this project. These two factors have had a massive impact on the insane level of hustling that I’ve seen from my fellow trekkers over the course of the last two weeks. As our project started in the empathy stage of the design thinking process, we spent a large amount of our time interviewing both potential clients and government officials, in search of at least one individual who we could help. Many BMCs and pros and cons lists were created while our team worked to fully grasp each person’s business idea, long term and short term plans and tried to determine how we could help them reach their potential.

This week we came to a decision and chose the people we are going to work with for the remainder of the month.

Our first client, Tui, is a retired professional boxer who has a long term goal of owning his own gym and running a boxing academy. He has planted 105 sandalwood trees and is planning on selling these to international buyers in order to finance his dream. In the short run, he has started giving people lessons in order to keep himself afloat. This is the business we are helping him with.

Keni and Fipe are our husband and wife duo. Between the two of them they have plethora of business ideas – from running a canteen (read convenience store, though they are often just a cupboard full of tinned food, lollies, etc.) to opening a home sewing business.

Tui, Fipe and Keni are very community oriented and plan to help out underprivileged youths and widows respectively.

Our final client, Adi, has a four-bedroom house on the beach and would like to rent out one of the rooms in a manner similar to Airbnb.

 

In our quest to find these people, we held many interviews and obtained a greater understanding of Fijians and their way of thinking and living. Two key lessons that affect the way we approach our project are as follows:  

Small scale is still too big: Many people here have business ideas that have potential, however we need to be careful when we pitch ideas to them as their interpretation of small business is very different to ours. When we think of a canteen (aka convenience store of sorts) for example, we think of a store with suppliers whereas they think of a cupboard in their house from which they can sell things to their neighbours. Thus, where a store would be the first step in Australia, here it would be the last step, the goal reached after a number of years. We need to be aware of this difference in scale so as not to scare our clients.

Facebook: Some people do not have phones or internet and yet they have Facebook! Many villages are not present on Google Maps, however their Facebook page is active. As such we have learnt that Facebook forms an important tool through which we can reach people on behalf of our clients.

 

Though somewhat unrelated to Fijian culture, another important lesson we’ve learnt is that the scope of our project is constantly adapting to mirror the progress that our group is making – expect the unexpected is very real!

 

In the coming week we plan to progress the businesses of our chosen individuals by expanding their client bases through social media and internet in general. We will also meet with them and go through the business proposals and cost benefit analyses that are being prepared for them by my teammates as I type this.

Stay tuned for more updates!

 

Vinaka!

Amber Johnston Jun 20, 2017

Status changed to Previous Work

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