Project Everest

Social Consultancy or Educational Platform? A piece on some issues that have arisen in the July Project

The Social Consultancy team this month has already achieved some great feats, however has run into a number of issues. These issues are based around the feasibility of providing consultancy services in a very unique country.

The team faces a significant barrier to providing a consultancy service: culture. When you provide a service, you have to understand the people you are providing that service to, and thus you have to have an in depth understanding of that culture. 

After signing a Memorandum of Understanding to run a trial period with South Pacific Business Development, some of the officers allowed us to sit in on their meetings with women who they were offering microfinance loans to. The meetings that were held allowed them to count their repayments, offer some (but not any that we saw) business advice and offer more loans. First issue: gaining access to those villages without express permission of the Chief/headman.
The next issue is trust. After sitting in the meeting, there was an extremely comfortable and relaxed feeling about it. Everyone was happy, they were cooperative, they fed us some Cava. They were content. From first impression, they didn't need our consultancy services. The services that SPBD provided were enough.

However, this motivated (most of) the team and particularly myself to look towards a potentially new idea: an online educational platform that could be offered in conjunction with microfinance organisations such as SPBD, which specialise in providing the specific training and skills required to generate and sustain a business. The team is in very early stages of this thinking process.

I would appreciate any insight or comments!

Nate Lucas
Team Leader, Social Consultancy, July 2017

Georgie Scott Jul 11, 2017

We will definitely need to reconnect with Virgin Group to see if they have any updates on the development of their online educational platform. Perhaps we can also explore other organisations that offer such a service.

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William Lee Jul 13, 2017

Love the idea of an online platform mate. But surely there are many existing online platforms that offer business training. The question then is: how do you make it tailored to the culture and environment?

I reckon your competitive advantage is in adjusting financing rates across projects based on a business model created through the online platform. By measuring risk through this platform you'd not only help them build more complete business ideas, but also help manage the business risk and Sales/Revs (and hence repayment risk), which would then lower the interest rate being offered.

I'd also be interested to know the current interest rates being charged for these loans. Is there a possibility of pooling finance across projects which are negatively correlated and use that to diversify risk away?

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Nate/ Nathan Lucas Jul 13, 2017

So just to clarify, the service we would provide in conjunction with a bank/microfinancier assists them adjust their interest rates? In regards to the online platform, do you mean that we create an educational platform or business model and then the client must adhere to it? I apologise for the confusion.

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