projecteverest

HANDOVER Social Consulting Fiji July 2017

Social consultancy experienced a whirlwind of a month, with many triumphs. The project started with a slight lack of direction, given the nature of the project was to seek out any opportunities that could empower small business owners in the greater Sigatoka area. Nonetheless, the project was (we believe) a success as we are confident that we have created a business plan that could improve the profitability, sustainability and scale of small to medium business owners in Fiji and beyond.

There were a couple of key cornerstones in the month:


1) Fijian Business Culture: It didn’t take us long for us to figure out the importance of this. Fiji has an overarching culture which omits happiness and friendliness. However, this translates to a business culture which is relaxed and doesn’t incite competition. Thus, the market is not as efficient as the western world. Further, there is a stigma around business and especially finances of the business, where many are deterred by perception of difficulty.

2) Education vs Consultancy: After our first week of investigation, we stumbled upon our first big realisation of the month. This realisation was that consultancy provides business solutions which help in the short term, but does not get to the root of the problem. After our consultancy services are finished with the client, they would most likely encounter another problem with which they need more consultancy services. Thus, the team decided to investigate into providing business education and mentoring services to our clients. The Social Consultancy team tested these services of the clients of our key stakeholders, the Advisory council and South Pacific Business Development.

2) South Pacific Business Development (SPBD): South Pacific Business Development are a multinational organisation that provide microfinance loans to women who own or wish to generate small businesses. By the end of Week 1, we had a signed Memorandum of Understanding with SPBD, which in Fiji is a partnership agreement. This MOU allowed us to have access to some of the ‘Centre’ meetings, where the officers collect the weekly repayments and offer some (but not much) business advice. Maintaining this relationship with SPBD is essential as they have a foot in the door in many of these communities, and there is potential for them to outsource their consultancy/educational needs to Project Everest to increase the reach of the business.

3) Business Idea:
SoCon will offer two pathways, both with the goal of increasing access to information so that we can empower small business owners to improve their business practices. The process is this:
1) Client Acquisition Process: This needs work. Whether clients are referred to us through word of mouth, our partners or we reach out to our clients, is yet to be fully decided.

2) Client Screening: Through an interview process, we judged the suitability of our client to receive either mentoring/training or a tailored consultancy report.
3) Client Referral to our:

              a) Educational/Mentoring program
             
b) Consultancy services

 

The Social Consulting team for July had an enjoyable month, and we believe there is a promising future for this project.


Written by Nate Lucas, Team Leader of July Fiji Social Consulting Team

 

Photo credit: Lexie Yuan

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