Grow Movement and the Rapidly Changing World
By Zoe Lawson
As 2020 gets going and we enter a new decade, we’re becoming more aware than ever of the challenges facing humankind.
Recently, the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting was held in Davos, Switzerland, where the theme was ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’. Of the six key areas of priority for the future of the planet (Ecology, Economy, Technology, Society, Geopolitics and Industry), Grow Movement is well-placed to engage with at least four.
‘Society’ stands out as being particularly relevant and pertinent. It specifically highlights the question of how to reskill and upskill a billion people in the next decade. In developing economies where formal and especially higher education is often not available to large parts of the population, Grow Movement’s work in matching volunteer business consultants with local small business owners and entrepreneurs, responds to this is a practical way.
The research study conducted in Uganda provided tangible proof that Grow Movement’s business model works. This method of ‘upskilling’ local people through the sharing of practical business knowledge has rapid and measurable results on societies. Entrepreneurs who worked with Grow Movement business consultants increased their monthly sales by 27%, and for those whose business lacked a strategy at the start of the project, monthly sales increased by 55%. Increased profits mean that local markets are developed, local economies are boosted, jobs are created and ultimately, societies are improved for all.
So, it’s clear that Grow Movement’s work will be needed more than ever as the 2020s progress.
What about ‘Economy’? Grow Movement contributes to ‘removing the long-term debt burden and keeping the economy working at a pace that allows higher inclusion’ by stimulating local economies. Our engagement with entrepreneurs leads to increased business generation, increased profits and new job creation.
‘Industry’ is another area of the WEF’s future focus that aligns with the work of Grow Movement. The WEF want to know ‘How to help business create the models necessary to drive enterprise in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. How to navigate an enterprise in a world exposed to political tensions and driven by exponential technological change as well as increasing expectations from all stakeholders’. For those of not familiar with the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, it refers to the current/forthcoming age of interconnected technological innovation (following on from the original industrial revolution of 1784, the second of mass production and the third of the digital age).
Although Grow Movement operates in developing nations, the digital divide is closing and demand for network technologies such as smartphones in such places is huge. Grow Movement business consultants can help local entrepreneurs learn about and leverage the power of these tools. A case study example of this is Chikondi Mthethe, a Ugandan entrepreneur who set up a local guesthouse. With the help of her Grow Movement mentor, she was able to develop her online business presence and market to an international audience using collaborative virtual platforms such as Air BnB. Within six months she was at full occupancy and digital booking platforms formed a key part of her customer acquisition strategy.
How does Grow Movement’s work align with the some of the other areas of priority identified by the WEF? We are all aware of how urgent the priority of ‘Ecology’ now is. The WEF wants to mobilise business to respond to the risks of climate change and this offers an opportunity for Grow Movement to contribute to positive change. But how exactly? By assisting small business owners located in the places most likely to feel the full force of the impending climate crisis, to create environmentally sustainable business models, and take account of relevant climate issues at inception.
We live in interesting times and the world is rapidly changing. Unless humans make a conscious effort to address the serious issues facing our planet, we risk an uncertain and possibly very bleak future. With collective action, individual efforts are amplified and together we can effect positive change. Grow Movement will take an active role in this; by upskilling motivated people in the most precarious parts of the world to start environmentally sustainable businesses, create jobs and stimulate their local economies.
Watch this space for more on Grow Movement’s work and objectives for 2020 and beyond.
21 February 2020
Zoe Lawson is a social entrepreneur with an interest in translating innovations for international development. She has a PhD in biological chemistry and an MBA, and has been involved with Grow Movement since 2015 as a volunteer consultant and supporter.