Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Value addition of Entrepreneurial Capacity building

The word 'Capacity building' is no more exciting in the development sector. Common question - how are these capacity building workshops truly add the value?
A compelling story was found in Sri Lanka, with Sarvodaya/Fusion (www.fusion.lk). The value addition was done by another non-traditional partner; NESsT (Non-profit Enterprise and Self-sustainability Team: www.nesst.org). NESsT engagement with Fusion (facilitated by telecentre.org) was to support the telecentre family project (www.tcf.lk), which is a network of telecentre operators collaborated by Sarvodaya (NGO; www.sarvodaya.org) and ICTA (State institution; www.icta.lk).
How did they impact up on Sarvodaya telecentre network?By the time NESsT was landing in Sri Lanka, telecentre network of Sarvodaya - Fusion was undergoing a tough challenge - the common one to many networks; how to sustain their growing telecentre network, under ever increasing management cost (utility bills, maintenance, staff, etc.).?
Out of 31 telecentre in operation, Fusion was planning to close down 10 of them. But NESsT capacity building workshop shifted the decision 180degrees! Just after 6 months, Fusion set an ambitious target of 10mil Rs annual turn over.
What was the trick?
NESsT's capacity building workshop provided the missing ingredients to the already entrepreneurial Fusion team. They had been running telecentres as decentralized operations for nearly 10 years. But, not as a properly coordinated, business operation.
What were the key decisions?
  • a competent business manager was introduced to the central operation as an advisor (not as an overall manager)
  • participatory planning were carried out to study the feasible services / products
  • business plans were developed for each and every telecentre
  • financial targets were set against each telecentre
  • coordination systems were put in place to monitor the progress weekly basis
  • help desks were rejuvenated

The operational progress reached by the overall network for first two months of operation reported to be nearly 50% (against the set targets). But financial recovery is still less than 15%.

At this moment of time, they are attending to 'mid course corrections' to fine tune the lose elements of the operation (for eg quick attendance to computer breakdowns at telecentres).

Small presence of NESsT did a magic..!

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