I recently got asked this in a conversation with a friend who was wondering whether cash grants are the right thing for Oshede to do.
So after sending them a link to the research, I informed them that equipping recipients was part of the plan. All the people who get accepted onto our initiative will be put on a program that will work with them through their various challenges, and help them develop a workable plan towards financial independence.
But, one important thing social enterprises and charities miss when working with people in deprived parts of the world is this: You can’t give someone who is hungry today a book about how they can be fed tomorrow. You cant tell someone who needs help now, to undertake a 24 week course that will help them find a job, and some time after that begin to earn money. It doesn’t work because the person is hungry now. This very moment.
If you really want to help them, then you must feed them first, and put their house in order as the very first intervention.
Only when they are at rest, and you’ve removed their immediate worries, will they be receptive to an intervention with long-term benefits. In any case, a ‘hungry person’ will continually be distracted by their pertinent and immediate needs, so any talk of sustainability at that early stage is not only impractical but a bit premature.
Closely related to this issue is the reasons many micro-enterprise fail.
One of the reasons Micro enterprises fail is because NGOs try to select an idea or venture for the recipient, which can cause problems for a number of reasons.
Firstly, if someone else has chosen your business idea for you, you’re probably not going to be as passionate about it than if you chose it yourself.
Secondly, because someone else has chosen the micro-enterprise concept for you, you probably don’t know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the sector or trade to the required depth for you to be able to make it work in the long term.
This means you may not have certain industry knowledge which is critical for the successful operation of your venture.
Finally, when hard times come, because the business is not something you are passionate about, it will be harder for you to gather the internal personal strength to push through the hard times.
This is why with Oshede, we’ll work with ideas that are selected by the recipients themselves. Instead of imposing an idea, we’ll sharpen the recipient’s own idea, find the weak spots, and patch up those faultlines into something that has potential. That’s how you minimise failure rates.