Filed under: Africa, Asia, Background, Blog, Cambodia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Latin America, Malawi, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Rhode Island, Rwanda, Stanford, Thailand, Uganda, Uncategorized
Happy new year! Ten years ago this week the seed for the Barefoot MBA was planted. Though our updates to have been less frequent, our mission continues. As always, we welcome updates on how you’ve used or hope to use our materials.
We recently made a small loan to Lisney, a dressmaker in Colombia, so she could buy a sewing machine and expand her business. But this was no ordinary loan.
In the early days of the Barefoot MBA, we frequently explained our vision with a hypothetical story about a sewing machine. Imagine, we would say, that you are a skilled sewer. Your family’s financial future depends on your small sewing business. You sew a few pairs of pants per day, earning barely enough to cover your costs and taking home very little. You borrow money for a sewing machine, thinking that will allow you to sew more pants. It does. But the sales don’t come. It soon becomes clear that the market is not large enough to support another pants business. Now, you have to repay your debt in addition to supporting your family.
What if this situation could be avoided? What if the entrepreneur in this case understood the relationship between price and supply? What if she used the same machine to instead make shirts if that’s what the market was missing? Understanding basic concepts could empower even the world’s smallest entrepreneurs to make better business decisions and provide better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.
Nine years ago, we conceptualized the Barefoot MBA to do just that. A few months later, we created the sewing machine example to illustrate our idea to a community of leading social entrepreneurs. Recently, we stumbled upon Lisney. And couldn’t wait to help.
We are proud to give with purpose to help Lisney fund her loan. We are pleased to count Kiva, Lisney’s lender, among our early supporters. We are heartened to see that Kiva has a partner in Lisney’s case that provides business training.
Thank you, Lisney, for making our hypothetical story a reality heading toward a happier ending. Happy new year.
Filed under: Africa, Asia, Background, Blog, Cambodia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Latin America, Malawi, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Rhode Island, Rwanda, Thailand, Uganda
Five years ago this week we piloted the Barefoot MBA with villagers near Lamplaimat, Thailand. The world has seen plenty of progress since then: Five Nobel Peace Prize winners. Two new countries. The birth of the world’s seven billionth baby. The Barefoot MBA has seen plenty of progress since then too: eight published adaptations in five languages. Reaching every inhabited continent. A thriving tool, largely without our direct support. We can’t promise to become the next Nobel Laureates or reach all seven billion people in all 195 countries, but five years of progress in basic business education is a pretty good start.
The Barefoot MBA is a tool we created in 2007 to teach basic business to anyone, anywhere through a collection of modular, adaptable lessons. After a successful pilot that summer, we started spreading the Barefoot MBA. We continue to run it as a labor of love.
In five years, we’ve supported adaptations and implementations in nine countries: Cambodia, Guatemala, Kenya, Nicaragua, Philippines, Rwanda, Thailand, Uganda and the United States. In addition, we’ve heard about adaptations and implementations in India, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda. Adaptations are underway in at least three other countries. And that’s just what we know about. We regularly hear anecdotes of others spreading the word about, if not also using, our open-source tool. The nature of our work makes an exact number impossible to pinpoint, but we know we have reached several tens of thousands of people around the world.
We’ve presented to leaders in social entrepreneurship. We’ve been covered by local and national media. The founder of the Thai NGO that incubated our pilot even mentioned us in his TED talk (starting around 10:45).
Our social media efforts on Facebook (become a fan!) and Twitter (become a follower!) continue to expand our reach. Our blog-turned-website continues to get hits from every inhabited continent, and we continue to update it with anecdotes and adaptations.
We look forward to more progress in the next five years.
Filed under: Africa, Asia, Blog, Cambodia, Kenya, Latin America, Malawi, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Rhode Island, Rwanda, Thailand, Uganda
Four years ago this month we first piloted the Barefoot MBA. Since then we’ve expanded from 1 country to 12 (that we know of), 2 creators to countless partners and volunteers. We’ve reached people on every inhabited continent, including thousands of participants. Some of their stories are below; many don’t reach us. And we’re still serious about our lofty-sounding goal to reach anyone, anywhere.
So we begin our fifth year not with another recap of how far we’ve come but with a plea to you, our readers, for two things:
- Website redesign and relaunch: Our blog-turned-website was adequate in the Barefoot MBA’s infancy, but a well-designed, robust site could help expand our reach
- Adaptation and translation assistance: Our curriculum can go only as far as it’s understood, which for now means locations that can leverage existing adaptations. Spending a few days in local markets should generate enough information for a new adaptation, and fluency in local language means translation should take no more than a few hours
If you’d like to help, or know someone who might, please comment on this post or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to another productive year ahead!
Filed under: Africa, Asia, Blog, India, Kenya, Latin America, Malawi, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Thailand, Uganda
Four years ago this week we conceived of the Barefoot MBA idea, determined to create a workable curriculum for the Thai social enterprise that inspired our work and wondering aloud what our creation would look like in Africa, where we saw indisputable need but no opportunity to make it there.
In 2010, we made it – to no fewer than seven African countries. In Kenya and Rwanda this summer, Katherine ran workshops with two partner organizations, Maker Faire Africa and Gardens for Health International. (The latter loosely translated Barefoot MBA into the local language as rwiyemeza mikimo w’ikirenga utagira n’inkweto, which literally means a master good entrepreneur with no shoes on.) Other organizations adapted the Barefoot MBA in Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda, and at least two more are working with it in southern Africa.
The lion’s share of these new partnerships sought us out, not the other way around.
In addition, we continue to hear encouraging reports from existing partners. For example, a Philippine partner rolled out the Barefoot MBA to up to 21,590 clients by August, a year after our train-the-trainers workshop and pilot. That’s a staggering number, especially in the wake of the country’s devastating typhoons.
Oh, and the Thai social entrepreneur who inspired the Barefoot MBA four years ago this week? He mentions us in his TED talk (starting around 10:45).
Our social media efforts on Facebook (become a fan!) and Twitter continue to expand our reach. Our blog-turned-website continues to get hits from every inhabited continent, and we continue to update it with anecdotes and adaptations. We continue to hear of others using the Barefoot MBA around the world and look forward to more stories and success in 2011.
Happy new year!
After four weeks of classes, the first Barefoot MBA course in Nicaragua wrapped up with great success. Amy-Ruth and Enrique write:
The last week of the course was great fun. We did a 2 part class of Profits and Planning-Recording. There were a few keen learners in this and you could hear the clogs turning in their heads! At one point Marco, who I was sitting next to and is a 63 year old ex-farmer turned café owner, said ‘yo entiendo’ meaning, ‘I understand’. That was something pretty cool I thought. He was trying to work out that, if he makes a 300% profit on the ingredients of his drinks then why isn’t he a millionaire by now… The class were put to the task of working this out and answers started flying our way ‘because he has to pay rent’ was one response ‘because you need to have electricity to keep ice frozen’ was another response and they kept coming until we had filled the board. Profit became something different for everybody I think.
In the class of Planning and Recording the students were a bit apprehensive. Some struggle to read and write and I think that the idea of recording anything on paper is a bit scary to some. The examples made it easy to see the value in it but it was when Enrique put a real example on the board of the sewing ladies and things fell into place. You know that there’s real interest when Silvia asked if she could please have a piece of paper so she could copy the example. That is the first time I have heard that here! I said we can do better than that and I presented everyone with their very own records book! Not the most exciting gift in the world but you should have seen their faces, it was classic! I think that it is not the value of the book, as that is only about $1, but it is the value of what they now know they can do with it that is worth so much.
Thank you very much to the Barefoot MBA team of Katherine and Scott for your help and your support. When we were looking at developing some sort of business course, the idea was just daunting! Then we came across your program and we have been excited about it ever since. Thank you again.
Our partner in Nicaragua, Casas de la Esperanza, held another Barefoot MBA class last night. Amy-Ruth writes:
The group used lots of local examples which was great and captured everyones interest. Things like the cost of producing ‘fresco’, of making a pair of ‘pantalones’, creating ‘anillos’ and selling mobile phone top-ups. Having a good activity is key to everyone learning and enjoying themselves.
As we are going on further everyone is coming out of their shells a lot more, feeling comfortable with each other and with us too. One of the real benefits that we could see is that the members of the class will feel comfortable to ask the other members, in the future, for business help or advice.
We have also found that the more active we can keep everyone, the better. Nicaraguans are very expressive people and, although the group isn’t great with understanding the numbers side of business they love to act out situations. In the class we try and incorporate the hard figures of business while also adding a big element of activity and team work.
Note the children in the background of the photo below. As Amy-Ruth says, “here you can’t have a class without the kids coming too!” We look forward to more updates soon.