What Do I Know About Business?

This week I really started getting into my specific department more. I am working in the Urban Livelihood department which focuses on helping people overcome poverty by helping them develop successful sustainable businesses.

This week I went to two different meetings of participants of the program. These meetings are held in the slum where the different people live. So on Tuesday I went to the first meeting. This was a group of mostly women and a few men who get together each week to talk about issues and solutions to problems regarding their respective businesses. For the first meeting I was mostly a spectator. I watched as they talked passionately about their problems and worked towards bettering themselves.

KMET has helped these people by providing loans, start-up kits, vocational training, and teaching how to further an already existing business. They have helped the participants take a big step towards conquering poverty, but the job is not done yet. They struggle still with basic things like saving money. Within their group they have started a savings club where each member gives a certain amount each week to be put into a savings account. This is a good way for them to learn about good financial practices.

Sitting at the meeting, I asked myself, “How am I going to help this group?” I have never taken a business class. I’ve only been in Kenya three weeks, and I have never owned a small business. It didn’t seem like I am a very qualified person to give business advice and help them become more successful. But after sitting at the meeting for longer I realized that the group had the answer to their questions: collaboration. They have joined together to help each other through dialogue and support. Their passion drives them and through discussions with each other they are able to better themselves. I don’t need to teach a formal lesson, I just need to join in with the collaboration of the group. They don’t need me to be an outsider telling them what to do. By joining the group and participating in the dialogue, the learning will be a two way street. By joining the group I will be able to learn more from them than I could ever teach. Like I said, I don’t know much about business, so through collaboration with the group, together we will be able to answer questions and better the lives of everyone in the group, myself included.

Dan Rustico