Leo Warburton travelled to Ghana to complete a ten week volunteering programme with Challenges Worldwide. The aim of the project was to help local businesses to develop their work through training, seminars and business management guidance. To be able to do this Leo applied for an Individual Grant for Volunteering from the Jack Petchey Foundation to put towards the costs for this once in a lifetime experience.
Leo’s time on the volunteering programme in Ghana was split up into three sections. He spent one week working on a consulting training programme, the next eight weeks consulting owners of a poultry farm to develop their revenue and business and then the final week helping out at local community events. Throughout the consulting programme, Leo was paired up with a Ghanaian volunteer who had a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science. This came in handy as they were assigned to a poultry farm for their project!
The project was created by Challenges Worldwide to offer help to local businesses, from implementing long-term planning strategies to helping with short-term objectives. Throughout the process, the volunteers were focused on the long-term environmental and social impact to the community, to make sure the work would be sustainable.
Once Leo had completed the week-long consulting training, he was able to work with the local poultry farm and suggest ways in which they could develop their business strategy. Not all of Leo’s business objectives were achieved, however, they were able to put real change into effect in three key areas: internal structure, production and sales. Those they were not able to implement were still discussed and a long-term plan has been put in place for the business to work towards achieving it in the future.
During the eight-week section, Leo and his fellow volunteer, produced an analysis of the business and its revenue. From this, they encouraged the owners to increase production by purchasing more equipment and to get in touch with new suppliers and customers. They also designed new marketing materials for the business to use, to help increase customer base. These changes will help to increase the business’s success and widen their reach. The management team at the farm thanked the volunteers for giving them such great advice and for offering materials to support their long-term business plans.
During the final week in Ghana, Leo volunteered across many community-wide events to inspire existing business owners and encourage a new group of entrepreneurs. These events included a finance training seminar held at a university, which was delivered to a group of 40 entrepreneurs and a session at a local secondary school where the students learnt to make bags and nets from discarded plastic.
Leo said about his volunteering experience: “I gained a lot from delivering a presentation on financial and accounting methods. All the research contributing towards it taught me a lot about structure and terminology such as balance sheets, profit and loss statements, equity and liability, liquidity and financial ratios. This is a transferable skill that I will be able to apply directly to work in the UK. It also improved my confidence and demeanour in front of a room of people, and my ability to engage and hold an audience.”
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