Friday, September 5, 2014

Part 2: New Era, New Beginnings

The first installation of this blog posed a few questions, some of which I can now attempt to answer. It was written during the middle of my time working with New ERA, and to an extension my time in Ghana. By then I was settled into the country, but remained unsure of the extent I could help the business in keeping records and thus aiding it into becoming a profitable and sustainable venture.

Under the LIFE Project, our first task was to set goals for what we wanted to achieve over the course of the project. Around the time of pondering what my first blog would discuss I came to the realisation the height of my goals would have to be slightly lowered. Although, in hindsight, maybe I acted irrationally when revising my goals and lowered them too much.

‘Can I really help?’ was the first question asked. The teaching of business and business activities in the West are often delivered with a set of presumptions that are not valid in other parts of the world bar the West itself. Consequently, it’s proved to be problematic attempting to apply my knowledge to this small, social enterprise based in Ghana. On the other hand, the same fundamentals can be applied worldwide. To maximise profits, keep expenditure low and charge a price that will allow for the quantity sold to generate maximum revenue. To make a business sustainable ensure a healthy cash flow and a motivated and informed workforce. In short, yes, I am able to help to try and teach and apply these business fundamentals. By teaching record keeping and the importance of being able to refer to these recording keeping documents to the production ladies I have lead New ERA one step closer to becoming a profitable and sustainable business.

The remaining two questions posed were ‘Do they need my help?’ and ‘After I depart from Ghana will they continue to apply anything they have learnt?’

Benjee, Jeeves and Adam demonstrating some of the learning materials
Since New ERA opened in 2013 they have been not been producing soap on a consistent basis. This inconsistency cannot be put down to any factor in particular, but I hunch that the lack of any documentation acts as a major barrier to the venture’s success. After the first few lessons I started questioning if the production team understood the points and knowledge I was putting across regarding record keeping. However, the last few lessons have been extremely encouraging with the ladies scoring perfect scores in the record keeping tests I have been setting. Moreover, they have stated they are appreciative of what they have learnt and are now comfortable in their abilities to record keeping.

Part 1’s closing paragraph expressed concern regarding me being able to fully implement a coherent and comprehended record keeping system. However, now, with a motivated and more educated workforce, equipped with a fresher and cheaper production method there are promising prospects for New ERA.

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