Global business consultancy Challenges Group launches Enterprise Resilience Programme

Support for SMEs as Challenges Group launches Enterprise Resilience Programme

The Challenges Group has supported the growth of thousands of SMEs in developed and developing markets over the past 20 years. Now our global team of business consultants are using that same expertise to support the resilience, re-calibration and recovery of SMEs during the global economic crisis caused by COVID-19.

Challenges is now delivering resilience business support to enterprises affected by the Corona virus and the global economic slowdown.

In the first instance, we will deploy a robust diagnostic tool to analyse the enterprise, providing a rapid and in-depth market and operations investigation that will enable SMEs to carry out information-based decisions to respond, recover and reposition from COVID-19.

Looking at the enterprise’s current market, we work with the business to understand the risk and opportunities attached to current customers and supply chains, as well as HR concerns in staffing and more. Our commercial experts and consultants will co-create with the business owner the crucial next steps and recommendations to help them become resilient, protecting jobs and income.

The diagnostic process will take around four to six weeks. Initially, the in-country teams will conduct rapid information gathering within the first fortnight. Our support team of technical and commercial experts will then analyse the information and identify possible strategies, which will be presented back to the senior management team with actions then agreed. Challenges will remain available to offer ongoing implementation support.

The service is offered with no upfront payment attached. Instead, Challenges is offering a fixed fee repayment package of 24 months for the first phase to essential businesses and discount offered to those who can pay quicker than this period.

Partners and interested businesses can visit our website, also follow us on Twitter, @challengesgroup for regular updates.

Country specific emails can directly be sent to our sites across Africa or the UK headquarters;

Contact Details:

admin@thechallengesgroup.com

ghana@thechallengesgroup.com

malawi@thechallengesgroup.com

rwanda@thechallengesgroup.com

uganda@thechallengesgroup.com

zambia@thechallengesgroup.com

 

Twitter: @challengesgroup

Read more

Progress for social enterprise Lilypads in Zambia after Challenges research

Lilypads Zambia Challenges Group

Lilypads is a Scotland-based social enterprise that seeks to address period poverty. As part of Challenges’ Access Africa Programme, Lilypads had engaged our Accra team to undertake a piece of consumer market research in Ghana and Zambia. This research targeted women and girls of menstruating age, and asked them about their requirements in regards to sanitary pads; whether they would be willing to use reusable pads; and their feelings towards ecofriendly sanitary pads, including how much they would be willing to pay.

Challenges identified a clear market opportunity for Lilypads, and its product and business model.

Lilypads ChallengesFollowing this market research, Challenges then looked at the practicalities of establishing a production and distribution base in a number of different locations, including Zambia. The legalities of producing pads locally, such as the requirements for establishing a factory that produces and distributes sanitary pads, was a key consideration. Costs, employment opportunities and future forecasts were also major factors.

Subsequently, Challenges Zambia engaged both the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) for the standards required for sanitary towels; and the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) as to the legal requirements to establish Lilypads as a company in Zambia that would produce ecofriendly sanitary towels.

Challenges also engaged with a number of potential partners, identifying the One Planet Café Zambia, a business in South Luangwa that produces and exports banana paper branded One Planet Paper. This sustainability focused social business was receptive to partnering with Lilypads to produce ecofriendly sanitary pads.

Challenges is now working to raise capital on behalf of Lilypads in order to run a pilot in Zambia.


The Access Africa Programme

The Access Africa Programme enables Scottish social enterprises and social entrepreneurs to explore and expand into African markets. It provides market research and business development support, funded by the Scottish Government, to enterprises and individuals who have an idea, product, service or model that could make a real impact in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Read more

Lilypads and Challenges collaborate to help end period poverty

Lilypads Zambia Challenges Group

Lilypads is a social enterprise committed to improving girls’ access to sanitary products and ending period poverty. The Challenges team in Zambia is working with the business to better provide accessible and affordable menstrual health products for women and girls.

As part of our Access Africa Programme, we are assessing demand for Lilypads’ eco-friendly sanitary pads within Lilypad’s target market. Challenges consultants are also scoping the feasibility of a local manufacturing centre in Zambia, which would enable Lilypads to expand its reach and impact.

Meanwhile, Challenges’ Team Ghana is supporting Lilypads to identify a local manufacturing and distribution partner.

Lilypads’ chief exective Alison Woods said: “Working with Challenges has been a brilliant opportunity. They provided thorough market research and recommendations to enable us to evaluate what the best next step is for Lilypads.”

Read more

Giraffe Health partnership could provide personalised physiotherapy to Ghanaian patients

Giraffe Healthcare Ghana Challenges Group

As part of our Access Africa Programme, we’ve forged a series of positive partnerships with social businesses, including Giraffe Health, a healthcare enterprise based in Glasgow, Scotland.

Giraffe provides an e-health platform that delivers high quality, personalised healthcare programmes backed by expert advice and support. We’re working with the team to identify whether there is a market for its healthcare platform among urban-based physiotherapy services in Ghana, while also providing additional insight into other potential markets and applications in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Giraffe platform means patients can directly connect online with physiotherapist, enabling real-time data-capturing and sharing, and promotes better home care through tailor-made exercise programmes. It’s been designed for people who have difficulty accessing traditional face-to-face clinical services, whether that’s due to work commitments, rural location, specific cultural and language issues, transport problems, mobility limitation, or other health issues such as fatigue.

We’re working with Giraffe’s medical specialists Professor Lorna Paul and Dr Elaine Coulter to identify whether there is a market for its healthcare e-platform among urban-based physiotherapy services in Ghana, while we’re also providing additional insight into other potential markets and applications in sub-Saharan Africa.

Giraffe is a social enterprise spin-out from Glasgow Caledonian University, and won the Converge Challenge Social Enterprise Award in 2017.

Read more

Sales boost for pioneering Ghanaian bamboo bike manufacturer after Challenges intervention

Booomers International Ghana Challenges Group

Booomers International is a bamboo bicycle manufacturing and distribution company based in Ghana. Its vision is to grow the brand globally, pioneering its sustainable and innovative bamboo products, while also providing employment to young Ghanaians and supporting a community project that works to target poverty through greater access to education. Challenges undertook a comprehensive business diagnostic with Booomers that included a market assessment and business support and development. Following our involvement, Booomers reported improvements across a number of areas, including sales and marketing, financial management and production.

Booomers International Ltd is a Ghanaian social enterprise that produces high-quality, affordable bamboo products while maintaining a social mission that seeks to bring economic and social benefits to its customers and its staff. Launched in 2014 by entrepreneur Kwabena Danso, the business’s flagship product is its bamboo bike frames, and it has recently diversified to produce a growing range of bamboo accessories, from bike baskets to children’s trikes.

(L to R) Boadu Isaac, works as part of the gluing team. Kwabena Danso, founder of Booomers. Ampousah Boateng Selina is Deputy Operations Manager.

Now a thriving and successful SME, Booomers has produced more than 2500 bike frames and thousands more bamboo accessories, with stockists across the UK, Germany, the US and the Far East. At the time of Challenges’ intervention, the business had 28 employees, only two of whom were female. Booomers has since grown its workforce to more than 50 staff, and also indirectly supports dozens of local bamboo farmers and other young people associated with the cultivation and harvesting of the crop.

As part of our initial consultation, Challenges’ business advisers worked closely with the Booomers management team, running an in-depth enterprise diagnostic that examined a wide range of areas. As well as strength and opportunities, our assessment also looked at areas such as barriers to growth, rivals, legislative obstacles, and so on.

One of our key findings was that Booomers lacked a robust marketing strategy, and that as a result, it suffered from poor brand awareness. As part of our intervention, we supported the management team with the creation of marketing collateral and PR activity. Another barrier to Booomers growth was the high cost of transport of materials.

After the intervention, Challenges made a series of recommendations in a number of key areas.

Looking at Booomers’ organisational structure, we recommended the business standardised its training, and that it worked towards a more diverse and educated workforce. Given that Booomers was donating 15% of its profits to the Yonso Project, which works to alleviate poverty through education, we suggested greater ties with the initiative. We also recommended that Booomers shared its business mission and social vision with its staff through improved internal communications.

When it came to its product offering, Challenges’ business advisers recommended Booomers looked at diversification, and proposed a range of possible bamboo products, from laminate flooring to bike accessories. We also suggested improvements to production management, both to improve efficiencies while also reducing waste and streamlining operations.

With regards to sales and marketing, we recommended Booomers invested in marketing support, either internally through a direct appointment or externally through a marketing agency. As part of this, we encouraged the management team to create a robust B2B marketing strategy, B2C advertising campaign, and product strategy that addressed the various value chains in its different markets.

Booomers now offers an in-house training programme that gives experience and employment for young people in the local rural community. Crucially, it takes trainees through the entire manufacturing process, from the harvesting of bamboo through to the final assembly of bespoke bicycles in order to ensure they’re equipped with a diverse skill set.

Booomers continues to court success, and has also had support from the YouthActionNet program, the UK Department for International Development’s ENGINE project, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program and the African Entrepreneurship Award. Most recently its chief executive Kwabena was selected for the Obama Foundation Leaders African Programme 2018.

Following the our intervention, Challenges has continued to work closely with Booomer, and has helped the Ghanaian business create market linkages with stockists in the UK and mainland Europe.

Read more
Latest Articles