According to Small Business Association, nearly one-third of all new businesses crash and burn within the first two years. The number one culprit is the lack of business acumen and market insight. The cycle continues when many become afraid to start their own ventures, after seeing so many fail around them.
Bangladesh has a young workforce. With about 60% of the total labour force being under the age of 30, one of the national priorities of the government is skills development.
However, a gap does exist. Efforts are focused on creating skilled workers, not entrepreneurs. What if someone already has the skills and the passion to start their own venture, but does not know where to start?
Keya Akhter was forced to drop out of secondary school. Her father wanted her to stay home, but she had other things in mind. Keya wanted to be an entrepreneur.
She enrolled into a six-month-long apprenticeship-based training at a beauty parlour under the STAR project. After graduating, she continued working under an expert beautician. In five years, her salary tripled, but she wanted to have her own business. Keya enrolled into PROMISE, a business incubation support for small entrepreneurs.
From dropping out of secondary school to doing a SWOT analysis, Keya was able to realise and nurture her strengths. She identified the ideal business location herself, networked with other learners within the class, and received entrepreneurship training. After securing a loan, Keya was now open for business!
Her very own beauty parlour, Keya Beauty Parlour, now stands tucked in a corner of a busy street in Savar, Dhaka. Her father proudly points to her daughter’s name over the signboard to passers by.
PROMISE helps ensure that dreams do not go unrealised. Potential young entrepreneurs like Keya have been able to successfully tap into their talents, and launched and sustained their own enterprises.
Leveraging their training from their apprenticeships, the budding entrepreneurs combine it with proven strategies to set up successful enterprises in the informal sector.
The prerequisites are simple: the ideal candidate must be 18 and above, skilled in a particular trade, and able to pay a nominal training fee. PROMISE’s business incubation model includes activity-based classroom training, mentoring support, and access to finance.
Along with a 10-month experiential learning and mentoring support, participants will have access to customised loans with support from BRAC’s microfinance programme. The average loan is USD 1,700 but can go up to USD 3,500 depending on the venture.
Just two blocks away from Keya’s bustling parlour, Saiful Islam is getting ready for another day at his automobile servicing shop. He had no doubt about his ability to fix motorcycles after learning the trade of motorcycle servicing through STAR.
His fear was that he might not be able to keep his business afloat, but after receiving 10 months of training, Saiful took out a loan of USD 1,800 through PROMISE and carved out his own path with his motorcycle servicing workshop.
“I now have a better understanding of how businesses work,” he explains. “Previously, I focused more on how much I was earning, without thinking about my expenses.”
Every week, Saiful saves BDT 7,000 (USD 83). He is now more aware of the return on investment, and spends more effectively.
By 2018, PROMISE aims to train 1,200 potential entrepreneurs like Saiful and Keya. To learn more, please visit: http://www.brac.net/program/skills-development/
Monzur Morshed Patwary is a fundraising specialist at BRAC’s skills development programme.