Friday, October 5, 2007

Growth point initiative

Since the beginning of September I have been involved in an enterprise development programme targeting operating small to medium enterprises (SMEs). The Growth point initiative is collaboration between Investec Group of Properties and The Business Place. It is an initiative aimed at maximizing the growth prospects of existing SMEs through providing essential business skills and business opportunities. This generally involves a combination of demand-side actions in which technical support is directly to SMEs and supply-side measures relating to SME support structures such awarding of long term corporate tenders. My role in this project is to provide technical support which involves assisting selected enterprises prepare business profiles and services proposals.

180 Academy - Positive Deviance Module

The pinnacle of my internship was being selected to participate in Positive Deviance programme which is a collaborative initiative between The Business Place and 180 Academy (Denmark). In this programme we hosted exchange students from 180 Academy in Denmark. As The Business Place staff I join 180 Academy students in a training module on Positive Deviance.

Positive deviance is a development approach that is based on the premises that solutions to community problems already exist within the community. The positive deviance approach thus differs from traditional ‘needs based approach’ or problem solving approaches in that it does not focus primarily on the identification of needs and external inputs necessary to meet those needs or solve problems. Instead it seeks to identify and optimize existing resources and solutions within the community to solve community problems.

The objectives of the training were to identify positive deviance and non positive deviance clients of the Business place and conduct interviews. In these interviews we identified positive business practices among successful client and also negative business practices among the non positive deviance clients. We then as a group designed an action plan based on the findings during the week on how to assist non positive deviance clients who are finding the going difficult in there business.