In April, I had the privilege to be invited to return to Bangladesh to continue work I started in the spring of 2017. In May 2017, I visited Bangladesh on an USAID Farmer-to-Farmer trip to consult with the Department of Youth Development on an entrepreneurship curriculum. This year, I returned to help them implement this curriculum and work with young entrepreneurs.
In April 2018, I returned to the Department of Youth Development (DYD), a department of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Ministry of Youth and Sports to help implement entrepreneurial training as part of their occupational skills training program. DYD trains young Bengali’s on a variety of agriculture related occupations, as well as: technology, office operations, fashion design, and textiles manufacturing. Since the Bengali economy struggles to keep up with job creation for its citizens, the department encourages micro-entrepreneurship by its trainees. This year I had an opportunity to work with 40 deputy directors and trainers for DYD on how to deliver entrepreneurship training, and how to use modern pedagogy that is more participatory and action learning oriented.
Starting later this year, DYD will invest over $100 million (USD) in entrepreneurship development across Bangladesh, including implementing the curriculum I developed for them. This project was organized through Winrock International, an NGO that facilitates USAID, Farmer-to-Farmer program in Bangladesh. In addition to training DYD staff, the department also requested that I facilitate two training sessions for young entrepreneurs who have already started businesses, based on their DYD occupational training.
In Dhaka, the capital city for Bangladesh, I facilitated two two-day workshops for young entrepreneurs, mostly young women. These entrepreneurs had varied businesses that included: textiles making, fashion design, handicrafts, catering, value added food production, ecommerce, and training centers to train others. These entrepreneurs also varied in experience, with some being in business just a few months, while others have been in business for years.
During our two days together, I introduced the entrepreneurs to two tools to help them focus on growth for their business. First was the Business Model Canvas, which is a lean business planning tool. Each participant created two iterations of the canvas. The first represented their current state, and the second created a vision for where they wanted their business to
be in 3 to 5 years. The Business Model Canvas sets a vision but lacks steps to get a business to the desired state. The second tool introduced to the participants included select parts of the Entrepreneur Operating System or EOS ™ from the book Traction.
EOS helps businesses focus on core values, core business processes, and data to help drive business growth. We spent time discussing topics like: What are the key processes that each business offers; What is the unique value proposition for each business; What metrics does each business have, and can be monitored to measure progress towards achieving business goals; What goals need to be attained now and in the future to achieve the desired growth goal?
This two-day workshop left each of these highly motivated entrepreneurs with a vision for growth, and a tangible plan to work towards that goal. In addition, we had time to discuss “roundtable” issues that were of interest to participants. As I spent time with these young entrepreneurs, I was constantly reminded that their struggles and passions are more alike the struggles and passions of entrepreneurs in the USA than different.
I’d like to thank USAID, Winrock International, Department of Youth Development in Bangladesh, University of Wisconsin – Extension, and Douglas County for allowing me the opportunity to volunteer in Bangladesh on this project.