We have prepared new investees and investment offerings to qualified businesses – they came for our three trainings and have good business ideas. Their performance is encouraging and we hope they will do very well in some months to come.
The use of the office space we secured has also proved very helpful and we have people coming all times to be a part of our investment programme. We are preparing to paste a huge banner to advertise our presence at the location so we can be found more clearly.
In this month, visits were made to our business people 3 to 5 times each to see how their businesses are doing. This is to check on their progress and also to make sure we are supporting them as best we can. We always want to assist our business people so we call them and visit them so we can try to build a relationship and a platform where they can trust us and tell us their problems so we can see how we can at all times support them.
We have had some unpleasantries we wish to work on day in and day out. We look to suggestions from people and compare our experiences to see how best we can create a better service for our businesspeople and our potential businesspeople. We also have commendation from other people who have tested our services and want to work with us again. Indeed is it a success story for us. They still need investment from us to keep expanding their businesses.
This month marks the month in which we had to work on improving the quality of our service and vetting new people to offer investment to. Still having the Director in the country, we sorted out a better way to help people with our services thus our training packs and tools plus our investment plans. We deliberated into details how best we could make things easier for interested investees to access our support while not pressuring them to work with us.
Going forward, we feel we are using the right tools and methods to pass the message across to lots of people around our work jurisdiction. This includes the difference between microfinance, loans and microinvestment or investment in general. No other non-profit offers what we offer to our investees in Ghana that we are aware of. We are purely interested in the growth of the people, the small business holders to get big or to be able to make tangible profit to cater for their life situations.
Most awareness topics we create in our business training session are as follows: cash flow, monthly returns, annual returns, bookkeeping, customer retention, savings and many others. We also help them understand that even as a businessman or a businesswoman you need to pay yourself and that’s one of the ways to growing your business and better and achieve greatness.
We are working to have a great standard for the organisation that can run for a long time and be sustainable in terms of expanding and making us grow in all business aspects. We are geared to continue developing more business training tool packs and investing in as many potential businesses as we can.
In this month of March we were able train about 50 people for three training sessions both practical and theory and we have invested in a further 9 people. We were able to meet our old investees to have further training with them to keep them updated. This month, we have had people come to our office to learn and know more about our services. The message about how investment works is going down quite well and we still hope to do more for lay people to get the education about investment. We look forward to train more business people to help them with the requisite knowledge needed to run a successful business.
February sped past due to preparations to introduce the new expansion of the Foundation’s new development: the Trade To Aid Toolbox. At the end of the month, we met with new Trainers who will be be working with us to plan and deliver training sessions, give business support and to monitor our investments.
Our starting aim with the T2A Toolbox is to visit three new communities to do training and investment rounds. To test the Toolbox, we are training up three new Trainers who are going to handle the selected communities we are entering. They will be responsible for all the interactions with our investees making sure they keep their books accurately, offering any business support they need and ensuring they pay dividends correctly. They will also offer training sessions with them in future offering additional business education to their businesses.
Our Trainers have excellent understanding of the investment system and our investment modules. Their work has being very impressive based on the limited time they have been working with the T2A Toolbox.
We’ve also made a lot of changes to the contents of our training and also the materials we use to vet potential investees. We have also translated our training videos from English to Twi, a major local Ghanaian language, to make our training sessions better meeting both the literate and illiterate standard. This is, so far, proving much smoother and very successful.
More training sessions will be offered to people who have been to our first sessions and we’ve already made four new investments in the first week of March, with more to come.
Trade To Aid started as a prong of Gardiner Foundation with the aim to better small businesses in rural Ghana. The initiative seeks to train businesspeople with the knowledge needed to maximise profit as they grow in business year after year and supporting them with micro-investment to facilitate growth.
We currently have micro-investments in 16 businesses in Teiman, a little village outside Accra, Ghana. Some of the businesses are barbering shops, hair beauty salons, tailors, grocery shops, printing press just to mention a few.
To start, we visited a lot of businesses to advertise the opportunities we wanted to offer them and our micro-investment aspect. We trained a couple of businessmen and businesswomen on the basics of how to keep books, cash flow, profit and loss, customer retention and other relevant topics in business. We provided certificate of participation for the attendees and also awarded to the people we selected to invest in.
So far, we have performed two training rounds. During the training sessions we make sure everything we are teaching the attendees is well understood. We teach them the real practical issues businesses confront every single day. We have a very simplified business game that explains the cycle of business and how to classify whether outgoing money is personal expenditure (eg school fees) or a business expense (eg staff salaries).
We also provide ledger books for our investees to keep their daily revenue and expenses which helps them to keep a good record of their business all month and year round. Our project coordinator, who resides in the region, supports them and caters for any situations that occur on the ground day in and day out with our investees. Our investees pay dividends through a flexible shared percentage negotiated between the project coordinator and the investee. On average, our share is 15-25%. We also have a pre-agreed buyout clause which allows the investee to buy back our share at anytime. All our profits are reinvested in other local businesses, with the aim to keep all dividend payments within the local areas where they originated.
Although there have been numerous challenges and difficulties to get to where we are now, from our first investment rounds we now have the experience to improve our training and continue to grow our micro-investment programme, including expanding to new areas within Ghana.
Comment from our investee
Michael Mottey, owner of printing press company said: “Trade to Aid is a company I don’t regret [working with] and I will never regret joining because they have been my business backbone since they came to Ghana. Their services [are] second to none, their [investment] terms for those they have helped is so flexible and convenient. If am given the platform to rate I will personally give them five star.
All I wish is that they can extend their services to other regions in Ghana because [there are] Ghanaians who have suffered from others for too long and waiting patiently for Trade to Aid”.
Other comments compared our flexible our investment terms are in comparison to micro-finance options and how our customer welfare policies are second to none.