By Jill Delman – Intern
The business counseling sessions conducted by IDIWA convey much more than commercial or personal enterprise knowledge that its name eludes to. I have been a part of several business counseling sessions in different sub-counties and have seen so much more than occupational advice.
IDIWA goes beyond counselling women and other beneficiaries on ways to succeed in their businesses, it would be more accurate to say they strategize ways to succeed in life, due to the ranging but equally important topics discussed. They discuss the importance of health, hygiene, self-esteem, hard-work, unifying efforts, saving, and then go around the room to discuss each and every individuals’ business and how it is doing.
This is what occurs at each business counseling session, no matter if 15 or 50 people show up or where they occur, you can count on an afternoon filled with quality information from women who make sure you understand why these topics are significant to your success.
Each session is set to mobilize and meet in front of the sub-county’s health center. This guarantees not only a big enough meeting space for the people interested or already involved in the economic empowerment activity IDIWA provides, but it also allows a natural discussion of health care to start off the sessions.
The importance of personal hygiene, keeping your home clean, and getting regularly tested are critical for your personal health, but the sessions also progress to another reason why caring about these issues are important. If you take the time and effort to care about your own well-being, it will show to people around you including potential customers. But more importantly working hard to care of yourself, your self-esteem grows to want better for yourself, just like you wanted to better your personal health.
This is where the sessions begin to dive into its main theme: hard-work. It takes hard-work to keep up with your health care, it takes hard-work to keep your home clean, to make sure food is cooked properly, and it takes even more hard-work to run a business.
I really enjoy these business counseling sessions because of how honest and direct they are. I have earned a Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship & Strategy as well as Leadership Management and found some business consultants like to use metaphors and stories for motivation. But by discussing different ways to succeed in life, with health care, caring for your home, and self-esteem, these topics are all relatable to the ways in which a business can either succeed or fail.
And how that success or failure is mainly dependent on the amount of hard-work you are willing to put in. I think the way in which IDIWA conducts these sessions are effective because they are easily relatable, the importance of your business is put in the perspective of how successful you find yourself and how you should want to achieve personal growth as much as professional growth. I not only think these tactics are effective, but I’ve seen their affect because the participants are focused and excited by the time we begin to talk about business.
I found each business counseling session has at least one loans officer from IDP SACCO, the loans officer is very helpful during these discussions because when it is time to talk about business we first discuss the importance of saving. While most of the sessions build up and discuss hard-work as motivating drivers of success, it seems that people are not very excited about saving.
But saving we discuss as a resource, a safety net, an equally important, if not vital component of a business. Saving is a resource for when something in your strategy does not go as planned. Even though you might have worked very hard, like we have discussed, sometimes things still don’t go the way you planned because of outside factors. So you can use your savings as a safety net instead to keep your business going.
This is where the sessions talk about resources, like the resource of savings, you can also use people and outside perspective as a resource when your strategy is not going as planned. When a client of IDIWA discusses an issue they have with their business like not enough customers or buying too much supply or not enough of a certain product, it is other people in the room who sometimes provide answers and solutions to those problems.
The loans officer usually leads this part of the discussion where every person goes around the room to talk about their business, what is going well and why or what is not going so well. As the women and men in the room share and discuss strategies for better success, the leaders of the sessions remind these individuals that if you are having a problem you could reach out to one of the other people here in this room and use them as a resource. Because they may have had a similar problem that they can help you solve. Some of the businesses also are looking to expand so it is an opportunity for the IDP SACCO to look and gain new members for qualifying businesses and loans.
Overall these business counseling sessions discuss hard-work and how running a business will always be hard, and running a successful business will probably be just as hard if not harder to sustain. They are empowering, honest, ruthless sessions which discuss strategies for success in personal and professional capacity and I am happy to speak, contribute, and be a part of them as well as the wonderful organization IDIWA.
Jill Delman has been an intern student at IDIWA attached to the Iganga Disabled People’s SACCO.