The Challenge

376 followers

How might we use social business to improve health in low-income communities? read the brief

Idea

Mobile training camp for Entrepreneurship

Everyone in Caldas is an Entrepreneur, that's something we learned in the inspiration phase. What if there was a service that trained people in the skills to turn those entrepreneurial instincts into viable social businesses?
Because Caldas is so mountainous, a central place may not be the best solution, though that could be a component. What if there was a mobile training camp - like a travelling library - which would teach the principles of social business, how to find investors, set up your business, and provide ongoing mentorship?

The Mobile Camp
As well as providing teaching materials, courses, and resources for budding entrepreneurs to get started, The bus itself could act as a showcase for the best local talent, showing off the ideas and potential of the community.

"You could also imagine that the truck could even provide ways for local crafts to show and sell their stuff. Imagine women weaving in a village. They could give one or two samples of their work which could be exhibited in the truck." Thanks to Anne-Laure Fayard for this great addition.

This could be extended into a network which would act as a virtual incubator for new businesses so that new entrepreneurs could connect and share best practice.

"Another way to make it more 'sustainable' is to build a network of local mentors (established entrepreneurs who have gone through the training and who have proved to have a certain business acumen). These could help as local relays for when the mobile truck is elsewhere." Thanks to Sarah Fathallah's great suggestion here.

Also see attached these great photographs taken by Juan Cajiao of a square of a small village he met people from a "cooperativa" in Mallorca, Spain. 

"These people are looking for jobs for retiree (retirement money is not enough to live in many countries). They were also trying to gather "gente sabia" (wise people) to give them advise them management advise...When people wants to make things happen they are thirsty for advice!" Juan Cajiao.
How do you envision this idea making money?
There's probably a few options: – Sell additional services on the side - e.g. fresh coffee :) or juice, or smoothies etc. – Provide higher value services such as consultancy to more established entrepreneurs, proceeds of which are reinvested in the outreach program
How does this idea create social impact, particularly around improving health?
By educating entrepreneurs with business skills so that they in turn can create impact. Plus what if the smoothie's / juices provided education about their health benefits?

Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

Laci Videmsky

July 13, 2011, 03:48AM
Hi Nathan,

This seems like a very appropriate and nimble concept. One could easily imagine an energy best practices narrative as well. Maybe... the mobile camp could be run on biofuel, and collects vegetable oil (or other lipids) on its journeys from town town showcasing such techniques along the way. Or, solar panels on the roof that pivot and become a shade structure or awning w/signage. Or, the trailer broadcasts a point-to-multipoint WiFi node. Just thoughts that could complement a decentralized and mobile idea such as yours. Look forward to seeing this develop further!

James McBennett

July 08, 2011, 14:27PM
Hope there will be case studies of failure as well as success. http://j.mp/qpJXVC

Luz Alba Gallo

July 08, 2011, 04:18AM
This reminds me of a project that became really popular as an icon por the colombian proud call "El biblioburro". http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblioburro
Is a really nice project and it has help educate a lot of children in the rural areas.

James McBennett

July 05, 2011, 02:07AM
Could encourage donations back into the organisation from successful entrepreneurs who join as 'members' as a club/community.

Four scales could use various price tags
start-ups are free ($0.00),
low turnover $a = $x fee,
medium turnover $b = $y fee,
high turnover $c = $z fee.
Would need local knowledge to set the numbers

Araz Najarian

July 04, 2011, 10:56AM
A similar idea though focused on alternative more sustainable lifestyles which had a mobile consulting team traveling through Brazil: http://magickombi.wordpress.com/

Meena Kadri

July 04, 2011, 21:56PM
And interesting to note there was a KaosPilot involved on that.

An Old Friend

July 03, 2011, 06:07AM
Fantastic concept with a lot of room for further growth! This concept brings to mind a current initiative of the UBC Sauder School of Business in Vancouver, Canada. Sauder students teach and mentor Nigerian youth in the field of social entrepreneurship, establish microfinancing projects, etc. Perhaps this idea of mentoring and networking could be incorporated into your concept - maybe on a smaller scale, with mentors coming from other parts of Colombia.

Nathan Waterhouse

July 05, 2011, 02:11AM
Nicole, that's really interesting, so if I understand what you're talking about, the Sauder students teach the Nigerian students remotely? If so then maybe there's a separate concept in that that you could submit yourself? Thanks again.

An Old Friend

July 12, 2011, 00:37AM
Nathan, you can find more info here: http://www.africa.sauder.ubc.ca/ I'm brand new to OPENideo so I'm still getting used to everything but I hope to contribute a concept in the future.

Ashley Jablow

July 12, 2011, 20:47PM
Welcome Nicole! Glad to have you onboard :)

James McBennett

July 03, 2011, 02:36AM
I am reminded of the old line "Give a man a fish, he is fed for the day, teach a man to fish and he is fed for life." To propose a social enterprise is to give a man a fish where the entrepreneurial intelligence remains in the western world, to teach/mentor/promote entrepreneurship is giving Caldas a fish. Great post!

As entrepreneurship is rather volatile, constantly changing, never predictable, I think a kiva model of micro-lending, but backed up by communication between lender and borrower WITH a mentoring process would be amazing, skype chat, text message, emails and so on. It could be more of a 'club' 'community' or 'incubator' not just teaching entrepreneurship but making it happen.


Vincent Cheng

July 03, 2011, 04:33AM
Agreed with everyone else, I love this concept Nathan! So many great builds that you've incorporated too. I think James suggestion to pair microfinance with the mentoring is great, as the combination will multiply the chances for entrepreneurial success. And of course this is fitting for Grameen, which has been doing this very type of microlending for quite awhile before Kiva even existed ;)

Dave Anians

July 02, 2011, 16:06PM
This is a great idea and it seems like it has a lot of opportunities to add more to it. My question is: how accessible is fuel in these areas? Would having to fill the tank cost more than the money it is making to stay in operation? Also: it might be cool to look at possible organizations willing to sponsor this project by creating a fuel efficient truck for this purpose or even a truck that uses alternative energy.

Anne-Laure Fayard

July 01, 2011, 02:48AM
Hi Nathan,

I really like the concept. The mobility component is great in that geographic context. I can see how the program could spread and how lead to the emergence of local mentors in each village.
Selling coffee is a nice idea. Linking it to the concept of the Nutritious lunch program from Krassimira (and per your last point about smoothies and juices), you could also think of selling some healthy food / meals, which could help educate people and make them healthier.

You could also imagine that the truck could even provide ways for local crafts to show and sell their stuff. Imagine women weaving in a village. They could give one or two samples of their work which could be exhibited in the truck.

Nathan Waterhouse

July 01, 2011, 02:55AM
Hi Anne, thanks so much, what a great suggestion. I've added your idea to the concept!

Johan Löfström

July 02, 2011, 11:19AM
is the idea that the truck should ride around with lots of samples of local arts and crafts? wouldn't it become a load on fuel costs and lots of administration? Turn it into a on-line version instead. Staff in the truck have cameras to document the products and place it in a web shop like Etsy or similar for global customers to see. (similar to other concepts here like : http://www.openideo.com/open/how-might-we-improve-health-care-through-social-business-in-low-income-communities/concepting/internet-shop-w-mentor-tutor-guidance/

Johan Löfström

July 02, 2011, 11:28AM
the staff could create the Etsy-accounts for each individual or make one account per each village, or only one for the whole Mobile camper-truck.

If all individuals want their own Etsy-account, you should make a central portal or group-page for all the involved Caldas-entrepreneurs, so as to create an entrypoint for international clients to find all that are connected to this Mobile-Camper-project in the same place.

When a customer buys something online, the staff sends out a text message to the producer, with postal address and brief info to send the item with post to the buyer. Payment could be managed and centralized through a PayPal-account or similar that the staff in the camp-truck are in charge of, and distribute the payment in cash, retroactively next time they are in the village of the seller.
(Perhaps you could get Paypal as sponsor to the concept, to make their fees lower for this purpose?)

Anne-Laure Fayard

July 02, 2011, 11:48AM
Hi Johan,
to reply to your first comment: my idea was to piggy back on the truck route already suggested by Nathan. It was more to create links between villages, in the style of peddlers. Back to Nathan point: because of the geography, it might be easier to travel to the village than create a central location.
Re. the Etsy-account: it can indeed be a way to provide access to more things and to more people, maybe a way to solve the geography / central location problem. For expanding and accessing international clients, this can be a great idea. However, for local communities, I'm wondering how good is the internet connection in Caldas.

cheers,

al

Johan Löfström

July 02, 2011, 12:44PM
Hi, Thanks, Wouldn't the truck be able to equip with satellite internet? and see also my concept proposal about permanent offices that piggy-back on existing government or municipal offices with a solid land-line-connection

Meena Kadri

June 28, 2011, 22:24PM
Nice one! And I like the idea of coffee being sold on the side – it certainly fuels a lot of entrepreneurial thought globally! And I wonder if some adults who sign-up for training might also be co-opted to provide short sessions for kids on things like financial literacy (they could be provided with tool-kits for this) so that the mobile training camp becomes relevant to the community at large. And perhaps there might be revenue in encouraging schools to host the occasional session?

Sarah Fathallah

June 28, 2011, 20:41PM
I really like this concept. Maybe another way to make it more 'sustainable' is to build a network of local mentors (established entrepreneurs who have gone through the training and who have proved to have a certain business acumen). These could help as local relays for when the mobile truck is elsewhere.

Nathan Waterhouse

June 28, 2011, 21:56PM
Thanks Sarah, I'll build that in - great suggestion!

Dave Anians

July 02, 2011, 16:04PM
This is a great idea and it seems like it has a lot of opportunities to add more to it. My question is: how accessible is fuel in these areas? Would having to fill the tank cost more than the money it is making to stay in operation? Also: it might be cool to look at possible organizations willing to sponsor this project by creating a fuel efficient truck for this purpose or even a truck that uses alternative energy.

Dave Anians

July 02, 2011, 16:06PM
Sorry, I put this in the wrong place : p. I'll post it again at the bottom.

Juan Cajiao

June 28, 2011, 19:26PM
On the weekend, on a square of a small village I met people from a "cooperativa". They look for jobs for retiree (retirement money is not enough to live in many countries).

They were also trying to gather "gente sabia" (wise people) to give them advise them management advise.

When people wants to make things happen they are thirsty for advise!
I like it! (I wanted to post a picture I took but I don´t think it is possible)

Nathan Waterhouse

June 28, 2011, 20:14PM
Juan, that's so interesting, thanks for your comment. If you wouldn't mind sending it to me, I'll add it to the concept and give you credit.

thanks

Juan Cajiao

June 28, 2011, 20:39PM
Nice, how can I send you the pics?

Juan Cajiao

July 02, 2011, 10:07AM
Hey Nathan, something else came to my mind.
People in Latin American villages are super creative in the way they re-use their resources.
They create tools to work, goods for the house, transport machines and so on. This is so embedded in the culture that even maintenance engineers prefer to fix parts instead of ordering new parts which is the opposite in Europe.
As the mobile camp goes around, It will be great to spot the solutions locals have created that have the potential to boost socio-economical development.
For example, maybe a farmer has a tool to harvest more efficiently, or a family has a home-made device to purify water and so on.
And support them with knowledge and micro finance to spread the solution across the village.

Check out some inventions:
- Cubans converted a bus in a train - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCjJ8K514lQ
- Bycicle with grass cutting engine from Panama - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbuyMByNEdo
- Some are useless of course :)..."Grow higher": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X60xig1ER14

Juan Cajiao

July 02, 2011, 10:29AM
One more invention: a domino-like game to learn to write and read in Spanish.
Login
Close
Login to OpenIDEO
 
or