Moving from Poverty to Prosperity through Self-Reliance Business Training in Ouelessebougou

From January 27 th to 29th, Ouelessebougou Alliance partnered with Interweave Solutions on business training for five of our partner villages, the representatives of the Ouelessebougou Youth Association and Women’s Association and our local staff in the Ouelessebougou office. Interweave Solutions is an international organization that specializes in self-reliance and have programs in over 25 countries. The workshop gathered twenty-three participants: fifteen from our five villages, one woman from the Ouelessebougou Women’s Association, three representatives from the Youth Association, one alumnus from Dialakoro-Keleya, and three representatives of the Alliance local staff.

The Participants in the Ouelessebougou Alliance Office in Ouelessebougou, Mali

Lynn Curtis is the director and co-founder of Interweave Solutions. He has nearly 40 years of experience working with non-profit organizations in community development. Lynn flew over to Ouelessebougou, Mali the last week of January and taught our twenty-three on how to succeed in business. He facilitated the workshop, demonstrated how it worked in the field and implemented the program. With Lynn’s experience and expertise on business training in different countries and levels, the participants were able to really understand the 6Ps of Business– Plan, Product, Process, Promotion, Price and Paperwork to help the participants grow their own business and become successful and self-reliant. He also encouraged the participants to perform more community service in their areas. That would change their personal, home life, and better their community and better future. After the three days of training, the participants received their official Master of Business in the Streets (MBS) certificates, which allowed them to be professional business owners.

Additionally, Ouelessebougou Alliance’s idea was to train three educated and passionate leaders in each of the five pilot villages on business and self-reliance, so that they could go back and train their own people in their communities. This is part of the Ouelessebougou philosophy, “help villagers and they help themselves.” These leaders that just received this business training would teach their villagers on how to grow and develop their own business. This strategy will lift disadvantaged people out of poverty. The Ouelessebougou Alliance is so good at teaching villagers’ important skills that they need to transform their lives in the best effective way.   

The three participants teaching others on business training they just received from Lynn Curtis

“This training enabled prospective community teachers to master and facilitate Interweave business training. Through Interweave instruction and manuals, Ouelessebougou Alliance would be able to initiate or expand efforts that helped participants to become more self-reliant. Through these programs, Ouelessebougou participants would gain the capacity to strengthen their families, improve their communities and increase income,” said Lynn Curtis, the facilitator.

At the community level, when you educate a woman, you can transform the lives of a lot people once a time. The Ouelessebougou Alliance had the representative of the women’s corporation from Ouelessebougou in the business training. She states, “I am the president of the Women’s Corporation in Ouelessebougou, which focuses on making shea butter. I got this business training because of the Utah Alliance. This training will help me a lot. I am responsible for the sales and purchases of shea butter and soap. This kind of training is very helpful for me. We would like the Utah Alliance to train more young people in the business. When young get this type of training, it will help them in their future. I would like to thank the Utah Alliance for its service.”

The Famana and Ouelessebougou Women Attending in Famana

Moreover, the young man, Salif Sylla from our village of Bassa said that “I am so grateful for the Utah Alliance for this business training. This training has encouraged me to start my own business. I am really happy today because of this training. I am going to look for some funds and start my own business because I know how a business works now. This training provides great skills and confidence in business. Thank you, the Utah Alliance people.”

On the last day of the training, all the participants went to our village of Famana to practice what they learned from the workshop, which was learning by doing. Among the twenty-three participants, three from Famana became facilitators. Interestingly, twenty-three people from the village of Famana joined the group and eighteen were women, which was an excellent thing. After that, Lynn met the women and got their impressions and recommendations on the training. They really appreciated the training which would help increase their income in the village and change their lives. The participants created a business/self-reliance groups and taught others on how to start and grow their businesses. That was very successful according to Lynn.

All participants expressed the interests they had for the business training. Everybody was fully concentrated throughout the training. On the first day, about 90 percent of the participants thought they were not able to understand, but the second day 100 percent of the participants were confident and were proud of them; everybody was an active learner. The training manuals were well-detailed. Lynn was very patient and was teaching with pedagogy,” said Anounou, our Field Director in Ouelessebougou. In addition to our Field Director statement, a representative of the Youth Association, Adama Mambe Traore said that “The first lesson I learned during the training was on how the 6Ps works. The second lesson was the separation of the business money from my own money or expenses. I have to pay myself every time instead of using business money for my personal expenses. Finally, I just made a register book for my future business.”

Despite the success of the training, there was a language challenge a little bit at the beginning. Anounou added that translated and interpreted the manuals from English into French and Bamanankan were the biggest challenges. Fortunately, there were two good interpreters (French interpreter and Bamanankan interpreter) who did a very good job. The favorite part of the workshop was the description of the 6Ps of Business because it told our participants what one supposed to do, to sell a product and be successful in a business.”

As I always say, the best way to master new skills is to teach or practice. On the last day of our business training, three participants became the trainers and the villagers and the other were participants and Lynn was like the supervisor. These trainers were able to teach well the lessons they learned from the training. As a result, all three participants who are the leaders in their communities and they did a wonderful job by teaching the other participants and villagers.

The participants and villagers enjoyed the business training and deep appreciated it. The Ouelessebougou Alliance thanks the generous donors for their generosity and making this training possible.