We rented our office and opened our office doors around the 10th of this month (although we started our community outreach and few informational sessions 3 weeks ago), so it's been just 10 days since we've started. For these 10 days, we've kept our doors open for an hour or two in the morning and a few hours in the evening. In the remaining time we've been figuring out our strategy, assessing our system for record-keeping, continuing the field work necessary to identify entrepreneurs in this city and its neighbouring towns, meeting government stakeholders to sort out project management details, and gathering a student team to conduct the community household surveys.
- In just these 10 days, we've had about 70 visits to our office (67 to be precise)
- Given 5 hours of office time per day, this is a visit every hour.
- The number excludes countless informational 'sessions' we've had with community youth, women, and micro-business owners outside our office, while sitting by the roadside, during our visits to the community, and during our interactions with the 18-20 women that come to our office 3x weekly for tailoring training sessions.
I believe that the following points have contributed in enabling this degree of interaction, in exciting the curiosity of the women in particular, and in gaining the trust of the group as a whole.
- Our office is located just across the street from the community, a deliberate effort to make our services as accessible and our presence as visible as possible.
- Our community liaison and project coordinator is also the well respected, well connected, and very much liked leader of the community (I wrote on this just yesterday - participatory model of project implementation).
- The people interested in spending time learning about business opportunities, discussing business possibilities, and training in new skills are people who have the time to do so - the community housewives and the community women engaged only part-time in income earning activities. Given this, it probably helps that I'm a young woman, and one of my two project managers is also a young woman (pictured providing career counseling in the last photograph below (left)) who has a history of youth leadership, and remarkable social skills.