Project Mala


Project Mala
Minor International Entrepreneurship & Development 2017

Mission
The Mala project wishes to bridge a gap between students and the textile industry existing out of a lack of entrepreneurial skills, knowledge of the industry and financial means, to light up the path for young entrepreneurs.

Location
The Gambia

Students
Merel van der Ven
Hibbe Amema
Amber Liqui Lung

External Links
http://projectmala.ga

On the sixth of November the Mala journey to the Gambia started. For a total of three months we will now be surrounded by the people, culture and nature of this beautiful West-African country. Mala means "to light" in Mandinka, one of the most spoken languages in the Gambia. We chose this name because our main goal is to light up the path for young entrepreneurs.

Project Mala consists out of a research report on the textile industry including all stakeholders and an entrepreneurship workshop with students of a textile skill center of choice. The guiding lines through the entire project will be our research questions and goals.

The research is going to be performed in four different phases; the orientation phase, the information gathering phase, the application phase and the reporting phase. Information gathering will be performed through an extensive literature review and a qualitative research approach including interviews. We are also working together with several NGO’s to gain as much information as possible. Every member of the team will have their own focus point and responsibilities, however communication between the team members and with the involved stakeholders is our main key to success.

Figure 2 - Team members

Eventually we will leave behind two reports, one formal report and an entrepreneurship manual based on the workshop. We hope these reports will lead to implementation of entrepreneurship in the educational program of especially skills centers. To achieve this we will eventually spread our deliverables to as many influential institutions available. We acknowledge this is an ambitious goal to achieve in solely three months, nevertheless the main goal is to set a solid base for perhaps other groups in the following years. 

For more information go to our website. Here you can find not only more information about the project, but you can also follow our blog where we will post, if conditions allow, every week about our time in the Gambia!

Figure 3 – The Mala team during the celebrations of P.G.V.S.

Evaluation
“The smiling coast of Africa”. During the last three months we experienced ourselves that this saying is no lie. The Gambia provided us with an unforgettable experience. We were lucky to be surrounded by these inspiring people to implement project Mala. Enlightening the path of young entrepreneurs has been our goal, as explained in the mission statement and research questions in the column on the right. This short article will explain the results and continuation of our project. We will discuss them according to our three deliverables.

Entrepreneurship workshop and manual
During our three months stay in the Gambia we gave a seven-day workshop about entrepreneurship on one of the skills centers we visited during our orientation phase; Presentation Girls Vocational School. The course manual used in the workshop has been developed by us. It is based on the basic principles of entrepreneurship. By obtaining information from Gambian and Senegalese entrepreneurship manuals we were able to specifically focus the workshop on the situation in the Gambia. The workshop was used to test our manual and improve it, so we would be sure that it was at the right level for skills center students.

In our seven-day workshop we provided the students with the basics of entrepreneurship divided into three main themes; management, marketing and financial management. One day consisted of a theory and practical lesson. During the practical hour we coached our students by writing a business plan according to the business model canvas. At the end of the workshop we arranged a pitching contest. The class was divided into groups of three to four students and was supposed to pitch their start-up idea. The three best ideas received a small price. Several empowerment and entrepreneurship organizations were invited to this event to share their experiences. Lastly, we handed over 900 euros, donated by our generous sponsors, to the school. This money will be used as a micro loan system in the school. Four to six students of our workshop will receive a loan from the school with 0% interest to start their own business after graduating. Contact is held with the school to make sure the money is used for the right goals.

The eventual manual has been sent to all schools visited as an example for a possible entrepreneurship workshop. We encouraged the schools to use this manual to integrate entrepreneurship in their curriculum. The manual is also included as an appendix in our formal report. This report is send to very influential parties in the educational system such as the National Accreditation Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA, executive party of the Ministry of Higher Education). The manual could function as a guiding line to include entrepreneurship in the educational curricula.

Report
Our third deliverable, next to the workshop and the manual, was our formal report. The report provides a theoretical framework and a list of possible suggestions for involved stakeholders. The suggestions are based on our observations, involving a total of 37 stakeholders, 100 questionnaires with a response rate of 67% and a focused group discussion with 20 entrepreneurs and students. The report has been spread by email to all stakeholders and will be further distributed among interested by them. It will also be published on our website for interested parties.

The proposed suggestions in the report have been discussed with the consulate of the Netherlands, the CEO of NAQAA and the project manager of the Youth Empowerment Project of the Gambia. The feedback and opinions of the different parties have been integrated in the suggestions. Part of the suggestions proposed were a validation to the stakeholder groups, while others came as a surprise. The suggestions could be a trigger to start and think about initiatives that could be executed to improve the development of the connection between skills centers and the job market. The focus has also been on entrepreneurship as a possible solution to the limited amount of employment opportunities in the Gambia. By improving the existing entrepreneurship and empowerment organizations students could become aware of the possibilities and will no longer feel the pressing need to make use of the backway.

Only a fragment of all the information available has been addressed, and still much more could be researched and elaborated upon. The report is limited to solely skills centers and has not researched the connection between colleges and universities with the job market. In addition, a special focus was put on the textile and apparel industry, hereby excluding other influential industries in the Gambia, as well as excluding the research of export and import possibilities. This thus provides many opportunities for future research. Other students of the Delft University of Technology could potentially execute this. Another future contribution could be requesting support from foreign programs in improving entrepreneurship. One of these programs is PUM. PUM is an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It sponsors experts to pay a visit to a foreign country to spread their knowledge about a specific subject. Lastly, this report could be spread among different external parties and organizations in the Gambia to enhance knowledge about potential opportunities for improvement.

We, the research team of the Mala project, would like to thank all the different interviewed individuals and organizations for their participation in our research and their valuable contribution. By collaborating, all the different stakeholders could enhance and stimulate the further development of the Gambia. For more information about our project you can always visit our website; http://projectmala.ga

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