A trainer giving lectures during a class.

While on my last trip to Kenya I had the opportunity to visit with several community members from the Ngaamba area, these community members all had one thing in common.  They all participated in the “Dynamic Business Start-up Project” (DBSP).  These community members ranging in age from 17 to 50+ spent 6 weeks in an intense program where they learn business practices, develop business plans, and actually launch a small business.  Over the next 11 months they will be followed up with and mentored by Kenyan business leaders and instructors.  The success of these programs has been incredible.  Over 80% of the students who complete the program are still in business and earning a profit a year after their launch date.

One of the young men I met was 17 years old and had only a primary school education.  He was accepted into the program and 3 months later was providing for his entire family through his small business selling “mandazi” (a donut like fried pastry).  The young man was thrilled to report to me his “profit margin”, and was excited about increasing his production capacity so he could hire additional people to sell his product.  It was incredible to see the hope in this young man’s eyes, as he now has both the skill and knowledge to run and grow a business and end the cycle of poverty in his family.

Over the last 18 months we have partnered together with Empowering Lives to facilitate 6 DBSP classes of 20-25 students each.  To date we have trained nearly 150 men and women in three 410 Bridge communities and over 80% of them are still in business.  The practical training, long-term mentorship, and strengths based approach to this program make it an invaluable part of sustainable development in 410 Bridge communities.

Other 410 Bridge leadership councils and communities are requesting The DBSP for their community and as we look at 2010, we are excited to continue and even grow our partnership with Empowering Lives.  For more information on DBSP and how you can help with these and similar programs, please email me here.