Start and Improve Your Business Training - July 20 to July 26
From July 20 to July 26, twenty-four microfinance and business professionals attended CMF Nepal’s Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) Training, the first of several sessions designed to guide prospective entrepreneurs through the process of successfully starting and nurturing a new business. The training was facilitated by CMF’s in-house training staff, as well as by guest trainers Dilip Thapa, Sunder Shyam Ghimire, Amir Lama, and Lekh Nath Itani.
Dr. Harihar Acharya inaugurated the training by guiding participants into the proper mindset for the week ahead. After placing a lit candle in the middle of the room, he asked trainees to focus on the light before conducting a mindfulness exercise. Dr. Acharya led them through the jyoti yatra, or “light journey,” to guide participants to the realization that they are, both as individuals and microfinance professionals, part of a greater global network that has the power to spread truth, wisdom, peace, love, service, and non-violence. First, participants sit around the candle and are simply in its light, but as the journey continues, they internalize that light and become saturated with it and purified by it. The light is then expanded beyond the individual, shared between friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues, and grows until the universe is aglow with the light. Finally, the individual, now with this universal identity, returns to their personal role illuminated by the journey. After completing this journey, the trainees were prepared to challenge their perspectives and leave the training with a more empathetic approach to business. Dr. Acharya opened the training session with a unique focus on human values and balance and stressed the importance of bringing this kind of mindful thinking into business settings. To kick off the entrepreneurial process, trainees participated in several sessions on the basics of business, beginning with an overview of business concepts (including, among other topics, microfinance) as well as a discussion of the characteristics that make up a successful entrepreneur. The trainees were encouraged to think critically and take initiative, both within the training but most importantly in their own business endeavors. Participants also had the chance to brush up on the basics of supply and demand, and were instructed on the importance of marketing and salesmanship in sustaining a successful business. A key aspect of the entrepreneurial process is selecting a viable business opportunity; after building the basics of business, the trainees were given tools to help strategically identify and select projects best destined for success.
The liveliest sessions of the week were certainly the business game modules. The trainees were divided into teams including banks, producers, and customers, and were then asked to role-play example situations to test their business acumen. Prices set by the trainers changed as the game progressed, provoking enthusiastic bargaining and debate between the teams. After completing several sessions designed to build basic business skills, participants then embarked upon their own specific business plans. They were directed through the process of outlining plans for production, costs and pricing, finance, and marketing and were able to put these new skills to use with the development of a real business plan. Each individual or group of trainees began to build their business, and were coached through the actual writing of the business plan by the trainers. After completing their plans, each was presented to the entire group of trainees for constructive feedback. Through this process, the trainees built a crucial foundation in business planning that will result in well-structured, practical businesses in the future.
As the week drew to a close, all training participants were asked to reflect upon the experience and give their feedback on the methods used throughout the sessions. During the closing session, CMF Chairperson Ganesh Bahadur Thapa addressed the trainees, speaking about his own business acumen developed through a life’s work in the Nepalese finance sector. Dr. Acharya and CMF Deputy CEO Mr. Naresh Nepal also spoke to bookend the training, which concluded with the presentation of certificates of completion for all trainees.