Within the two-year agricultural training in “Holistic Agribusiness Solutions”, the business classes play a major role.
“It’s about business. We need it”, is the answer to my question on how important the entrepreneurship classes are for the students.
The students are very attentive and enjoy all classes. But even more so when it’s about business. And “business” in this case means ‘ concept, strategy, market, cultivation planning, customer development and care, cost analysis, data generation, risk management, supply capability, sales, cooperation, mechanization, accounting, etc. to marketing and product development, and again and again cost-benefit calculations.
Without a detailed concept, without a conscientious calculation, without an estimate of profitability of agricultural productions, every business venture is a gamble. But how do you proceed? How do you put a successful business on its feet?
Who, What and How
In order to teach all these steps, which are so important for future business ventures, we were able to recruit teams of Lufthansa Management Trainees from various areas of the Lufthansa Group. The help alliance gGmbH, aid organisation of Lufthansa Group, supports these assignments with generous funding and by sending their trainees as teachers.
Together with the Rural Development Organization, our local partner, we developed an extensive curriculum and created learning units that build on each other.
The first step in creating a business venture is to get an idea of the expectations and demands of the society. Then you need to find the realistic options, within the possibilities of the Gambian economy and the personal talents and capacities.
From now on it is all about planning, a concept, a strategy, investments, a schedule, and a budget, a forecast. Data collection, product and market analysis play an important role. So do the customers, because: without sales, no profit.
We could use a variety of books that deal with business start-ups. Surely every book has chapters worth knowing. But just as important as a tailor-made company is a tailor-made education. Only if the content of the classes, the teaching method and transfer of knowledge are on point and successful, the students will be able to implement their business ideas productively in the future. That is why all modules are specially designed for the trainees and the conditions in The Gambia.
We want to make sure that the learning units are not only understood, but that they can be implemented in real live. To achieve this, it is not enough to acquire knowledge. In our experience interactive classroom units with active participation are the best way to teach the business aspects in all its facets. In addition, independent group work is extremely motivating. As Satang puts it: “The teachers give you the freedom to make your own choice, to explore your own ideas and they make you feel to achieve it all by yourself.” That’s good. It makes them feel proud. And this experience can really be recalled when needed.
The enthusiasm, liveliness and flexibility of the young Lufthansa Management Trainees do the rest. The teams plan their teaching units in meticulous preparation. A careful handover of the baton ensures that the classes s are comprehensible and can be continued by the next team. Best-practice findings are incorporated into the compilation of a business compendium. It is an important, personal reference book for the trainees.
A train-the-trainer concept is anchored in the entrepreneurship aspects of the training. This means that all learning units can later also be carried out by the project managers. They learn with us, they teach with us. That´s sustainable.
We are still at the beginning of the training, but already now the dual concept of theory accompanying the practice can be classified as successful. The result should be a combination of agricultural studies and business training, commencing in personal business planning of each trainee in the 4th semester. It will be exciting.