Micro-Business Incubator (MBI)
MBA in MBI: Small investments into big dreams that open doors for young people.
Our idea is a business incubator that will work as a platform to tackle the problem of youth unemployment by identifying and training employable and entrepreneurial young people to design and operate the microbusinesses that provide jobs for other youth and meet the communities needs for goods and services.
The Micro-Business Incubator (MBI) is a platform for young entrepreneurs to develop and refine their entrepreneurial ideas and compete for investment and launch business that open up employment opportunities. The idea comes from the need to create more jobs that entry level graduates and young people can perform. In Goma, North Kivu – the eastern border town in the Democratic Republic of Congo, universities are churning out 2,100 graduates every year, but the job market is producing less than 300 jobs. The idea aims to invest in the micro-start ups that give young people opportunities for employment. Rather than donations, this platform will use impact investments and crowd-funding (primarily from the local middle-class) to support young entrepreneurs who understand that business development is also about job creation. These investments will be packaged as low-interest loans or equity stakes.
A re-Education in making life work
The best mentors are business people/managers in Goma. We would like to identify these individuals to volunteer their time to support participants in the incubation process of their businesses. Goma is full of goods and services providers who can help young entrepreneurs manage their enterprises and network.
MBI will support new ideas, business development and mentorship of participants directly over a 6 months period. The participants will formally continue the mentoring relationship over the course of one year. Return on financial investments will depend on the agreed upon repayment calendar of the impact investors. The repayment schedule will take place 6, 12, 18, 24 months following the start-up each participant’s social enterprise. Impact investors will have the option of cashing their investments beginning 12 months after the start-up of the social enterprises at 6 month intervals.
Once the cohort graduates from the program they will begin a mentoring relationship with chosen mentors for a minimum of 12 months. This mentoring relationship can continue informally following the initial 12 months. The cohort graduates will take part in monthly peer-to-peer reflections coordinated by the MBI for a 6 month period to share lessons learned and to inform institutional knowledge to improve services provided by the MBI. MBI will provide risk management services to cohorts who seek second round funding through micro-finance or formal banking institutions.
The keys to success will be developing local ownership of the concept of impact investment and inspiring young people to invest in themselves and their ideas instead of the prodded path of seeking unsustainable employment.
What are the next steps for implementing this idea?
- Organizational establishment (2 months)
- Mapping of the community needs for goods & services in Goma (2 months)
- Fund-raising for first round of investments (3 months)
- Request submission from social entrepreneurs (1 month)
- Interview selected finalists (1 week)
- Select cohort (2 weeks).
Briefly describe a user scenario which illustrates the specific need that your idea is trying to solve.
Chubaka is a 28 year old university graduate who lives in Virunga, a neighborhood in Goma characterized by the multitude of hand-made wooden homes built on black volcanic rock. Since graduating from university, Chubaka found a small house to rent near the community water tank. During the dry-season, Chubaka fills up his 20-liter jerrycans of water and sells them for $0.20 each, during the rainy season he sells his jerrycans for $0.15 and makes about $10 a day in revenue but $2 after costs before he goes out into town to look for work. He
He reaches out to the MBI one day after one of his customers told him that he heard the Micro-business Incubator is looking for entrepreneurs to improve access to water in Goma’s neighborhoods through profitable businesses. After noticing that almost half of the people who come to fetch water are children under 10 years old he submits a business proposal to include a delivery service to his water business and wins a place in the pioneer cohort where he learns business modeling, financial and human resource management, customer retention and risk management among other business skills from seasoned business development experts. He also strikes up a good relationship with John a taxi-driver who finished secondary school at the top of his class but didn’t have enough money for college but seems to know everyone in Virunga.
On graduation day, Chubaka presents his business plan for the water delivery service and earns a $1,200 low-interest loan to start his business. He chooses John and Fatima as his employees. Fatima is a young girl from his cohort with a knack for closing deals who lost a job-offer from a prominent Non-profit organization because she refused to kick-back some of her salary to the human resource rep. Together, these three young entrepreneurs begin their business under the tutelage of Deo, a coffee shop owner in Goma known for her extravagant hairstyles and propensity to feed street children with gourmet food. After a difficult start-up period, Chubaka and his team can boast a client list of 120 families who pay a monthly fee for regular water deliveries and three hotels that have commissioned water deliveries when their own water reserves run low. After 6 months each earns a weekly salary of 65$ and the business is generating profits of 120$ a month.
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Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?
Young people (18-45 years of age), - high school graduates, college graduates, entry-level job seekers, under-employed professionals in Goma, North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A successful entrepreneur for this program will bring the following assets to the table:
- Entrepreneurial spirit/experience
- Formal education
- Understanding of the community needs
- Innovative responses to meeting community needs
- Quick learner and proficient teacher
A critical component to the success of the MBI and the corresponding success of participants is the mentoring that comes alongside business start-ups.
How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?
Unemployed young people have a unique perspective on the service and product delivery gaps that exist in their communities. They often reside in underserved communities. The entrepreneurial ones see these gaps as opportunities and only require mentoring, the right competitive environment and a financial boost to turn these opportunities into businesses that create jobs. This idea will nurture the innovative small businesses that create jobs for 1-3 people such as motorcycle food delivery services.
What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?
To test out the viability of the MBI, we will pilot a "pioneer class" of 10 young business minded individuals. These candidates will be mentored on key business principles for a short defined period of time after which they will all submit a business idea and plan for operationalization to a competitive review. The "winning" proposal writer will then hire a group of 1-3 candidates from his cohort to help launch his/her business.
What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?
The MBI is looking for general feedback on the idea and guidance on how to manage risk in micro-businesses and strategies for recruiting social investment.
How do you envision your idea being implemented?
Keen to be involved in prototyping but need partners at some stage