Earlier this month, we went back to Alexandra and met with the entrepreneurs to find out if, and how, they were progressing towards implementing your recommendations.
From the onset, the goal of the week was not just to observe, interact and learn, but also to create a real impact on the entrepreneurs. This is a real challenge; perhaps to a larger extent than elsewhere as measuring impact is a difficult exercise in this environment. Indeed, there are no standard indicators of success, and even usual performance indicators such as profit or revenue are often not precise, and in some instances are not available at all.
Entrepreneurs also face challenges that are typical of the informal environment that they work in; e.g., the difficulty of obtaining finance (which has often been mentioned), but also the challenge to stay focused when personal circumstances change suddenly. This may force a person to change his or her priorities, suffer lack of self-confidence and motivation in conducting his or her business in new ways.
For the reasons outlined above, we felt it was important to monitor the progress of the entrepreneurs and report to you. They are very grateful that they have not been forgotten, and the ones we met with were keen to provide us with feedback.
Some have been able to make more use of the recommendations than others have. It is important for you to understand that if your client has not managed to implement a recommendation, or if your client has not seen a clear success out of your initiative, this does not mean that you have failed or that he or she has failed. Most will still need to work hard!