Why do we exist?
Solutions to unemployment are complex and varied. Disadvantaged communities desperately require skills development and capacity building interventions that provide self-sustainability in their homes, their finances and life in general. Although aid in such circumstances can help, parameters need to be set to prevent a dependency being created and the cycle of poverty perpetuated. In addition, many people in impoverished circumstances do not have the necessary education or skills to access formal education opportunities.
Small, medium & micro enterprises (SMME’s) are vital to the growth of countries that face high levels of unemployment and poverty. Entrepreneurship plays a major part in the solution as it empowers people to start their own income-generating small business whose commercial success can provide a sustainable income for the entrepreneur and their household, as well as employment opportunities within their community.
We define entrepreneurship as the ability to identify a specific need in the marketplace and then to start and run a business that meets this need, profitably on a sustainable basis.
What do we do?
We run business training in local community venues and then provide on-going coaching and encouragement as the trained graduates go through the process of starting their own business. This is a unique training experience that is used to reach poverty-stricken communities in a way that they can grasp the basics of business. This programme also leverages the capabilities and skills of successful business people who provide mentorship or specific input into operational, financial, legal, planning or personal challenges.
Where we’ve been?
This programme commenced in 2006 and since starting, 290 groups have been trained and more than 2700 people have graduated from our training, where each of these people has started a business. Poverty alleviation statistics show that for one person employed, 9 others are generally impacted – implying that our work so far has impacted in excess of 24000 people. The training has been run by Epic Solutions trainers in 31 countries (17 countries in Africa) and in 120 cities around the world (45 in South Africa).
Who have we trained?
Groups of people we have trained include the unemployed, clergy, people with AIDS, the disabled, rural/village people, people on parole as well as people on the country’s welfare system.
What does EPIC Solutions look like?
- In keeping with the model we have developed, we establish a partnership with a key individual, someone who is already working within a community in need of social and economic upliftment. BEST business training is provided in a local venue with the aim of establishing a community of entrepreneurs that has a “hub and spoke” design.
- The “hub” is a Community Relationship Manager (CRM) who often doubles up as the dedicated trainer in that community and the spokes are the links between the CRM and each entrepreneur. We have developed a network of business people who will support the CRM in order to walk the tough road along for several months with these entrepreneurs as they build and grow their businesses while also encouraging them. As specific business needs arise, the CRM can reach into the business network to obtain specific advice, input or additional training for the entrepreneurs.
The structure for our programme has six components:
- To provide entrepreneurial skills training that will provide entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge to start-up and run a small business.
- To establish a community of entrepreneurs who meet regularly with a Community Relationship Manager (CRM) to discuss their successes, challenges & needs.
- To walk alongside a community of entrepreneurs and assist them with their business needs (training, coaching, skills transfer, problem solving, growth plans, challenges, networking, and personal development).
- To share in the successes & challenges of these entrepreneurs and provide them with support.
- To identify companies or business ideas that can either grow into a business that employs others and /or has the potential to be replicated in other communities.
- To provide the network of business people with an opportunity to use their professional skills and experience to help people in need.