“The programme was a fabulous success – we’re hoping we can do this again.” Prof Susan Steinman, Founder of People Bottomline Consultancy.
It is the 2nd of February 2016 in sunny South Africa and 200 young would-be entrepreneurs embark on a 2-month programme to learn how to launch their business ideas. The programme, a collaboration between Lovelife (a well-known South African NGO working with youth with HIV), ABSA (one of South African’s big banks), People Bottomline (a talent consultancy) and Southern Business School. They were looking for an accessible, affordable and engaging way to help these youth learn about entrepreneurship and basic management, and felt that AMI offered a solution that participants would really benefit from.
This uniquely-designed program used a blended approach, meaning that it included elements of face-to-face interactions as well as online learning. In cohorts of 50, the participants started the programme with a 4-day in-person bootcamp where they were encouraged to think through their business idea using the Business Model Canvas and Business Plan templates. They worked in small groups of 4-5 on their business ideas, and made plans on how to realize their ideas when they went home to their townships. After the bootcamp, they were expected to take a selection of AMI’s courses and work with each other on practical exercises to build their skills in areas such as effective goal setting, time management, communication and project management.
There were some concerns that these disadvantaged youth would struggle to do the online courses with their limited knowledge of computers and the lack of access to both computers and internet. The programme coordinators had to go as far as setting up email addresses for many of the participants as they’d never had one. Surprisingly, most participants found ways to get online and do the courses, often using their mobile phones to access AMI’s mobile-friendly platform – some even took additional courses AMI provided for those keen to learn more. It was exciting to see participants really get into the courses and activities, showing that online learning is something that even disadvantaged youth can embrace.
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