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How to get started

MarketThe very first step in getting started is to realise that you have something to offer.  In the third world, skills that we take for granted do not exist.  Most people in Africa or Asia did not grow up in a culture where children gathered returnable bottles to reclaim the deposit, or set up a garage sale, or sold cookies for charity.  In the West, we have developed insights into customers, costs, profits, quality, and business in general that we take so much for granted that we don’t even realise we have them.  Just being a consumer in our modern world trains us to understand an enormous amount about what makes a business work and what doesn’t. 

In the third world, people can struggle to grasp simple arithmetic; they don’t always realise that income needs to exceed expenditure; and many haven’t heard of customer service or marketing (okay, so there are some advantages that they have).  You do not need to be a business consultant to help someone set up a one-person business to sell bananas, you just need some common sense informed by our everyday ‘commercial’ experiences. 

To convince yourself of this, try reading the booklet ‘Setting-up your own small business’, and if you can understand it, and you can do the exercises yourself (even if your ‘test business idea’ does not work out as profitable), then you have something very significant to offer people in the third world, where most will need help to do what you have just done. 

At the EquatorAnd if you now realise that you do have something to offer, the next step is to find other people who feel the same way, and either want to do something, or have already started, and together find links to what people are already doing (see the links page) or visit* and make contacts in areas of the world that need your help (the church network in your own country or in the country that you wish to help can be an excellent start point for such contacts).  To see pictures of our visit, please visit the Picture Gallery.

*Please be safety conscious when planning a visit, particularly in regard to trouble spots, and use people you can trust to give you good advice.  We have found it is very important not to get drawn in as a source of finance on these visits (please see our note on The Finance Issue), since that confuses people’s objectives in listening to you, but to limit yourself to providing help and advice, so that everyone who listens to you is there for the right reason.  During your visit, engage people in conversation, and gain some clarity on the needs for business skills (and where these materials could help meet that need), and then plan how you could arrange things to return and provide the necessary help. TBN helps people to think through these things. .