How We Do It
Leadership Initiatives (LI) confronts systemic underdevelopment with an innovative model that empowers communities to identify shared needs and maximize socioeconomic potential. By partnering with local municipalities, businesses, and other NGO’s to train promising local entrepreneurs, LI cultivates ingenuity, sustainability, and a culture of self-reliant leadership. Our track record of highlights a smart, forward-thinking process of community involvement, individual training, micro-finance, and civic implementation.
LI’s successes in designing and implementing profit-generating businesses result from a progressive, three-tiered methodology of Preparation, Training, and Sustainability.
Preperation: Once a community has been selected, LI trains a Program Manager, Instructor, and Operations Manager to initiate the project. The LI staff works iwth the community and conducts extensive interviews to select individuals for the program.
Training: LI then begins the process of educating participants in the skills of community planning, project management, fundraising, budgeting, and networking. Simultaneously, students work with LI to identify common challenges facing their community. By the end of the course, participants have created multiple working entrepreneurial solutions. Each group, aided by LI staff, coordinates a plan of action and initiates partnerships with universities, businesses, NGO’s, and local municipalities.
Sustainability: Finally, local businesses and donors are approached by project participants to help finance their initiatives. All funds raised locally are matched by LI, and local offices are established and staffed with trained, in-country personnel. Progress reports based on established goals and timelines for project completion are then submitted quarterly to both local offices and LI headquarters to help ensure continuity and increase accountability efforts.
LI’s three-tiered methodology has resulted in the implementation of 56 new, locally owned-and-operated businesses across the globe since 2003. Additionally, many of those businesses have now expanded to multiple locations and are both supporting employees and providing much needed products and services to local and national citizens alike.
Real World Application
In the once thriving village of Birshi, erratic rainfall over the course of several years left farmers in the once-thriving village of Birshi with drastically reduced harvests. Many of the villagers were suffering from malnutrition, including severe vitamin B deficiencies, and the infrastructure of Birshi had significantly deteriorated due to a lack of resources with which to make repairs. Leadership Initiatives saw in Birshi an opportunity to help subsistence farmers become business owners with the skills and resources necessary to develop a cash crop unaffected by drought. One of the ideas to arrive out of this process was the addition of fish farms. While fish farms are not native to the Birshi area, they are not uncommon within the State of Bauchi.
Leadership Initiatives interviewed 35 farmers to become part of its 2009 business creation program, and accepted five. These entrepreneurs then went on to take an intensive business training course in order to learn how to own and operate a business.
Working in tandem with the Bauchi State Agricultural Development Program, Leadership Initiatives hired fish farmers from Kaduna State to teach local farmers how to not only raise catfish, but to harvest and sell them on the open market.
While business preparation and training was taking place, L.I. constructed holding tanks for the catfish on land donated by the Birshi Village Head. While land was a necessity, water was also required in order to actually fill the tanks with fish that could be sustained. As water is not a readily available resource, a well was drilled and outfitted with pumping equipment to provide a steady source of water throughout the growing season.
To ensure the highest returns for our farmers, LI staff, along with the fish farming entrepreneurs, developed contacts with neighboring communities to provided pricing and other relevant information at the time of the harvest. This network of contacts enabled our farmers to maximize profits by shipping directly to markets where catfish prices are at their highest.
With individual community investors and LI contributing the start-up funds for tanks and seed fish, our business owners were able to harvest an initial crop of 840 catfish, yielding significant profits at market. Additionally, fish that were not large enough to sell were utilized as a food source throughout the village. The bulk of the profits (70%) from the first harvest were saved to reinvest in the project, allowing more farmers and their families to participate in the cooperative, with the remaining 30% distributed equally among the participating farmers.
UPDATE: In 2014 the same fish farmers continue to grow their fish farms. Profits yielded from harvests have been reinvested into new L. I. business with loans and program support. Through these investments, new jobs have been created for community members and more than 24 children were able to afford an education, an endeavor previously unobtainable by conventional standards.
We create honest, self-reliant leaders equipped to renew their communities from the ground up.
We are diverse, independent leaders dedicated to creating lasting change.
Learn how LI started and how we are changing the world together!
Leadership Initiatives works: the stories, faces and numbers that prove it.