Business Development Services

The Business Development Services (BDS) project of the International Assistance Mission (IAM) began in 2008 working with low income women living in a very traditional family environment. These are women aged between 14 and about 40 who have never been to school and who very rarely go beyond the immediate locality of their homes. Because they are illiterate they have difficulty interacting with society and feel socially inadequate. They learn handicraft skills at home, but do not know how to use these skills to earn money. BDS adopted a two-fold strategy of teaching basic business awareness and also literacy and numeracy skills to encourage confidence, self-esteem and the ability to interact with society at a higher level. We offer a one year course, five days a week for two hours each day.

The project provides very basic business awareness training in a ‘hands on’ way. We have developed some basic teaching materials including some simple illustrated ‘picture book’ type of teaching materials. Each 'picture book' has a complete business related story with simple line drawings which teach some aspect of business skill, such as market awareness, quality assurance, pricing, costing, etc. As part of the course the teachers sometimes take selected students into the local bazaar and through coaching, mentoring, encouraging, supporting and practical guidance help them compare quality and prices of materials and thread available. They also talk to many shopkeepers, asking what products they sell most of and what they would be willing to buy from them. None of these women would have had the confidence or the initiative to approach shopkeepers without the help and support of their teachers. Now they have done it once they can continue and build a regular income from their business activities.