The DBSP's Post Training Follow Up & Mentoring Process

The Follow-Up Mentoring Part Of The Program And How It Works

For any development of this nature, the follow-up and mentoring process is absolutely critical to on-going success. The DBSP has built in a minimum of 12 months of follow up into each and every Program it runs. Each graduate learner is contacted by their Trainer/ Facilitator, or by a Follow Up Mentor on a regular basis during the twelve months after graduating and assistance is given as required. After this, the Trainer/ Facilitator, or Follow Up Mentor is available on request to help any graduate learner. At the 3 month mark, all learners are assessed and if they are running a business at this point, that shows a measure of sustainability, they are awarded a Certificate of competence.

An important part of the follow up is the establishment of links to financing and other organisations, such as suppliers, skills trainers, resource specialists, and formal companies to whom the graduate learners can be introduced. The establishing of these linkages helps the new businesses to develop & grow.

Graduates can also be pointed in the right direction to gain access business loans where necessary.

The DBSP maintains a data base, wherein we capture detailed information about each learner and track the progress of his/her business. The data base has accurate statistics on all our graduates. We make these statistics available from time to time.

For the BBS Program, there are at least five points of contact, or stages, where each graduate is located and offered support and mentoring. For the MBS Program there are seven contact points. For the ABS Program there are many more contact points - mainly on a need-to-have basis.

During the visits the businesses are evaluated through a series of questions that are asked to determine whether that person has started a business, what the status of the business is and what assistance the graduate (new business owner) needs to grow the business. During these interviews, the new business owner will have to produce evidence of the business that he/she is currently running and his/her records (cash book, income statement) will need to be seen. A summary of these stages follow:

STAGE 1 - The Programme Trainer/Facilitator or Follow Up Mentor goes out and locates each graduate one month after their programme has been completed, and ascertains whether the graduate has started up a business, how the business is going, and determines what the graduate learner needs in order to ensure that his/her business is stable. This stage is applicable to all 3 of the DBSP's programs

STAGE 2 - A month later (eight to nine weeks after a programme has been completed), the Trainer/ Facilitator or Follow Up Mentor again locates all of the programme graduates and establishes how each of them is doing and whether any assistance can be given. (This stage is applicable all 3 DBSP Programs

STAGE 3 - A further two months later (four months since the end of the programme) the Trainer/ Facilitator or Follow Up Mentor once again seeks out all the programme graduates. This time the purpose is to assess each graduate in order to establish the kind of business that the graduate is running and to run a refresher training session by way of the Financial Management Board Game to assist the learner with financial management and record keeping skills. The HIV/AIDS Board Game is also trained at this point if applicable. After this training, those learners that are running a business are awarded their certificates of competence by the DBSP. During this visit the businesses are assessed as to whether the business needs some form of loan to take the business to its next level. If this is the case, the business owner is "sign posted" to a micro loan agency. (Again this stage is applicable to all DBSP'S Programs)

STAGE 4 - Four months later ( eight months after the programme completion date), the graduates are again visited. Another assessment is done to check on the status of their businesses and to offer assistance. At this point the new business owners are encouraged to be in touch with 3 to 5 other DBSP 'graduates', so that they can form themselves into a support team. The Trainer/Facilitator or Follow Up Mentor then works with this support team.

In this stage, the BBS Programme and MBS Program follow up visits differ in that whereas the BBS Program has only this 1 follow up visit, the MBS Program learners are followed up every 2 month - i.e. Another 4 times during the remaining 9 months.

STAGE 5 - A further four months later (twelve months after a program has been completed ) a final assessment is done on each business. During this interview, it will also be ascertained what type of relationship the new business owner wants to maintain with the DBSP, and how we can help in furthering the knowledge, skills and attitudes of each participant. Further programs and courses will also be recommended to the new business owners for them to improve their businesses. The new business owner will also be encouraged to make better use of the linkages provided. At this point the importance of the support teams are also emphasised. All the business owners of a support team get together and plan so that the team can meet regularly. During this visit, a post training survey is usually conducted to measure the impact of the training on the learner and by how much the learner and his/her family has benefited from the training in terms of assets and financial well-being. (This stage is applicable to all the DBSP's Programs)

Other factors to bear in mind about the DBSP Follow-up processes are:

In ideal cases, the Program Trainer/Facilitator and/or the Follow Up Mentor for a community, lives in that community, or in an adjacent community. This means that he/she is on hand, is highly visible and is contactable by most of the programme graduates (new business owners). He/she is, thus, available to the new business owners from that community on an ongoing basis.

The Community Based Organisation with whom we have a strategic partnership is encouraged and helped to establish a Business Support or Advice Centre. This is staffed by the DBSP Trainer/Facilitator and Follow Up Mentor if the area has one. All DBSP activities are co-ordinated from this Centre. The Centre also serves as a meeting point where the new business owners can come for business counseling and programme aftercare. All business counseling and follow-up is facilitated by the Centre and it also serves as a resource centre where the new business owner can get information and be networked with others that they may need in order to assist them.

The new business owners can be networked with other business specialists and are assisted to form links with financial and other organisations.

Links to financing and other organisations, such as suppliers, skills trainers, resource specialists, are on hand so that the new business owners can receive assistance when necessary.

Access to micro business loans:

Where possible we try to link the programme graduates with a reputable micro finance organisation. However, we stress during the training that if a learner can start and run a business without having to rely on a loan, then this is the preferred way to go.

Monitoring and tracking each new business owner's progress via a National data base.

All DBSP graduates are tracked using a data base. The follow up information collected in the field is fed into a central computer and the results are used to compile a national statistical body of data on how effective the training is. Data such as how many learners have started up a business activity of their own, what businesses these are and in what sector, turnover of the businesses, number of people employed and so on is collected. The information is also used to evaluate and improve the programmes themselves. This data base also helps us to coordinate the follow up process and to provide us information as to where we can help each graduate. Finally maintaining a data base also makes it possible to report to sponsors on how the graduates are performing. The data base also helps us to control the payment of follow up money to the relevant Trainer/Facilitator and / or Follow Up Mentor.

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Success Indicator Measurement

Currently the DBSP has two ways in which it measures success of its learners; firstly, the fact that the learner has started up a business that shows a measure of sustainability and secondly the conducting of a pre-training and post training survey. The DBSP is not satisfied to only measure its successes based upon the fact that a business has been started by the learner. We would like to see whether there has been any change in the lifestyle of the learner, and in the learner's home situation, post the training. As the learner is part of a wider group of people, the DBSP would like to see whether the training has impacted this wider group of people and not just the learner him/her self.

Before we physically start with the training, the Trainer/Facilitator can administer a pre-training survey to each of the learners. This pre-training survey is designed to collect information about the environment in which the learner lives, paying special attention to the household and the situation around the household pertaining to things such as the economic situation of the household, how many members there are in the household, how many of them have an income, whether there is any ongoing sicknesses in the household (Such as HIV/AIDS), what sort of asset base the household has, whether their children are going to school, whether there are any orphans in the household, the eating habits of the household and, of course, are any businesses being run by any member of the household. Once the training is over and the 12 month follow up process has come to an end, a modified version of the pre-training survey, called the post training survey, is administered to each of the learners, by a DBSP person not related in any way to the training, or to the area the training has taken place in. This assessor is contracted in by the DBSP at the relevant time to conduct the post-training survey and to interview the learners. The same criteria as are mentioned above are again looked at to see what changes have taken place in the way the household's economic situation is - whether it has improved, or whether it has deteriorated. We also want to measure whether the households that contains the learners are eating better, schooling their children better, have increased their asset base, are saving money and whether the general well-being of the family has increased. Once we have this information from the post training survey, we are able to compare it with the information collected from the pre-training survey, as an indication of how much the household has benefited since the business has been started.

The information collected provides valuable data on the training intervention and its successes, and/or downfalls. The survey provides valuable information to the Donor Funder Organisations and categorises exactly how successful the training has been. The information also helps us to 'tweak' our training interventions, so that they remain both relevant and up to date.

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