Volunteer Jeremy Elliot-Engel recently completed a youth entrepreneurship assignment with Winrock’s F2F program in Nepal. His blog post, below, offers candid insights from his trip:
Entrepreneurship is not only something you learn, but something you must do.
Namaste from Nepal. If Nepal is one thing, it is a country of smiles, optimism and positivity.
This was my first time volunteering with the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) project. It has been an incredible privilege to work with the Nepal country team and the students in Chitwan district. This was not my first time traveling abroad providing education or training. What I have valued throughout this experience has been that it has been asset based and has supported the strengths of the local individuals and hosts.
My project was training university agriculture majors on entrepreneurship. The hosts were the Eco Minions and Prikiti Prahawa, both different organizations that have organized around agricultural and environmental concerns. After talking with the youth leadership, I quickly, was able to identify the training needs to the fundamentals of business. I am confident these exceptional students (all 108 of them) will be able to recreate this training and spread the material, throughout the University but also into the community.
As agriculture majors at the local public agriculture university, they had content knowledge, but needed help to identify business concepts and how to create business plans. We also spent significant time on writing and practicing SMART goals, so that the training would be valuable to their personal lives as well as in business.
During the intensive 20 hour training, students often had their first taste of experiential learning, following the 4-H motto “learning by doing.” On numerous occasions on the first day or two, I heard “when will we start learning” or “we have so much to cover, let’s do less activities and more learning.” By the end of the training, the students were saying “That was the best training I have had, it was so much fun and I have learned so much.” The learning had crept up on them, while they were busy making marketing portfolios or playing Telephone to experience what marketing message diffusion appears like. Because the content was interactive and student driven, it was able to be relevant to the challenges and issues that occur locally.
Most of these students still have years of University studying to complete before they are able to go into the world and start a new entrepreneurship business. However, I am confident that their exposure to entrepreneurial thinking, understanding the importance of goals, maintaining personal, organization and business financial records and the many other concepts we covered will be utilized as they continue through their schooling.
I was energized by the can-do attitude and desire for improvement by every one of my learners during the training. There was a practical recognition of the challenges ahead and a willingness to tackle it. I made the students promise me that if they made it BIG, then I expected an invitation back to Nepal. They all promised, and one day, I am sure I will be returning to Nepal. Dhanyabad (Thank You).
Here are some photos of Jeremy in action: