Some thoughts after completing the first Entrepreneurship pilot in Zarqa, along with Al-Tareeq (The Path).
Last Thursday marked the end of Fikra 3al Mashi's first Entrepreneurship pilot with UK-based nonprofit, Al-Tareeq. The program lasted 10 days, and even though the last couple of days were long and tiring under the weight of Ramadan, it was an outstanding beginning.
As mentioned in our last update, we began the course with some basic team-building and problem-solving exercises and skills. We tried to encourage the students to think critically about problems in the classroom, and then later, in their communities, that they could solve. Some groups came up with schemes to teach music using home-made instruments, while others got down to business, and built neat containers for the scattered plastic cups surrounding the water coolers.
Towards the end of the first week, we began transitioning into entrepreneurship in more explicit terms. We began talking of business plans and SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis, and other topics usually discussed in Entrepreneurship 101 classes. Except with an audience such as ours, we kept it relevant by emphasizing that the students themselves are capable of implementing such projects, without having to defer to adults or investors.
The second week was a culmination of everything the students learned, and for the entire 5 days, the students had to work on their own project, and develop a solution to a problem from scratch. They began by brainstorming for problems individually, and then we grouped them together based on interests. In the end, there were five teams: one trying to print affordable Manga (Japanese comic books) magazines off the internet, one trying to give out water and dates, and additionally, sell small meals to those stuck in traffic when it's time to break the Ramadan fast, and a group that's trying to create a club for runners around Zarqa, where members join for a nominal fee.
Each team began by brainstorming and mapping out their ideas, and then went on to filling out a business plan worksheet, with questions about the goal, the necessary resources, revenue, expenses, value added, and available skills and required skills. Students were encouraged to use SWOT to fine-tune their answers. Then, students developed a concise mission statement, and a detailed action strategy that outlined the exact steps they would take in order to plan for and implement their projects. After that, students created a Facebook page. Finally, we discussed the business proposal, and prepared them to pitch their ideas to us, and to employ rhetorical devices in order to persuade us.
In the end, each team presented their ideas, and received a certificate.
The project ended well, and it was just as educational for us as it was for the students. We learned a lot, and saw a lot of room for improvement. First, we noticed the importance of combining entrepreneurship with our SOLE pedagogy, in order to allow students to use the internet more effectively in the process of learning about entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial endeavours around the world. We also think the SOLE will be a better vessel for teaching the basic critical thinking skills that were necessary for entrepreneurship.
We also hope that next time we will be able to fund some of their projects, at least to get them started. This brings up the seminal question of sustainability, and how to keep in touch with some of the students. Next time, we hope to promise 50 JOD ($70) to the winning teams, and present them the money over incremental instalments, in order to make sure they are progressing on their projects.
Read more about the project at Al-Tareeq's blog to see how they covered the last 10 days.
But for now, until next time!
Special thanks to the Al-Tareeq co-founders, Aboudi Al-Qattan, and Hamza Bilbeisi, for their help, initiative, and permission to use their photos :)