In September 2022 the Agripreneurship Alliance and Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) signed a service agreement for the Agripreneurship Alliance to provide a Training of Trainer course for participants from within the PBL-BioAfrica programme. This Training of Trainer course was to be facilitated between the 31 October and 4 November 2022 at Mulungushi University, Great North Road Campus, Kabwe in parallel to a PBL-BioAfrica Board meeting and was to enable participants to facilitate the Business Readiness course within their universities and communities of interest. The Training of Trainer course was to engage 20 participants from 5 Kenyan and Zambian universities including: Egerton University, Mulungushi University, South Eastern Kenya University, University of Nairobi, and the University of Zambia. This report will consider the organisation and facilitation of the Training of Trainer and make recommendations for the next steps.
This report is based upon the reflection of the Agripreneurship Alliance both in-action and after the event and is informed by an online survey completed by 15 participants in the week ensuing the Training of Trainer course. Weighted scores are provided from the evaluation undertaken by participants, and it is worthwhile to note that the Business Readiness Training of Trainer course was awarded an overall score of 4.6 out of 5.0.
The Training of Trainer course programme was designed to enable participants to become familiar with the curriculum and facilitation of the Business Readiness course to be ready to implement the Training in their local universities and communities of interest.
The first day (Monday 31 October 2021) of the course was focused on forming the group, agreeing ‘norms of behaviour’ and sharing the details of the Curriculum Pack to implement the Business Readiness Course. A USB stick was provided to each participant which included all the documents, templates, training materials, as well as resources on various aspects of agriculture. A Case Study was also provided with exemplar templates completed to facilitate the practical implementation of the tools. This Case Study gave the example of a honey business in Northern Uganda.
The Business Readiness course includes the following modules: Introduction and the Sustainable Business Canvas Exploring your Market Building a Marketing Plan Identifying key resources and partnerships Financial Model & cost structure Raising Capital Record Keeping & Bookkeeping The Human Touch The Art of the Pitch Bringing it all together
The second day (Tuesday 1 November 2022) started by exploring the Hopes and Fears of participants for the training week and establishing a group contract. It also provided the opportunity to introduce the Sustainable Business Canvas, creating several ‘business teams’ who continued to work together throughout the entire event. The financial tools inherent within the Business Readiness course were also introduced.
The third and fourth days were focused on practise, enabling participants to engage with the curriculum, course tools and teaching methodology. Previously, participants had been placed, randomly, into working pairs and been given one lesson from the Business Readiness course from which they had to prepare and facilitate a 45-minute-long session with course participants. After each session had been facilitated, reflection and feedback were provided from the entire group with concrete suggestions for further improvements.
For the majority of the participants, the approach of interactive learning was new, so these sessions provided an opportunity to practise, get constructive feedback on how to further improve, whilst at the same time getting familiar with the course materials. The content and running order for these interactive sessions follows:
Wednesday 2nd November
Thursday 3rd November 9.30
The fifth, and final day (Friday 4 November) was used to wrap the course up, to explore and reflect upon learning, to address any issues and to celebrate with the awarding of certificates. The last exercise of the day demonstrated the warmth and positive regard that had developed in the group. The task was for everyone to write one or two short notes of appreciation for someone in the group outlining a positive interaction or moment. These notes were then placed into named envelopes and sealed; each envelope was given to the appropriate named participant with the instructions to open when they got home. This exercise took over an hour, working into lunch time, as people wanted to share their regards for each other.
This Training of Trainer was designed to be experiential, the active participation of everyone was needed to ensure the quality of the shared learning experience. This approach was welcomed by participants, who gave the following weighted scores in the post-event evaluation:
20 people were nominated to attend the Training of Trainer course by their universities, with 18 people participating and being awarded certificates. The two nominees who failed to attend were both members of the host university and this highlights one of the risks inherent in hosting an event of this nature on a partner University campus rather than on a ‘neutral’ location as one participant wrote in the evaluation. It can be very difficult for hosts to fully engage with a training programme when they receive requests from the university or have to deal with issues of practical logistics. The balance between cost and benefit suggests that hosting an event such as this at a partner university is of great benefit, but arrangement should be made by the senior management within a partnership, such as the board of PBL-BioAfrica, that enables local participants to be fully engaged and not be distracted by local demands.
Participants were asked what they needed to be able to facilitate the Business Readiness course within their home universities and the communities of interest. Three key themes are identified in the post-training evaluation:
The participants feel that the Business Readiness course is a highly appropriate tool for their use in supporting agri-food entrepreneurs in their universities and beyond
The participants require the support of senior management to provide the time that will be needed to facilitate this course with identified target groups as a part of their work within their university
A small level of cash support is needed to enable them to access the resources that they need to facilitate the Business Readiness course with the designated beneficiaries. This can include non-cost support such as access to training rooms, but also cash to purchase training materials such as paper, pens etc, and incentives for participants such as refreshments and snacks
The Agripreneurship Alliance is a learning organisation, every opportunity is taken to improve and enhance our engagements with stakeholders and clients. We were privileged to be able to support the PBL-BioAfrica programme through the introduction of the Business Readiness course and enhancing the capacity of faculty members of the five partner universities through facilitation of a Training of Trainer course. This event was not without its challenges, including a very short window of time to organize an event of this scale and complexity, and various unforeseen problems. However, the core focus of the event was to provide a quality learning experience for all participants. Through the positive engagement of everyone, the good will that was demonstrated and the shared passion and enthusiasm for the topic at hand ensured that this Business Readiness Training of Training course was facilitated to an exceptional degree and everyone had a positive and impactful experience.