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“I Am a Leader, I Am an Entrepreneur”: Blogging from Zambia

Lubwe, Zambia: Saturday, April 18th -  Minutes before the Impact Fair starts, the students from the Leadership & Enterprise Course are practicing their presentations and fine-tuning their posters, putting the finishing touches on drawings of chickens and cell phones and overstuffed couches.

Dressed in Camfed T-shirts with the words, “I am a leader” on the front, and “I am an entrepreneur” on the back, students have set up stalls on the parched grass and the concrete steps of the classrooms at Lubwe High School. Agape Sisters, who sell second-hand clothing, have brought with them a bag of shiny rayon blouses and T-shirts emblazoned with the logos of famous athletic teams and foreign companies, which they have hung from the eaves of a classroom block. Progress Group have started a lending scheme based on the Grameen Bank model, and they plan to display the meticulous records they keep in their ledger book. And the women from Big Sisters Restaurant have procured a bag of cassava from the kitchen staff so they can prepare – and sell – nshima, a Zambian staple food. One group of women has posted flyers on classroom doors to attract visitors to their displays: “Come hear the story of Fipelwa’s campaign against early marriage – free to all,” proclaims one hand-lettered sign on the cinderblock wall outside the staff resource room.

The Fair, the brainchild of a group of MBA students at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, is designed to give participants an opportunity to celebrate their achievements in launching and running successful enterprises, to help them think about how to measure impact and to encourage them to communicate their success effectively to stakeholders. The day before the Fair, the women were asked to assess whether their project had made an impact in each of five areas: social; financial; learning; pride and recognition; and growth and confidence. Those self-evaluations are now displayed on flip charts at each group’s table, so that group members can reference them in their presentations. Course trainers, Camfed staff, and the students themselves will be ranking each project with a system of colored stars – red for social impact, yellow for financial impact, and so on.

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