Women artisans in northern Vietnam empowered through entrepreneurship training.
Artistri Sud Leadership Train-the-Trainer (TTT) and Social Entrepreneurship Training (ASSET)
Ha Giang, Vietnam Dec 1-2 and 3-7, 2018
Leadership Train-the-Trainer program, December 1-2, 2018
Ha Giang, Vietnam
Eight women attended this training, which was a preparation for their role as Team Leaders (TLs) in the Artistri Sud Social Entrepreneurship Training program, held subsequently. Saturday’s program covered the topics: leading and facilitating groups, dealing with challenges in the class room (such as managing difficult participants, empowering techniques for encouraging participation from quiet participants, etc), understanding the training materials, and related techniques and strategies for leading and facilitating group discussions and learning, and understanding and using evaluation and assessment tools. Training began at 9 am and concluded just before 9 pm both days.
The second day of the program, the team leaders learned how to facilitate and deliver several specific activities which were to be presented in the Artistri Sud Social Entrepreneurship Training (ASSET) program from Monday to Friday. The group participated in activities on market segmentation, a brainstorming “world café” activity on generating sales leads, role-playing an approach to a prospective client, communication/providing constructive feedback, and sales techniques. This preparation provided an opportunity for TLs to consider how to explain concepts and activities in Hmong, and exposed them to co-facilitation opportunities.
Team Leader Phin (second from left) explains an exercise to her attentive group.
The success of the TTT program is evaluated qualitatively by the training team throughout the week. The criteria for evaluation is the success with which participants grasp the essential learnings of the activity, and are able to apply them in the exercises in class. Seven of the eight participants demonstrated strong leadership skills and a commitment to the learning of their peers; four in particular showed exemplary leadership abilities, a strong understanding of the content, and persistence in ensuring their peers also grasped the subject matter. Three younger team leaders (16-18 years old) demonstrated a keen interest in learning, but struggled somewhat with leadership of their teams, particularly with elder members of their teams. Occasionally these three deferred to their elders, which had been flagged as a cultural tendency. One participant in the leadership training demonstrated little commitment to the learning of her team members, participated little in class, and did little to facilitate knowledge-sharing or participation on the part of her group.
ASSET entrepreneurship program, December 3-7, 2018
Ha Giang, Vietnam
37 women completed the entrepreneurship training program; this includes seven of the Team Leaders who attended the weekend Leadership training. The objective of this entrepreneurship program is to increase income and empowerment within one year. Indicators of empowerment include: increased participation in community initiatives or groups, increased influence over household expenditures, increased self-confidence and feelings of inclusion, and increased positive impact on others. Economic indicators will include sales, savings, and improved household conditions.
Over the five days of the entrepreneurship training, participants engaged in learning and activities which developed their capacity to innovate products which correspond to market needs, and present those products in a manner which is likely to result in increased sales and revenue. Related and foundational topics included: basic accounting, communications, constructive feedback, costing/pricing, identifying market needs, and planning and objective-setting, among others.
Assessment was continuous throughout the week, and included: quantitative data (specific exercises with an identified learning output being evaluated by the training team, ‘tests’ and assignments, surveys, etc); qualitative data collected during the workshop from the plenary group, during focus group sessions, and one-on-one interviews with selected participants; and expert observations, which were shared in separate reports by four training team members. Feedback was also given to participants continuously, both to the larger group as well as to smaller working groups via team leaders and through focus group discussions held daily.
Learning objectives and short-term empowerment outcome targets were met. By the end of the week, 19 of the women identified themselves as “entrepreneurs”, as compared to only 2 before the training, indicating an important shift in perceptions of self-efficacy, agency and capacity; ¾ of participants experienced a similar shift, as demonstrated by the increase in the number of roles they identified with.
Daily focus groups allow for more in-depth assessment of participant progress.
Increase in confidence and self-efficacy
The women demonstrated an observable increase in confidence over the five days, which is a critical element to adopting new skills and behaviours and learning. 3-5 women who had previously never held writing instruments learned to use a pencil, and were able to reproduce numbers and produce sketches; on days 2-5, 5-7 women daily who had not spoken at all in plenary on Day 1 raised their hands and spoke to the group of 40. Over 15 particularly reserved women were targeted for confidence-building, and these all participated actively not only in group activities but also by speaking in front of the larger group on subsequent days.
Although results from quantitative assessments during the training were consistent with results from past trainings, the training team occasionally had some concerns about the level of comprehension of some participants. Language barriers made it difficult in some cases for the senior trainers to grasp the level of comprehension among participants; on the other hand, participants seemed on the whole more reserved than previous cohorts and less communicative generally (this was attributed by the team to low confidence linked to low literacy levels), making it challenging to confidently assess their levels of understanding. Data collected during and after the one year coaching program will provide further insights.
The training met participants’ expectations. Simple surveys were completed after each module and at the end of the training; most were completed in small groups, as the TL explained each question and collected answers from group members. 100% of participants indicated they were “completely” satisfied with the content of the training and the quality of the trainer. 100% said they felt they would now have more influence over decision-making at work and at home. 95% of participants “completely” agreed that the new skills and knowledge they learned in the training would help them to work better, while the remaining 5% felt the skills and knowledge would help them “a lot”. Most participants had never participated in such a training before, and many had little or no formal education at all, and expressed gratitude and happiness with their experience. Participants who completed the five-day entrepreneurship training left with a Participant Manual to support them as they strive to implement the lessons learned into their business practices. The manual includes templates, checklists and other tools which they can use to develop and present new products effectively. They also kept their portfolio with written (sketched) work, a notepad with their own notes, and a pen, all of which were provided by Artistri Sud.
Team Leader Chu now sees herself as a leader (left) and a businesswoman–a significant shift in self-efficacy.
In conclusion, the ASSET training was considered a success and the training team are confident that the women will demonstrate improvements in product innovations and sales over the coming year.
By Jennifer Lonergan, PhD, with additional research and reporting by on-site team members Fred Schick, Phuong Pham Ha and Kristina Babic. Artistri Sud coaches collect data from participants throughout the year following the 5-day program; in the fall of 2019–one year after the implementation of the 5-day program, a summative evaluation will be conducted.
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