African Community – Business literacy and entrepreneurial skills training

African Community Action PlanEthnic Council officers attended the Shepparton Business Centre to hear about a program designed to assist and enable  the African community with business literacy and entrepreneurial skills training.  The project is  being run by RMIT School of Management, Program Leaders –  Dr Nthati Rametse and Dr Michael Muchiri and is expected to commence in Shepparton later this year.

Overview of the project

In 2017, The Victorian government launched the African Communities Action Plan. The African Communities Action Plan, which was developed by the African Ministerial Working Group, comprising of 21 professionals, community leaders and young people, emphasised entrepreneurship development as one of the priority areas. The African Communities Action Plan calls for funding for community start-ups, particularly by young people and women, to enter the global market; and support for small businesses to become medium to large businesses, including thorough better marketing strategies. It is thus apparent that training in entrepreneurship development is needed for African small business owners, particularly in export activities.

Settling in a different country has proved to be a challenge in finding employment, due to immigrants’ unrecognised qualifications/education, their narrow networks and discriminatory recruitment procedures (Rath 2000). This has pushed members of discriminated groups into self-employment. Related studies on entrepreneurship among African migrants in Footscray, Dandenong, Springvale and Noble Park in Victoria, found that most started their businesses because they had:

  • “no other option”,
  • “lacked sources of income”; and,
  • “poor education for a job”.

This project involves the design and running of an innovative Business Literacy and Entrepreneurial Skills training program for 25 current and potential African business operators, who have not previously received substantial support through government programs in Shepparton, Victoria.

  • The program involves an extended course period. Rather than the traditional one or two compressed seminars, which have limited long-term traction, the training will consist of six sessions. This will allow participants ample time to reflect on learnings and work on practical applications, which they will adopt to their individual contexts.
  • The program will employ culturally sensitive approaches, which will build class participation and course completion. Various methodological approaches will be applied to deliver this program (e.g. welcoming and closing ceremonies, communication using mobile apps for chats; and course website) to keep participants engaged.
  • The program team will maintain active contact with participants up to four months after the completion of the course. The website and chat apps will be maintained to encourage participants to apply learnings in their endeavours, and to deliver current and relevant business materials.
  • While a basic subject structure guides will be developed to guide participant on course delivery, topics/resources can be added/highlighted through continuous feedback from participants. Thus, rather than generic topics, the syllabus will be tailored according to what participants may identify and prioritise to engage in.
  • Further, the use of experienced/successful business operators, particularly from the African business community as guest speakers aims to attract interest and provide inspirational role models.

Here is a video of an earlier instance of this project in Melbourne:

It is expected the program will commence in Shepparton later this year. Watch this space for calls to participate.


African Community Action Plan
Graduates of the African Communities Action Plan: Zeineb Mahmud, Halima Mohamed, Deeqo Tahiili and Natasha Zantsi

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