The Learning Post: insights from UK Aid Match

Tailoring project interventions to a target community

Episode Summary

This is the fourth episode in a series focused entirely on sustainable wealth creation projects and how to overcome some of the common challenges they present. We are joined by Rick Magill, an expert in this field, who provides some of his insights and experience. In this episode, Rick discusses identifying how much money is needed to ensure a new occupation is viable and how to choose the right job that will successfully embed in the target community.

Episode Transcription

Ben Anderson (00:10):

Welcome to the Learning Post, a podcast dedicated to sharing insights from the UK Aid Match and UK Aid Direct funds. My name is Ben Anderson and I'm the Communication Specialist for the UK Aid Match and your host for this episode. This is the fourth episode in our series, focused on sustainable wealth creation in projects with Rick Magill, an expert in this field. If you haven't already, it is recommended that you listen to other episodes, which tackle how to undertake effective market research and building a good business case.


Ben Anderson (00:38):

In this podcast, we discuss how to tailor project interventions to a target community. We will cover identifying how much money is needed to ensure a new occupation is viable and how to choose the right job that will successfully embed in the target community. Rick, you've mentioned previously that another common challenge of sustainable wealth creation projects is quantifying how much money is required to be generated to make a new occupation viable and sustainable. How would you go about getting this calculation correct?


Rick Magill (01:09):

I think it's really critical to understand the scale of the financial challenge from the outset. So what is the financial gap that these people, families, or communities need to close? And that's the difference between what they earn today and how much they would need to earn in order to get by and meet their needs and hopefully have a little leftover to save or invest for the future. And the importance of doing this is to gather some data which will help to quantify the size of that gap for a certain number of people. And then the project can be designed in order to close that gap.


Rick Magill (01:51):

And that's the really important thing to do that making sure that the team has a deep understanding of these communities, the scale of the financial challenge that they face and coming up with solutions that will realistically incredibly close that financial gap for them within the lifetime of the project. There's a trend across the development sector, which is reflected in some of the projects on UK Aid Match, which is about finding ways to address the illegal wildlife trade and find alternatives for families that give them a reliable source of income.


Rick Magill (02:27):

A general example of that might be that there could be an opportunity to help families set up small businesses that generates an income for them that makes the temptation to get involved in the illegal wildlife trade much less attractive. But in order to do that successfully, it's important to understand how much more families that need to earn in order for the illegal wildlife trade to become less attractive. And then look for opportunities for small business ideas that could help them to close that gap.


Rick Magill (03:06):

So that would be the recommendation for the future to help the team quantify the size of that financial gap. Now, obviously when working with poor communities in remote areas, it can be very difficult to gather reliable data on the amount of money that they earn today and how much they need for the future. So I think it's important to stress that this doesn't have to be an exact science. We're just looking for reasonable, credible estimates of the size of the financial gap that needs to be closed to give an indication of the scale of the challenge.


Ben Anderson (03:37):

And how would you go about identifying suitable jobs for a target community?


Rick Magill (03:42):

Projects typically fall into two categories when it comes to employment. It's either trying to help people into self-employment, where they run their own business, or to help them into paid employment where they work for a local organisation. But either way, it's very important to check that the numbers are doable and that there are enough real opportunities for those types of jobs, for types of people involved in those communities.


Rick Magill (04:18):

The numbers are often quite ambitious. So we often see projects that hope to help thousands of people into employment or self-employment. But in reality, there's a limit to, for example, how many hairdressing salons a town can sustain, or how many more restaurants that could open up and still make a reasonable amount of money. Or looking to local employment, there's a limit to how many women, for example, might be able to find a job in a local textile company.


Rick Magill (04:54):

So something like a pie chart can be really helpful to have those challenging discussions about what the breakdown of numbers should be. So if you start with, let's say 3000 people, how many slices are there to that pie of the different types of jobs that those people could do? How big are the various slices of that pie? Once you've done that, it can then be much more focused on the type of training that's provided for those people in the appropriate numbers.


Ben Anderson (05:21):

Talking of training that segues nicely into my next question, which is what is the approach when designing a project with a training element?


Rick Magill (05:28):

Well, the real intent of all of these sustainable wealth creation projects is to help people to set up businesses, get paid employment, establish social enterprises that creates that reliable source of income and positive changes in the community. And as you might imagine, training features heavily in many of those projects, I would say the vast majority. But there's an opportunity to improve the approach or the explanation of the approach to demonstrate how that training will lead to people being in work or setting up businesses or whatever the objective might be.


Rick Magill (06:13):

And we see it quite a lot that the training is well intentioned, but the grant holders haven't explained as well as they could, how that's going to happen in clear practical terms. So a simple way of doing this is just to try to have a schematic diagram, with the completion of the training program on the left hand side of the page and people being in paid employment, or self-employment on the right hand side of the page. And what happens in between, how do they make that jump to ensure that it happens rather than hope that it happens? And that's something that I think could be done better across the sector.


Ben Anderson (06:58):

If you enjoyed this podcast and want to learn more about sustainable wealth creation interventions, check out one of our previous episodes, which cover team composition, market research, and much more. Thanks for listening.