The Learning Post: insights from UK Aid Direct and UK Aid Match

Team build and market research: successful sustainable wealth creation interventions

Episode Summary

Continuing our series on successful sustainable wealth creation interventions in projects, we focus on the importance of the make up of teams and conducting market research.

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 UK Aid Match and your host for this episode. This is the second episode in our series focused on sustainable wealth creation in projects. If you haven't already, it is recommended that you listen to our first episode, which introduces the concept of sustainable wealth creation, and our main contributor, Rick Magill. In this podcast, Rick highlights the importance of team composition and how to conduct market research.

 

Ben Anderson (00:45):

Rick, if you were looking to set up a sustainable wealth creation project, what type of team would you put together to ensure the success of that project?

 

Rick Magill (00:52):

I think it's really important that there's an appropriate mix of skills on the team. And, that included in that, you need to have some successful entrepreneurs from the local area. The reason for that is that they bring a different skillset and a different mindset to the project. They're going to have a much deeper understanding of the practical challenges of creating and growing a business in a developing country. They're going to have local market knowledge and insights that they can bring to the team. They're likely to have business connections and other connections that are going to be of advantage to the project. And they're going to bring some skills that will come onto later that are really important in developing business cases and doing market research, and so on. That really is the bread and butter of entrepreneurs, but is not common from people with other backgrounds. So that would be the real recommendation. Just make sure you've got enough of the entrepreneurs on the team in order to achieve what you want to do.

 

Ben Anderson (01:54):

Another factor you mentioned in our previous podcast was effective market research. How would you go about doing it if you were setting up one of these projects today?

 

Rick Magill (02:03):

Well, market research is really critical because it enables you to assess the viability of a new product, or service, or little business that you might be wanting to set up. And, it involves research that's conducted directly with your target market, with potential customers who might buy that type of product or service. And it helps organizations to understand what their needs are, what their preferences are, and then tap into that. The market research provides critical information about the whole business landscape, and whether this new opportunity could be viable. It can tell you if the new idea is going to be well received by target customers, and the type of clients that you want to reach. So, important questions are things like, "Who are the customers, and where are they, and are they likely to buy this thing at the necessary volumes and prices in order to hit the financial targets that we mentioned before?"

 

Rick Magill (03:04):

The market research, it can be done in many different ways. It's typically through direct observation, surveys, interviews, focus groups, that type of stuff, but it gives you reliable information about whether this new opportunity really is viable. It's important to mention that it should also involve analysis of the competitors, who's out there already doing this type of stuff. Can you compete against them? Are you going to tread on their toes? Is it going to be acceptable in the local community for other people to be doing that? And we found that was a real opportunity to improve this on some of the, the projects that we looked at.

 

Rick Magill (03:41):

Now, this type of market research, it doesn't have to be very complex. It can be very simple documentation, just to help build confidence that there really is an opportunity there. There's plenty of material that anyone can find online. Just with a quick Google search, you'll be able to find some how-to guides on how to do a basic business case. And general rule of thumb, simplicity is key. Just keep it nice and clear and simple, just to demonstrate the facts. But related to one of the earlier suggestions that we offered, market research is so much easier and so much better if you've got successful local entrepreneurs on the team, because that will give you confidence in the data that you find.

 

Ben Anderson (04:24):

Is there a particular time that market research should be conducted?

 

Rick Magill (04:29):

As early as possible. What we find with some projects is that it doesn't come along until quite far down the line when resources have all been committed and so on. So it's really helpful if people will get on the front foot with that and gather the information really from the outset of the project.

 

Ben Anderson (04:46):

Would it be possible if you could put some of this advice into a practical example?

 

Rick Magill (04:51):

An example might be where you want to collect waste from local households and local communities, and sort that waste and turn it into something else, whether that's plastic products, or recycled metal to sell to a manufacturing company, or something like that. To do that market research, to see if it's possible to gather the amount of waste that's necessary, and then once you've sorted it and processed it, whether there are really customers out there that want to buy at the type of volumes and prices that you would need in order to make your social enterprise or business sustainable. So, that kind of market research is really essential to give us some confidence that the numbers stack up.

 

Ben Anderson (05:42):

As mentioned at the start of the podcast, please do listen to our first episode in this series, which provides an overview of sustainable wealth creation projects, and the typical challenges that teams face. Here is a little insight into that conversation.

 

Rick Magill (05:55):

None of these projects were about making people rich. They had much more modest ambitions. It was about enabling families and communities to earn enough income to lift themselves out of poverty.

 

Ben Anderson (06:07):

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