Entrepreneurs to Challenge Lack of Opportunity

Apr. 14 | 2021

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Volunteer Neelam Canto-Lugo worked with a group of individuals during a multi-date remote training to build on skills to promote entrepreneurs in a challenging economic market. 


In developing countries, opportunity can be hard to find. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world with half of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. The minimal infrastructure means most of the opportunities in the country are within the agricultural sector. 


A limited market means people need to think creatively to find opportunity. Neelam says, “We need to create opportunity because we can’t rely on others!” Neelam shared in the remote training how to analyze your own skills, the market, and making goals to become successful entrepreneurs. 


Soft Skills 


All over the world there has been studies about how soft skills in the job market are as important as the skills to complete the job. This is also an area to improve on in Mali and Burkina Faso. These are some of the soft skills that are great for anyone, at any stage of life, should continue to work on. 


attitude as a key soft skill for entrepreneurs work ethic as a key soft skill communication as a key soft skill for entrepreneurship
emotional intelligence as a key soft skill for entrepreneurs interpersonal relations as a key soft skill empathy as a key soft skill for entrepreneurship


SWOT Analysis 


To find gaps in the market as well as evaluate yourself, start with a SWOT analysis. Then you’re able to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that may be involved. A SWOT can be used during the business planning, to improve your skills, and can be revisited at any time to identify issues and find a route to work toward a solution. 


Participants in the meeting were asked to think about problems in their country relating to the opportunity for youth to work. Some of the problems that were identified include: 

  • There needs to be support from the institution and the students need to work toward the goal as well. Both entities need to work toward a common goal. 
  • The government isn’t able to provide opportunities to students that are looking. 
  • Students aren’t able to practice the new things they are learning. 


Using this list, participants can use a SWOT analysis to identify a path to work toward solving it. Neelam expresses that although there can be many challenges in their country, this can become an opportunity for them to fill the gap. 


theory of change model for youth entrepreneurs


Theory of Change Model


The Theory of Change Model is a way for educators and students to bring together three important aspects: soft skills, entrepreneurial mindset and internal focus of control. An understanding of the three constructs leads to self actualization where the person is able to lead and succeed by realizing their own talents. It’s important for educators to support this journey for students as they are finding themselves in the world and looking to continue their education or find an occupation that will benefit their skills to the full potential. 




Mentors are important for entrepreneurs because they have experienced it before! A good mentor will be able to guide you on a path of success by using their experience to help with tough decision making, support, finances, and everything else. Having the idea for the business is just the start, working to make it reality is where the trouble can begin. 


They can also provide a network that may have the answer to problems that develop along the way as well as build resources for other projects and other new entrepreneurs. A good network and a mentor could be the difference between giving up and reaching the goals that you want to achieve. 


Finding a mentor can be different for everyone but it’s important to think of someone you know first. Think of a teacher or professor, they would be able to help guide you themselves or they might even know someone to connect you with. The best thing you can do is start to talk to people in the field you are hoping to enter! 




Like our previous training, SMART goals are the leading way to start thinking about the starting point of creating a plan. A SMART goal provides you with a roadmap of things that need to be improved, finished and worked on to achieve your fullest potential while staying realistic. 

smart goals

Great questions to consider when starting to plan goals include: 

  • Who is involved? 
  • What do I want to accomplish? 
  • Where will this take place/location? 
  • What is my time frame? 
  • What are the requirements and restraints? 
  • What are the reasons to accomplish the goal? 


Business Model  


As all of these different components fall together, this is the point where a business plan could be the key to reach success. It’s basically the blueprint of the business and can be altered at any time to adapt to changing needs. Here’s five great reasons to write a business plan: 


  • To test the feasibility of the business plan. 
  • To give your business the best possible chance of success. 
  • To secure funding such as bank loans. 
  • To make business planning manageable and effective. 
  • To attract investors. 


Opportunities in the Future

opportunities in agriculture


In developing countries it’s important to be able to have the skills to create your own opportunity as it might not be easily available. Minimal opportunity can also mean a possibility for you to find a niche that grows popular, but finding it can be tough. 


Neelam was happy to see returning participants that are ready to learn more and build on their skill to become better entrepreneurs. It’s crazy to see how similar business processes, personal development and teaching can be around the world. We can’t wait to continue learning along with our friends across the world. 


Click here to learn more about our volunteers helping farmers to start growing mushrooms!