Jackson Kinyanjui has been a lead consultant at WYLDE International and in charge of overseeing a department known as Institution for the past two years. His position involves assisting several SMEs within East Africa to develop strategy and business plans. He also assists them in undergoing business coaching to boost their performance while preparing them to access finances. Furthermore, he is also tasked with business development and relationship management with institutions and SMEs across various projects while overseeing several consultants, coaches, and analysts.
What does WYLDE International do?
WYLDE International is a consulting firm that deals with strategy and entrepreneurship development services. The company mainly focuses on small and medium-sized businesses and their support organizations. Its goal is to equip entrepreneurs with the necessary skills using various interventions to grow and scale their businesses. Our slogan is powering you to win.
What are the challenges that most entrepreneurs face?
So, the first one is access to knowledge. What is entrepreneurship about? What does it involve? Because, in most cases, we end up dealing with people who became entrepreneurs based on needs. You find someone has decided to run a business for survival purposes because of outplacement. So, they need more knowledge to make things work. Then there is the aspect of the market. Something we call market linkages. You find people wondering, where do I find the market? What does the market look like? What is my target market?
These questions then lead to the issue of revenue. The other significant challenge people face is where to access finances, especially what we call working capital. These are the top three, but there is also the issue of people requiring assistance to get good people to help them implement their vision and daily operations. There are young businesses today that are still very much dependent on the owners carrying and running with their vision.
What does WYLDE do to bridge that gap?
We use various interventions; the first is a strategic intervention called Scalerizer. In the past, it was referred to as the Greatness Business Club. What we did then was an 11-month program where we took entrepreneurs through various bottlenecks in business and what we mainly focused on was strategy which we now deal with in Scalerizer. Using this workshop, we help entrepreneurs to seek clarity as far as strategy is concerned.
We help them to identify their target market and opportunities to communicate the product or service they are selling. We also assist them in identifying what differentiates them from their competitors – their value proposition. During these sessions, they also learn how to get their team on the same page. Lastly, we help them discover their critical success factors (CSF) to grow their revenue. So, we do this first in a workshop setup. Then we follow up with two one-on-one business coaching sessions, which then help them with the implementation process. We top this up with a peer group session where entrepreneurs learn from each other. Our slogan: why postpone success for entrepreneurs?
How many entrepreneurs has WYLDE been able to work with locally and internationally over the years?
For entrepreneurs, we have been able to work with more than 500 in cohorts or directly. Then in terms of businesses, close to 20,000 with various touch points. So, when I say touch points, I mean we have partnered with organizations like Meta (Formerly Facebook) in a program known as Meta- Boost (previously Boost with Facebook – BWFB) that equips entrepreneurs with digital marketing skills. It’s a three sessions program, very light touch, and for this, we have done like 15,000 in the last three years. For more in-depth sessions like the business coaching and Scalerizer, we have done close to 5,000. However, these have a deeper level of intervention.
It could be from strategy to more aspects that have to do with marketing and financial management. We have done them in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zambia, Eswatini, and some parts of Europe.
What are some of the challenges that WYLDE has experienced over the years?
The main challenge was identifying our niche in the market. WYLDE was initially set up as a training firm for young people. It was set up to help the youth with leadership, management, and soft skills. Over time, there was a demand for business skills, entrepreneurship skills, and accelerator services. The company got into that and other aspects of human capital development. However, in 2012 we were able to be targeted about what we specialize in, so we narrowed our focus to deal with strategy, business coaching, and business planning.
The second challenge was identifying our target market; trying different things at once made it difficult to know who our target market was. Then there was also the issue of remaining relevant with the changes in time and dealing with an uncertain environment, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The other challenges we faced were getting a good team of people, identifying a structure that would work on a day-to-day basis and the issue of sustainability.
How has the company been able to deal with them?
So once the company identified its niche, it became easier to identify our target market. Our target market was mainly corporates, but once we decided to focus on business and entrepreneurship skills, it changed to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The other things we used to deal with, which are the needs of SMEs like Marketing, Finance among others, were then included in what we call the SNDBX, which has other different experts who can deal with them.
In our journey of self-discovery, we also realized that we still wanted to maintain the big clients, so the solution was to have a separate department known as Institution. The department deals with projects from clusters of SMEs that are paid for by a donor or a development partner. This initiative also helped deal with the issue of sustainability since we started getting long-term projects that span six months to one year or more.
In terms of getting people and a structure that works. We made sure that the people we were getting remained sharp. We also worked hard to ensure they were well-trained and continuously exposed to coaching and mentoring. For structure, we worked with experts within the SNDBX (a one-stop SME solution centre with over 35 experts in a co-working space) who helped us identify a process on how to go about strategy and business coaching. Everything as of today has been put in such a way that even if the CEO or directors are on leave, typical day-to-day processes can still take place.
You talked about the Scalerizer Workshop; the company also conducts a program known as LAMP. Please tell us more about it; how is it beneficial to entrepreneurs?
As you keep interacting with your customer, you find that there is always a recurring need; for most businesses, it is finding professional managers. When your business is in the growth phase, there has to be a detachment from the CEO. The business should be able to run effectively with a team of professional managers, and that’s where LAMP comes in. The LAMP program is a leadership program that addresses various needs that would help people to become professional managers.
By the end of the program, they should be able to run businesses sustainably, profitably, and in a way that engages the staff or team of members, you are working with. It has seven modules and is designed to run for seven months.
Are these programs enough to equip entrepreneurs with the necessary skills to grow their businesses/organizations?
They form a foundation that will enable you to be linked with the SNDBX I mentioned earlier. Whereby different experts can help you gain skills in other sectors. One of the other things we are doing is a Meta post-program. We have a partnership with Meta, where we help people to establish an online presence and communicate with the community.
Meta fully funds the project and helps people gain digital skills. So, the programs, digital skills, and business coaching address about 60% of entrepreneurs’ needs. The remaining 40%, which is technical, or SME biased (one could have a challenge of finance, another is tax), is addressed within the SNDBX. WYLDE is one of the key partners at the SNDBX and is set up in such a way that by the time you are done, 100% of your needs have been met at different levels.
You talked about business coaching. Why is it essential for entrepreneurs?
The first is implementation. Once you have gone through the strategy workshop, your coach helps you to break down different things into action plans or critical initiatives. So, during the first week, the entrepreneurs focus on one thing and the following week on something else.
Then there’s also the aspect of sharing ideas with your coach on how to go about your business. Sometimes the beginning of your entrepreneurship journey can be very lonely so having a coach is like having a guide and a sounding board.
Lastly is accountability; many businesses lack governance structures. You find one person is answerable to themselves, so the coaching sessions help you to gain accountability skills.
Are there any great success stories about how WYLDE has been able to change the lives of entrepreneurs?
So, in a group of 100 people, we have trained, at least 30 come back and report that they have experienced at least 25% growth. This is in terms of either revenue or profitability. Some entrepreneurs have also been able to access capital of up to 100 million through business planning, coaching, and access to finance interventions. This has helped them to take their businesses to the next level.
About two or three businesses are currently in the top 100 and have been able to expand their operation in terms of reach. Geographical reach, processes, and customers as well. Then there’s also the aspect of many businesses having suitable governance structures, detaching from their owners, and just running smoothly.
You can interact with WYLDE International on their websiteand check out their Twitter and Facebook pages to learn more about their services.