The art of asking
The Enhanced Integrated Framework supports least developed countries improve their supply of products to the global market, strengthening employment, tackling poverty and taking vital steps forward in terms of socio-economic development.
EIF has been working with hundreds of entrepreneurs for the past few years, to help them build and implement strategies for brand promotion, participate in regional and international trade fairs, improve in processing capabilities and value addition as well as provide support to cooperatives.
“We saw the Global Forum as not only a good opportunity to showcase ideas from organisations with a demonstrated track record and high potential, but also to develop the capacities of these entrepreneurs to pitch to potential funding partners,” says Violeta Gonzalez, EIF’s Head for Partnerships, Outreach and Resource Mobilization and one of the main organizers of the dragons’ den.
The three entrepreneurs were given tailored support to ensure their pitches could be summarized in four slides and delivered in less than five minutes. A series of online and face-to-face coaching sessions with experienced presenters prior to the dragons’ den as well as guiding materials, helped them master the art of asking – ensuring their pitches were clear, concise, and backed up by financials.
“This was something special for me as it was my first time doing a dragons’ den and actually pitching my business idea. The preparation really helped me improve my pitch structure, remove irrelevant information and be clear about the financials,”said Alberta Vitale, Associate Director of Women in Business Development (WIBDI) in Samoa.
In her pitch, Vitale spoke of her organisation’s success in strengthening village economies by helping 796 coconut farmers in 183 villages earn 600,000 Samoan Tala (US$227,000) by producing organically certified coconut oil.
While Samoa’s raw coconut oil is well regarded in the industry (corporations like the Body Shop buy coconut oil from Samoa even though there are many other coconut oil producers closer by), the country still remains relatively isolated from international markets.
Instead of seeing this as an obstacle, Vitale shared how it can be an opportunity to engage with vulnerable communities and ensure the products meet the highest quality standards, given the growing global demand for coconut oil. She asked the dragons for US$50,000 to support a 20-ton increase in production of organic certified coconut oil as well as to access new markets, particularly cosmetic companies.
The dragons were impressed with her pitch – particularly in how she was able to showcase how her business had market demand and that she clearly knew her numbers.
Vitale says that the dragons’ den experience has also helped her organization.
“I have applied the skills I gained by coaching a younger staff member to pitch a business idea at a recent forum,” she says.