The Dynamic Business Start-up Project (DBSP) is a four week practical business training course, designed to equip entrepreneurs and promote self-sufficiency. Each four-week class is followed by 12 months of structured one-on-one follow-up and coaching of each trainee. One key distinctive of DBSP is that it teaches people to start businesses with $7 of their own money.
DBSP was created by South African entrepreneur Chris Black in 1996, who expanded and franchised the program into 15 other countries in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia. The first DBSP training course ran in Mauritania in January 2011. Operation Mercy’s partners have trained six trainees to serve as trainers for the course. Courses are offered separately in both French and Arabic. Each course typically has two trainers for a group of 10 – 15 trainees, to ensure a very high degree of personal engagement of the trainers with each individual participant.
The DBSP training involves:
The money-making activity is perhaps the greatest strength and most unique feature of the course. At the start of the course, students laugh in disbelief when they are told they can start a business and make money with as little as $7. But then they discover that it is possible! After several days of classroom training, the money-making activity is launched. Students might use their $7 to buy some vegetables in the wholesale market and then sell them to their neighbors, or they might set up a small sandwich table on a street corner, or buy some cosmetics to resell. Each subsequent morning of classroom training, all the students report on their business activity the previous day, providing exact details of their sales, costs, and their net profit or loss. Typically we’ve seen that with 3 weeks of coaching related to their tiny “micro-business,” by the end of the course, students will have multiplied their initial $7 to $30 - $50 (and often much more!). The students typically continue their small-scale money-making activity for a few weeks longer after the course, allowing them to accrue further necessary capital to then launch the business for which they’ve developed a business plan during the course. So they really DO start a business with $7! The confidence this builds is just amazing to see, and it is exciting to see students grasp the truth that they don’t need some big loan or handout from a relative, a Western friend, or an NGO in order to succeed.
They recognize the principle of starting small and working patiently to build up their own resources and change their lives step by step. It’s a very powerful and life-transforming practice!