How Businesses continue to learn with SPRING

How Businesses continue to learn with SPRING

SPRING businesses continue to learn and grow even after the programme has come to an end. Swaantje Marten, who is part of the Evaluation Partner team, reflects on the recent round of technical training sessions for SPRING businesses which have given participants the opportunity not just to learn from the trainers, but also from each other.

Many of the 75 SPRING businesses are well established social enterprises far beyond the start-up stage. However, in spite of all their experience, they are always willing to learn – especially as the Covid-19 pandemic confronts these same businesses with new challenges. Through technical training sessions, the Evaluation Partner team helped SPRING participants respond to these challenges and continued to support them in the growth and development of their businesses.

After a successful first round of online trainings earlier this year, we invited SPRING businesses to join a second round of training sessions in October. To ensure the training was as useful and relevant as possible, businesses identified topics they would like included in the training modules and we then developed courses based on these suggestions. Three training modules – Digital Marketing, Using data to demonstrate impact, and Grant Fundraising – were the result.

The Digital Marketing module aimed to assist businesses refine their marketing strategies in the digital space – something that has become particularly important during the pandemic as most communication has moved online. As one participant noted: “As a programmes manager, communication to external stakeholders is key and digital marketing to attract relevant stakeholders is key.” The second workshop took SPRING participants back to their Theories of Change (ToCs) and linked this to assessing their impact. Participants who had already developed their own ToCs as part of the SPRING accelerator were able to build on this and share their experience with those who had not worked with the tool before. Lastly, after having covered investment readiness in the previous set of workshops, the session on Grant Fundraising introduced businesses to an additional potential source of funding. When asked how they would apply the knowledge, one person said: “I will explore potential funding partners who could probably support initiatives like ours. The idea of keeping a continuous relationship with the funding organisation was very helpful.”

Participants had told the Evaluation Partner team that one of the best things about the earlier training sessions in April had been the opportunity to interact with businesses from other countries and sectors. They appreciated learning about their peers’ challenges and circumstances in other contexts. The Evaluation Partner team took this feedback to heart and decided to make the second round of trainings even more interactive. Having smaller break-out groups allowed the participants to discuss case studies and share their ideas and insights with each other. It also allowed trainers to directly address the many great questions participants posed to them. “I would encourage more peer learning and more participant engagements”, one participant stated.

As the SPRING businesses grow, they naturally also grow in complexity.  Many have also increased the number of staff, and some of the participants who joined the trainings were new to SPRING. By reiterating SPRING concepts and priorities, the Evaluation Partner team took the new staff members on board and raised their awareness about important issues such as Adolescent Girls Safeguarding in social media campaigns and data collection. The thematic trainings built on the general introduction to safeguarding participants received during the training in May. It was important to remind both seasoned and newer staff of the importance of safeguarding for SPRING businesses targeting adolescent girls and provide concrete examples of how to apply this in practice.

It was good to see both old and new faces in the sessions, and pleased that the SPRING legacy is continuing.