Since the completion of my degree, I always felt I needed to be part of something different, outside the normal internships, to bring me a personal and professional enrichment. I wanted to leave Portugal and have an experience in Africa, where i could live an economic and social contrast.
Then in my quest for a project in my area in Africa i heard through NOVAFRICA about a vacancy for a microcredit project in Maputo, Mozambique. I applied immediately and after being accepted (myself and two colleagues) I decided to take this opportunity to develop also my thesis project in Mozambique.
To begin the research for the thesis, I read several studies assessing the impact of training on business in the business performance at developing countries and this gave me more willing to have contact with Africa and to study deeper the type of management of microentrepreneurs in Mozambique.
The microcredit project aimed to lend money (by Moza BanK) to the Mozambican microentrepreneurs. Upon my and my colleagues arrival, 3 teams were composed by 2 elements each: 1 portuguese student and 1 mozambican student. These mozambican colleagues, helped us very much in the contact with the microentrepreneurs because even though we share the same language, many did not understand what the portuguese were saying.
To have access to microentrepreneurs we had contacts with associations and then, within the informal markets of Maputo (where the microentrepreneurs have their business), we made clarification sessions. At first, we ended up having more compliance than we expected and we heard a lot of people – some with a megalomaniac ideas and other with a real life project. When we realized, people who were not in the clarification sessions were coming to us and asked us if we were giving money. Of the 37 people that i interviewed with ideas for their business, I chose 3, for which I developed a document containing all the information of the applicant and an analysis of the business that the applicant wanted to implement. Then the Moza Bank analyzed all the projects and only one was chosen. For this it was necessary to develop a business plan that allowed the applicant to receive funding.
In the two projects i was involved (the thesis project and the microcredit project) the difficulties experienced were different. In the microcredit project all the people wanted to talk with us and came to us, but when I tried to make inquiries for my thesis project, people refused to respond, or let the questionnaire incomplete because they thought that I was trying to know more than I should. All this experience has forced me to be more nimble and always look for other solutions.
After my return to Portugal I noticed that I liked more of Mozambique than what I imagined when I was there. I experienced something that I believe that I will never live again, but for which I wish to thank to NOVAFRICA. Without this opportunity I could not have lived this experience for which I am immensely grateful. I may use many words to try to describe this experience but I’ll always fall short, because only the experience itself allows understanding of the entire scope and impact.
Thank you NOVAFRICA for allowing me to, not only develop my thesis project, but meet wonderful people with whom I spent every day and whose help allowed me to finish with success the personal and professional projects that I set out.
Written by Teresa Pedro, Nova SBE Master Student and NOVAFRICA research intern in 2013