A good business plan is the hallmark of a mature, forward thinking organisation. It can help make sense of the direction a business is taking, build cohesion and boost efficiency on limited resources. However, all too often on social projects, where people are passionate about their cause but resources are tight, it can be the last thing to get put in place.

Students studying for their Masters in International Development at the University of Bristol are now working in partnership with a wide range of organisations to help develop their business plans. They can choose a unit where they work with a local organisation to develop ideas for a business proposal for a local NGO, giving students the opportunity to work on real world problems.

Teams of four to five students, supported by an expert in management meet with local enterprises to consider their needs and then develop ideas for a business plan.

Organisations we have worked with to date include: Babassa Youth Empowerment Project, Bristol and Avon Chinese Women’s Network Bristol Women, Community in Partnership Knowle West, Concern Universal, Exeter Ethiopia Link, Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust, Wherever the Need.

One NGO said: “It has been a really positive experience for the board to work with the students. We felt through conversations and meetings they really got to understand our business and produced a brilliant business plan that is really going to help us going forward”.

Another added: “The students made useful suggestions towards our future fundraising and volunteer recruitment strategies. We were able to establish links to a previously untapped pool of knowledge and expertise.”

The scheme runs every academic year around Easter; if you have a business that you’d like some help with please contact us.