The International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) program is a system of interrelated training packages and supporting materials for small-scale entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. SIYB aims to increase the viability of small and medium enterprises through sound management principles suitable for the environment of developing countries. SIYB is comprised of four modules: Generate Your Business, Start Your Business, Improve Your Business, and Expand Your Business. Each module is adapted and translated to specific country needs.
Generate Your Business (GYB) is the first in the series and is intended for people without a business plan who would like to start a business. This module was reviewed in detail for Preparing for Work. GYB guides individuals interested in business through an iterative and intentional process to create and filter business ideas with the aim of developing one concrete business idea. It first provides a framework to help learners think of ideas—aspiring entrepreneurs must be able to answer which, what, who, and how. Following the initial brainstorming, learners complete a self-assessment that is divided into 10 areas: motivation for starting a business, risk taking, perseverance, initiative, decision making, adaptability, commitment, negotiation, family support, and ability to cope with social obligations. This assessment helps learners to better understand how their personal characteristics could be advantageous or disadvantageous to their ideas. Learners then return to brainstorming by considering types of businesses (retailing, wholesaling, manufacturing, service provision, agriculture and food processing) and related businesses (production, marketing, servicing, and spin-off). Learners continue to refine and filter their ideas by visiting existing businesses, interviewing possible customers, and growing their social networks in order to continually seek feedback.In the next round of idea generation, learners consider doing business with the public or private sector and then write a list of ideas with comments that they narrow down through a process of field research that includes interviewing potential customers, competitors, and suppliers, with a mind toward available human and natural resources. In the final analysis, learners perform a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of their most promising ideas and then flesh out one idea. By the end of the module, participants are expected to have developed a concrete business idea ready for implementation and will write a summary of its type, the products or services it will provide, where technical skills will come from, the customers, the need it will satisfy, how it will sell its products and services, and why they chose that idea.
The other three modules are Start Your Business (SYB), for potential small-business entrepreneurs with a concrete business idea, which provides a combination of training, field work, and after-training support activities; Improve Your Business (IYB), which introduces already practicing entrepreneurs to good principles of business management (i.e., marketing, costing, stock control, record keeping, buying, and business planning); and Expand Your Business (EYB), which gives small and medium entrepreneurs the practical tools to implement and realize business growth and profits, with a growth plan being the main output from this training.
The Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) program includes a range of training packages and instruments, with integrated components for counseling, networking, promotion of service institutions, and policy dialogue. Each training package is supplemented by trainer guides, master trainer guides, evaluation and monitoring score-cards, and further followed by other SIYB materials, including rapid market appraisal guide, adult training methodology book, instruments of reporting and data recording. The non-training interventions include individual business counselling, facilitation of business and financial linkages, specialist services, and business support groups (includes 4 separate materials).
Trainers must undergo a 5-day training of trainers workshop to be certified in the use of the materials and methods and to develop a strategy for coaching and follow-up work with entrepreneurs.
The Generate Your Business Idea (GYBI) curriculum of the ILO’s Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) program was also adapted into a “Green” version that was tested in Kenya. The format remains relatively the same as the structure of the original GYBI curriculum, with some changes in the types and content of exercises. This adaptation provides “Activity” and “Case Study” exercises for participants in place of “Questions about your own experience,” and “Something that is extra important” in the original curriculum.
In 2009 a Spanish-language adaptation, Generan Ideas de Negocios, was made to the GYBI curriculum, and to the Start Your Business (SYB) module (Inician Su Negocio) of the SIYB program, to support programs for entrepreneurship and employment in Peru.