By Abbie Venables

ISL Business Club member photographed selling the remaining items at a school event.

ISL Business Club member photographed selling the remaining items at a school event.

Whilst managing Nerve’s Pop-Up Boutique at the ECIS Educators Conference last November, I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Dr James Mulli; an educator based at the International School of Luxembourg (ISL). James was drawn to the Boutique by the shop stock and merchandise, and we soon began chatting about Nerve’s goals, business model and plans for the future.

I told James that the Nerve Boutique stock is made and designed by our talented Nervees based in Uganda, who struggle to make a sustainable profit from their crafts either due to over production in their area, or an inability to access local markets. I proudly shared with him that not only does the Nerve Boutique provide international market opportunities to our Nervees, but we also purchase their crafts at a higher-than-average price before selling them to our international community and utilising the profits to fund various development projects.

To my delight, James shared with me that he oversees the school’s business club, where a group of students come together to develop essential business skills such as financial management, marketing, sales, project management and negotiation. We discussed the importance of clubs such as these in schools, as they generate a fantastic learning experience for young people; giving them the leadership skills and responsibility to make their own decisions and to watch how those decisions can play out in real-life scenarios.

Soon, an idea was born.

“What if the business club could make their first international partnership and purchase stock from our Nervees to sell to the ISL community?”

“What if they could develop new business skills whilst simultaneously providing others the capital to set up their own business in Uganda?”

So, a budget was produced, an inventory list was created, and a plan was formed.

The school would purchase €150 worth of products, such as laptop and iPad cases, jewellery, makeup bags and wallets, and I would work with Nerve’s partners in Uganda to source and ship the products to Luxembourg in time for the Christmas period.

The opportunity would enable club members to utilise their business knowledge of income, expenditure and profit in an international setting, and learn about the impact of currency conversion, shipping costs and customs processes.

The students would also be able to learn about the benefits of partnering with a social enterprise such as The Nerve Network, where commercial services fund improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being.

Since November, the club has sold most of their stock; holding pop-up shops at school events such as recitals, plays and charity events.

The partnership has seen mutual benefit at each stage as our Nervees were able to sell more of their crafts, the Business Club students were able to practice and develop their skills and Nerve has gained fantastic exposure for our work and social impact.

Now, we want to see what we can do next.

We want to partner with other schools, other clubs.

We want to expand this Service Learning project to generate a bigger impact for everyone involved.

Could your school be next?

Esther Kwaku