Shoulders operates as a for-profit enterprise.  It does not extend charity, at least in the traditional sense.  Shoulders engages the talents and experience of successful Christian US businessmen and women in ventures designed to partner with qualified aspiring Christian Tanzanian entrepreneurs.

Scarcity describes economic opportunity in Tanzania.  Lack of entrepreneurship education and role models also limit opportunists in their pursuit of economic independence.  Shoulders provides opportunity on an aspirant by aspirant basis and matches interested Christian US investors and mentors with reasonably qualified and ambitious Tanzanian entrepreneurs who otherwise would not have access to such talent and financial backing.

Shoulders provides a program of entrepreneurship education, planning, investment, and execution that;

  1. Pivots on the premise that appropriate planning lies at the core of success. Therefore, every partnership entered into by Shoulders will require the development and documentation of a business plan.  Three pillars or essential components to every business plan, prefaced by some crazy idea or dream, will include the following;
    • The Idea or Dream. This leads to a business’ mission, vision and strategy, what it’s all about.
    • Marketing. Every business needs to identify its market and figure out how it’s going to sell its services (or products) to that market.  Therefore, every business plan needs a marketing plan component.
    • Operations. Every business needs to figure out how it’s going to operate.  Operations includes how it will manufacture or acquire its product, or how it will provide its service.
    • Management & Organization. Every business needs to take care of business through proper administration.  Nobody likes to think about the back-office stuff, but no business can survive without it.
  2. Creates venture partnerships that partner US based venture partnerships with Tanzanian entrepreneurs in business as co-disciples to provide Tanzanian individuals the opportunity to achieve greater levels of self-sufficiency, and
  3. Obtains a reasonable and fair profit for US and Tanzanian partners,
  4. Operates within parameters of;
    • Profit Maximization – Shoulders will seek to maximize profits within the constraints of Christian co-discipleship objectives. Shoulders believes that a reasonable profit motivation will incentivize creativity, encourage reasonable risk taking, and foster perspectives of mutual respect.
    • Results Accountability – Shoulders aspires to sustain itself by making a profit (rewarding its investors), as well as by providing a societal good (jobs provided, managers promoted, entrepreneurs rewarded).
    • Societal Good Maximization – Shoulders aspires to turn economically disadvantaged individuals, though caught in the trap of a poor economic opportunity circumstance, into profit incentivized and rewarded participants in both a profit-worthy as well as a Christian discipleship-opportunity endeavor.
    • Transaction Orientation – Shoulders will conduct itself with the utmost respect for its partners, always requiring reciprocal fair value for value provided, and always rewarding value received with reciprocal fair compensation.
    • Incentivizing – Shoulders seeks to achieve a worthwhile co-discipleship between Christians from economically contrasted countries; it also seeks to provide economic and spiritually motivated individuals the opportunity to participate in this discipleship walk and to strengthen themselves economically in the context of full mutual respect and economic partnership.
    • Societal Contribution – To the extent that Shoulders yields profits, it will pass those profits on to its investors in the form of taxable income, or allow itself to be taxed itself.

Crazy Ambition

Shoulders started as part of a “crazy ambition” to establish a Tanzanian entrepreneurial partnership between interested US citizens and ambitiously aspiring Tanzanians.  Preliminary thought postulated education to be a preliminary springboard to self-sufficiency.  But, education often leaves graduates wondering what to do next, in order to make their way in the world.  What to do next usually translates to trying to get a job (at someone else’s mercy), or getting drawn into family-hood, such as marriage, pregnancy (for women), or directionless wondering what to do next.  Evolved thinking led to the conclusion that the next step into independence could involve entrepreneurship, or starting one’s own business.

The problem with entrepreneurship coming right out of school is that normally, no one is really trained or ready to take on that challenge.  It involves significant daring and courage.  When coupled with possible family obligations, it often poses seemingly insurmountable barriers.  Schools generally don’t train graduates in developing a business plan, obtaining capital, managing people and processes, and marketing one’s good ideas.  They may teach courses in entrpreneurship.  But they rarely provide commensurate opportunities for experience.  More basic than that, graduates don’t graduate with great ideas because schools often don’t adequately encourage or teach their students to think creatively.  Rather, they teach prescriptively textbook theory and how to pass tests.  Unless an aspiring entrepreneur’s family encouraged risk-taking, they dare not think twice about starting their own business.

A Christian opportunity seems obvious.

Churches in the US have tried to help young people in Tanzania to become more independent.  They’ve sponsored girls and boys in their education.  They’re entertained the idea of supporting someone else’s attempt to run an orphanage.  They have even contributed to established businesses, such as medical centers and other organizations of mercy.  They’ve debated within their committees their mission, strategy and common goals.

A more straight-forward approach to developing self-sufficiency in Tanzania might be appropriate and welcome.  In the context of some churches trying to find its mission focus, this might be a great time to take a (perhaps big) step.

The following constituted Shoulders’ initial outline of idea for direction.

  1. Form a US/Tanzanian partnership
    1. To be “for profit”
    2. Organize as a “B” corporation, whose profit motivation is married to a social betterment objective (Colorado now allows for such a corporation. An LLC may organize itself with a dual purpose, by virtue of its inherent nature.)
    3. Invite/attract potential investors to consider, participate.
    4. Identify aspiring Christian Tanzanian entrepreneurs with qualifying ambition, character and experience or training.
  2. Outline of Mission/Purpose
    1. Engage talented young Tanzanians in profit-motivated entrepreneurial endeavor(s)
      • Earn a profit
      • Develop Tanzanian entrepreneurs
      • Teach/model ethical behavior, character development, hard work and reward
    2. Develop Tanzanian partners
      1. Identify Tanzanian candidates using existing Tanzanian relationship resources
      2. Interview and hire, with view towards partnering (trade Tanzanian sweat equity investment and risk for US partner financial equity and risk)
      3. Brain storm with interested Tanzanians creative ideas for business
      4. Help develop business plan
        • Creative ideas, market potential
        • Capital attraction, creation
        • Functional operations
        • Governance
        • Financial projections
        • Financial reporting
        • Complying with Tanzanian law, regulations, rules
        • Buying/selling partnership interests
        • Other
    3. Leverage Existing, and Build New, Relationships
      1. Coordinate with existing Tanzanian friends and partners
      2. Develop principals

Business Planning – A Requirement

Prior the investment in any business venture, Shoulders requires the development of a business plan.  A business plan;

  1. Forces an aspiring entrepreneur to think through his/her ambition,
  2. Communicate a proposed “game plan” for review and consideration by one or more potential partners,
  3. Invites critique and revision to idea components that, in the context of third party review, don’t measure up to realistic expectations,
  4. Provides a baseline for tracking financial investment and operational progress,
  5. Proposes measurable goals and profit expectations.

Shoulders uses a standardized business plan table of contents.  The table of contents will generally be modified liberally in detail, but maintain a fairly ridged overall structure.  Substantively, every plan will begin with a general description of an entrepreneur’s idea or dream.  Major functional components will follow that describe the market and marketing strategy, operational intention, management, organization and administration.  Each plan will conclude with financial considerations and planning.  Financial number crunching will include capital formation and investment, and financial planning.  Financial planning will integrate capital planning with planned operational results (cash basis and accrual) and periodic anticipated statements of position.  Appropriate appendices will detail supporting statements and assumptions that underlie the fundamental plan.

When business plan develop completes, the developer will summarize the entire plan with an Executive Summary and place it at the beginning of the business plan document.  This allows the prospective reader to obtain an overview of the plan prior to immersion into the detail

The following is the standardized table of contents of business plans expected of Shoulders’ venture investments:

___________________________ Business Plan

Table of Contents

Updated: ______________

  1. Executive Summary (Developed Last)
  2. The Idea or Dream
    1. Describe the dream
    2. Develop the mission, vision and principles
      1. The Mission Statement
      2. The Vision Statement
      3. Specific Objectives
      4. Context of the Dream
  1. The Market, Marketing
    1. Target Market
    2. Why the Target Market
    3. Approach to the Target Market, Strategy
    4. Market Size
    5. Market Niche within Target Market
    6. Replication of Initial Success
  2. Operations
    1. Program Description
    2. Program Components
    3. Program Component Operations, Production
    4. Program Resource Requirements
    5. Operational Structure and Positions
    6. Variable and Fixed Nature of Program
  3. Management, Organization and Administration
    1. In-House vs. Purchased Services
    2. Administrative Structure and Positions
    3. Responsibilities by Position
    4. Legal and Accounting Considerations
    5. Form of Organization
    6. Ownership and Ownership Structure and Change
    7. Essential Controls
    8. Government and Compliance Matters
  4. Capital Formation and Leverage
    1. Initial Capital Requirements
    2. Use of Ownership vs. Borrowed Capital
    3. Strategic Growth
  5. Financial Model
    1. Initial Balance Sheet
    2. Start-up Capitalization
    3. First Client/Customer Walk-through
    4. Break-Even Model
    5. First Year Expectations
    6. Cash Flow Model
    7. Second Year Projections
    8. Variable Revenue Projections, Picture of Potential Results
  6. Appendices
  7. Financial Projection Drivers
    1. Variables, Drivers of Revenues and Costs
      1. Revenue Drivers
      2. COGS Drivers, Fixed and Variable
        1. Labor Drivers
        2. Product Drivers
        3. Materials Drivers
        4. Supplies
        5. Overhead Allocation
      3. Operational Expense Drivers
        1. Marketing Drivers
        2. Labor Drivers
        3. Facilities Drivers
        4. Customer/Client Support Drivers
        5. Overhead Components and Drivers
        6. Government and Compliance Drivers
        7. Tax Issues and Context
      4. Other Revenue and Expense Considerations

Outstanding Entrepreneurship Investments

As of the writing or latest updating of this description of Shoulders’ program, two (2) partnerships have launched.  These include;

  1. J&E Smart Company Ltd – This partnership enabled a Christian dentist to establish his own practice. Eric (the dentist) had already practiced dentistry for seven years before partnering with a US investor.  He began practicing dentistry in Malawe and most recently practiced for Aga Kahn Hospital in Arusha, Tanzania.  He successfully opened his own practice and is treating patients.
  2. Matilda’s Greenhouse Venture – This partnership enabled a retired school teacher to continue earning income as a basis for funding medical school expenses of her youngest daughter. Matilda already had purchased, constructed and operated a single greenhouse in which she grew green peppers.  The partnership enabled her to construct a second greenhouse.  Since the first greenhouse could only produce fruit six months out of the year, the second one enabled her to establish year-round consistency to produce production.  As a result, the partnership positioned her to offer a heightened reliability to produce  sale to a substantial grocery store.  Rather than scrambling to sell her produce to multiple outlets, she now operates a consistent product marketing and sale process.  Matilda entered Shoulders’ partnership with about two years’ experience in greenhouse green pepper growing and operation.

A potential future partnership exists with a young lady working her way through law school.  She aspires to operate a cupcake business while maintaining her law school curriculum studies.  She has experience in cupcake baking and believes that she holds the secret to exceptional cupcake business.  Frosting!  You normally don’t get frosted cupcakes in the local bakeries, especially near the law school.

A trio of ladies who already operate a non-profit organization designed to empower young women in higher levels of self-sufficiency intend to begin a poultry apprenticeship business.  A partnership, if successful, will enable their organization to train and employ this same demographic population of young women in poultry operation.

Many other partnership opportunities exist.  However, each will require the development of a credible business plan.  Furthermore, the qualifications for aspiring entrepreneurs will continue to be scrutinized in the context of appropriate education, training and experience.  Every partnership will be designed to turn a profit over time.  Rather than positioning potential donors in superior positions of charitable recipients, Shoulders will partner with each qualified partner in a position of equal standing.  Therefore, mutual respect will underpin each partnership and serve to provide a satisfactorily high bar for qualification and partnership acceptance.