Business Growth Manual for Street Cobblers – The field test

Week commencing 3rd September 2012 we launched into unknown territory… filed testing our Mochee_Project_BusinessGrowthManualv1.1 with street cobblers. The manual is currently only available in Urdu.

We had reservations before we kicked off,  not knowing what sort of reception entrepreneurial skills development would receive from street cobblers (most of the things we were set to cover are alien to them)…. wether they would be open to concepts of financial record keeping/planning, marketing, developing new service lines, customer relationship management, operational efficiencies amongst other ideas we are taking to a micro-enterprise in the third world.

For the pilot we did tilt the scales in our favour somewhat by selecting street cobblers from our initial sample base of 424 who are educated (exceptions to the norm), are already revenue leaders in sample set and utilising their connections we sourced others not in our sample but identified to PTP as ambitious go-getters within the street cobbler community.

We tailored our BGM test sample because we needed individuals who have the foresight to see the benefits of what we are trying to achieve (value education) and therefore would be in a better position to help and assist us in customising the business growth manual (BGM) for wider consumption amongst street cobblers. The test sample was engaged with multiple aims; to depart knowledge, to capture their feedback and customise our manual for Joe public in the cobbler community who has little to no education and may well see giving up his evenings to learn from team PTP as a waste of time or something even worse! and lastly with a view of selecting one or more of the participants as master trainers for a wider roll out of the program. Our desired BGM test sample size was  five but we could only source 4 individuals who met the criteria for the BGM test sample.

Testing the BGM with our selected sample enabled team PTP to alter the language within the manual and its in-class delivery, some of the course content which had to be simplified for wider consumption and the mode of delivery.

Overcoming the first hurdle:

We knew getting street cobblers educated, high earners or otherwise to give up ten hours of their time for a week, two hours each day was going to be a tall order and knowledge alone will not be motivation enough to get them through the door and keep bringing them back every day for five days. We did try the ‘you will be paid in knowledge and skills for your time’ approach but saw little enthusiasm for it and made the decision to incentivise the street cobblers to attend with monetary gain. Though initially we were against the idea of providing any monetary incentive but then we were getting the benefit of our participants feedback in bettering our BGM and recognised their contribution as no different than that of a consultant!… yes we were teaching them but they were teaching us too.

The BGM test workshop format: 

Even before we kicked off the BGM testing week we had already been informed by potential participants we had been in conversation with that 1 to 1 training would not be of benefit, individuals would be less inhibited in a group of their peers, a group would be able to carry the weaker participants better and individual sessions may demotivate a street cobbler who may be struggling with the concepts being taught even further away from any sort of vocational training. Therefore we changed our format to group study of 2 hours every evening over 5 days.  The workshop and training was conducted by PTP’s Chief Executive in Pakistan, Nazish Zahoor, supported by Baber Qureshi from PTP’s Admin & Finance dept. Asad Ullah PTP’s research internee.  All sessions were video recorded for future use and for the training of PTP’s own staff. We are still struggling to find volunteers to edit 400+ hours of video content captured so far and would be making the video content available as soon as we find a volunteer or the finance to engage a paid editor: so if you know of anyone who may be interested in volunteering, can volunteer yourself or can contribute towards hiring one for a couple of months to clear our backlog of video content please get in touch.

The BGM test sample: individual profiles: Participants

Should you want to speak to any of the participants please get in touch with us and we shall forward you the participant’s contact details. Daily logs of the five day BGM field testing will be posted shortly.

Walait Khan
Age: 24 years
Education: FA (High School)
Origin: Bajour Agency (KPK)
Work Add: Khayaban Sir Sayed, Dhok Najjo, Main bazaar.
Cell/Mobile: Yes


Taaj Wali
Age: 24 years
Education: FSc (High School)
Origin: Bajour Agency (KPK)
Work Add: Main bazaar, Aryia Mohalla, Near Khalsa Unani Dawakhana
Cell/Mobile: Yes


Khan Wada
Age: 28 years
Education: Middle School
Origin: Bajour Agency (KPK)
Work Add: Tang pulli, main bazaar, Marir Hassan
Cell/Mobile: Yes.


Laal Badshah
Age: 30 years
Education: Primary
Origin: Bajour Agency
Work Add: Provides mobile services in Charah, Rawalpindi
Cell/Mobile: Yes
























Standing on the shoulders of a giant!

From the very begining we have had the Timpson group on our radar and until very recently team PTP was struggling to make contact with the right people within Timpsons… then in July 2012 our advisor Roy Newey set up a meeting with James Timpson, the chief exec of Timpson. 24th of July 2012 was a game changer for PTP and the Mochee Project, James got onboard and Timpson’s knowledge banks opened up for PTP to transfer skills and training to the street cobblers in Pakistan. Within 2 days of the meeting PTP’s outpost in the UK received  the Timpson curriculum for shoe and watch repair and on the 8th of August Kubair met with the head of training at Timpson, Peter D Harris and Peter shared some more invaluable material with PTP! All the training materials were sent to Islamabad and are currently being used to design the business growth manuals for the street cobblers in Pakistan.

Timpson Training Academy HMP Blantyre Kent

Timpson Training Academy HMP Blantyre Kent

On the 15th of August Kubair Shirazee visited the Timpson’s Academy at HMP Blantyre in Kent, and spent the morning discussing what knowledge, skills and tools could be transferred across to the street cobblers in pakistan that would have an immediate positive impact on their ability to generate more income.

The Timpson academy at Blantyre trains male and female prisoners from around Kent in skills such as shoe and jewellery repair, engraving, photo-processing, mini-lab operation, poster printing, retail procedures and key cutting. The aim is to ensure prisoners are not ‘simply warehoused’ while in prison but rehabilitated so they can hold down successful jobs when they leave, which is vital in preventing reoffending.

Tools used by a street Cobbler in Pakistan

Kubair tool along with him the tools currently in use by an average street cobbler in Pakistan… a show and learn exercise.. and on seeing the tools the lead trainers at the Academy  Paul Black and Richard Pickering provided some incredible practical advise and guidance which undeniably will have an impact on the street cobblers’s operational efficiency and livelihood:

+ Use of tubular rivets to save time on stitching (direct impact on operational efficiency and revenue) – stronger than a stitch, has the bling factor and is quicker

Tubular Rivets to use instead of stitching

+ Hand stitching tool (direct impact on operational efficiency and revenue) – though its true potential would emerge over time (picture attached)

Hand Stitching Tool

+ Hand shears (where there are currently none in use) (direct impact on operational efficiency and revenue) – a multi purpose but expensive tool

+ Vibro Pen – hand held etching pen – new service line/some training needed – tool cost to be researched – introducing a new service line!

Furthermore Richard Pickering and Paul Black agreed to view a number of our videos where the street cobblers are at work and offer their advise based on decades of experience on how the Pakistani street cobbler can achieve  operational efficiency.

With support from Timpson PTP can make a real difference to the lives of street Cobblers and their families and above all, a reduction in the exploitation of the poor by criminal and extremist enterprises. It is about up-skilling and introducing operational efficiencies and we would be stumbling along if not for the experience of Timpson built over 100+ years of the group being in the trade!