From start-up to scale-up: the success of Trainers Lab

From start-up to scale-up: the success of Trainers Lab

It is high time to fully invest in and use local expertise. The question is: how to find this local expertise? Trainers Lab has the answer as this international platform makes it easy to find and hire local professional trainers. Alexander Medik, business developer at Aidsfonds, has been involved from drawing table to launch and beyond. The process of development is a successful example of the iterative approach that he applied. Alexander shares with us what this entails.

Why Trainers Lab?

Many professional trainers are to be found in every corner of the world. Often enough though it is the Western trainers who are flown in. While the local trainers understand the local context and sensitivities like no other. Working with local expertise contributes to sustainability when local organisations are able to find quality expertise closer to home.

It all started in 2015 when a consortium of global SRHR organisations experienced similar challenges in the traditional capacity strengthening strategies: cost-ineffectiveness, lack of sustainability and little use of local expertise. The ambition was to work towards an online marketplace that would facilitate in the matchmaking of local non-profits and experts in the broad field of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It started with an Excel spreadsheet

They key success of Trainers Lab is the iterative way it was developed. We used lean startup and human centred design methodologies. Easier said, to think big one needs to start small, test underlying assumptions and further develop based on learnings, while involving a human perspective in all steps of the process.

Instead of a ready-made online platform we started with an Excel spreadsheet of trainers. 36 local trainers from this list received a Training of Trainers on specific SRHR topics. Thereafter they started to train local non-profits on these SRHR topics. As a result these local trainers increased their skills and local non-profits provided positive feedback on the trainings. Throughout time more and more non-profits from the Global North and Global South contacted us in search for local trainers.

Trainer Trainer

1 year and 8 testing cycles later

Our key assumption that there is demand for local trainers services had been proven. Hence we decided to grow bigger. The online marketplace Trainers Lab was co-created with local trainers. A year of development and 8 testing cycles later the platform was successfully launched in 2019.

Through this approach we managed to deliver a cost-effective and sustainable platform that is based on the needs of both the non-profits and the local experts. Currently more than 135 local trainers and over 40 non-profits are registered on Trainers Lab and numerous matches have been made.

Scale up towards sustainability

Following the successes from Trainers Lab and sharing the same vision, Trainers Lab has been taken over by global SRHR platform Sharenet International. Starting from 2021 it will become part of its Matchmaking platform. This scale up will provide even more matchmaking opportunities for SRHR practitioners worldwide, next to many other relevant SRHR information that Sharenet provides.

Aidsfonds has led the development of Trainers Lab: making sure that Trainers Lab was effectively and efficiently developed from an idea on paper to a global online platform that actively engage an international network of SRHR practitioners in the exchange of knowledge, skills and experience.

About Trainers Lab

With the launch of the online international marketplace, top trainers in the broad field of sexual and reproductive health and rights have become available to civil society. Close by and worldwide.

It offers local civil society organisations to hire skilled local professionals to strengthen their organisational capacity and improve their SRHR interventions. Moreover it offers skilled local trainers to expose and sell their expertise. A build in review system offers peer recommendations and feedback about the different trainers in the database.

Logo Trainers Lab Logo Trainers Lab

Trainers Lab has been developed as part of the Get Up Speak Out (GUSO) programme, together with; Aidsfonds, IPPF, Rutgers, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, Dance4Life, Simavi, AIDS Foundation South Africa, Sex Rights Africa and many local partners and experts.

For more information about the innovative approach of Trainers Lab, contact Alexander Medik, Business Developer at Aidsfonds.

Portrait of Alexander Medik
Alexander Medik
Portrait of Alexander Medik
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