The C-BED Approach

C-BED Context


Microenterprise are a critical component of sustainable development: they help increase income, decrease vulnerability, and contribute to a vibrant local economy.

C-BED Problem


Many communities in the developing world are limited by social, financial or geographical factors and may not have access to traditional enterprise development training.

C-BED Fact


Nobody knows more about a community or business than the people who live and work within that community. Yet often this knowledge goes unacknowledged and untapped.

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Watch a short overview of the community-based methodology and hear from entrepreneurs and training facilitators about their experience.

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C-BED Training

Community-Based Enterprise Development (C-BED) is a low-cost, easy to implement training program for helping entrepreneurs and micro-business owners to plan and improve their businesses. Carried out without external trainers or resources, C-BED has been specifically designed for use among poor, vulnerable and marginalized communities where funding and capacities are limited or communities are hard to reach due to social or geographical isolation.

C-BED is unique because of the ‘learning without a trainer’ methodology that is applied through action-based group learning. Participants work together in small groups to solve problems and through sharing existing knowledge and experiences, entrepreneurs are able to help each other understand formal business concepts, like costing or marketing, and develop stronger skills for business improvement.

C-BED was developed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in an effort to make business development training an option in any community. The community-based methodology offers a new approach for non-formal training in contexts where there is low institutional capacity and in environments characterized by limited resources. New training – CB Tools – are also being developed to complement and expand opportunities for skills development in poor, vulnerable, and marginalized communities.

Commonly Asked Questions

Traditional ILO training programs on enterprise development and entrepreneurship are targeted at institutions with budgets for training, trainers and capacity to maintain networks of trainers, and a program mandate aiming to develop high level skills. C-BED complements other popular programs such as SIYB, GET Ahead, KAB, by increasing the opportunity for entrepreneurs to access basic enterprise development training through local community-based organizations and associations.

In this way, entrepreneurs from poor, vulnerable, and marginalized communities are empowered to learn new skills which may prepare them for further, more in-depth training. In addition, C-BED dramatically reduces the costs of enterprise training which promotes more sustainable programs.

  • No quality control measures to regulate delivery organizations and associations;
  • No training of trainers and no trainers;
  • No certification of facilitators or qualification for graduates;
  • Materials are open source and free;
  • Short – just 16 hours;

The foundation of this learning pedagogy is that knowledge is embedded not in an individual who is an expert but in the activities and interaction of the group. It is based on more recent developments in teaching as well as linked to the realities of learning in community settings. While information is important, communication is more important as a tool to unlock the ideas of local people not only on the nature and causes of issues that affect them, but also on realistic solutions.Applying this methodology allows C-BED to be a problem solving approach which provides structure in terms of areas covered, and opens the door to groups helping each other identify solutions. In contrast to more traditional learning pedagogy, action-based, participatory group learning approaches combine local insights with analysis and, as such, provide a catalyst for the learner and community to themselves act on what issues are uncovered.

Because C-BED training is facilitated, the average level of education or literacy does not need be very high. The activities developed include group discussion, examples which can be read aloud by the facilitator, drawing pictures to communicate plans, using props and real products to aid comprehension, and illustrated worksheets. Basic financial literacy is an important part of the training, but worksheets are intended to be as simple as possible.

One of the advantages of C-BED is the training without a trainer methodology. For this reason anyone can be a facilitator who is literate and has the confidence to guide a group through the activities by following a step-by-step manual.The ILO recommends that C-BED facilitators spend one to two hours to review the training materials and resources before taking on the role. This is to both get an insight into the activities and to ensure that facilitators clearly understand their role as different to a trainer or expert. Where individuals with experience as teachers or trainers would like to be involved as facilitators of C-BED training, additional coaching may be necessary to ensure they are re-oriented to their new role of facilitating a discussion and the learning activities of the group, not to be the source of knowledge. It is also important that entrepreneurs who are participating in the training understand the role of the facilitator and their own role in sharing responsibility for the learning outcomes.

C-BED is designed to be extremely low cost. The minimum cost requirement is to print the training package. Additional costs may be incurred to secure a venue, provide additional learning resources, give refreshments, and organize transportation. However, these costs are not essential and with planning in advance can most often be avoided .C-BED training has been run successfully in real workplace settings, classrooms, community centers, religious institutions, and even outdoors in public spaces.

CBED has been designed as open source and licensed under Creative Commons to promote free redistribution and access to the materials and project resources. By remaining open source, CBED aims to strengthen the materials by promoting opportunities for organizations and individuals to collaborate and produce a product that no one could achieve alone and which best meets the needs of different communities and target groups. For these reasons the CBED packages have been developed and shared in a MSWORD format and to overcome issues experienced by those operating older versions of Microsoft Word (pre‐2007) or other word processing programs, the PDF versions have been created.
Experience following C-BED in the field has been that the majority of participants are keen to continue with further training on enterprise development. This is one of the reasons that C-BED is a good fit as an entry point into more specialized programs and training. The ILO has developed a tool to follow-up with C-BED graduates 6 months and 12 months after completion to identify if improvements have been successful and measure concrete results.

What We Do

The knowledge we get builds on top of what we already know. We then have to apply the new knowledge in business.C-BED Participant

C-BED Overview

With limited technical support from the ILO on a case-by-case basis, organizations in the field are able to easily adapt these tools to their community, without needing to invest in expensive training certification, maintaining networks of trained trainers, and without the use of external consultants.

C-BED training is led by a facilitator from the community or training group themselves who is not expected to and usually does not have subject matter expertise relevant to the training. Within C-BED, communication is more important than information provision so the training materials are designed to support facilitators to promote group-driven learning and guide participants through a series of practical hands-on activities. With support of step-by-step instructions, C-BED facilitators are able to guide small groups through activities which encourage participants to use their own experiences to explore how they make sense of their business. In this way, all participants share responsibility for the learning outcomes and locally focused community networks among entrepreneurs are strengthened.