March 20, 2012
So I lied. I realized that I was so focused on site placement because it is exciting that I didn’t really mention the tech training. It is mini business school, where we have a different lesson each day, kind of like study abroad. So far we have covered SWOT analysis, feasibility studies, business plans, and marketing. It’s actually really useful review, since I haven’t thought about some of this stuff in a long time and grassroots business skills are what we will be teaching our counterparts.
We are also doing projects. The first one is working with a carpenter, embroiderer, or storeowner and talking to them about SWOT, marketing, and finance. We meet with them each Wednesday for three weeks and then give them some recommendations. This has been pretty good so far; we ask the marketing questions tomorrow. I am in the embroidery group. The woman we are meeting with has an organization of about 70 embroiderers. They do really beautiful work.
The other project we are doing is really interesting and kind of scary because we could totally fail haha. Each group of four is creating an IGA (income generating activity) for the market in Manjakadriana, about an hour from where we are in Mantasoa. We have to come up with an idea and sell it at the market there, and we have to do it as if we are a typical enterprise. Therefore, we have to rent or buy all of the materials, anything we are using, such as a table, stove, raw materials, markers to make a banner ect. If we use something we already own we have to “rent” it, i.e. put it in the budget. Each person in the group gets 20,000 Ar (about $10) to spend on everything. We got the assignment yesterday (Monday), and we sell on Monday. Yikes!
One of the requirements is that you cannot sell anything that is already being sold there, so you don’t take away from someone’s existing business. Our group has decided to sell fondue. We are currently looking at melting chocolate that we buy from a local “epicerie” (store) in a couple pots that we “rent” from our host families over a charcoal stove-like contraption that we also rent. We are going to buy pineapple (mananasy), bananas (akondro), and goavy tsina (a cherry like fruit) to dip in the chocolate. I have decided to call it “when I dip, you dip, we dip,” so long as that doesn’t translate to something vulgar, and we are totally going to play that song to drum up some business J.
Should be an interesting endeavor to say the least. The scariest part is the PC van drivers aren’t taking us; we have to take our first taxi-brousse ride! And we have to be there and ready to go at 6:30 am. Now, we do get up early here, but that means getting up around 4! I haven’t done that since high school swimming haha. Usually looking at that time from the other side…
Hopefully it will go well! Monday’s post is gonna be hella long, talking about my IGA AND placement. Holy wow, crazy day. Gonna be exhausted by the end of it too!
Tiako ianareo! Veloma!!