Tuesday, January 11, 2011

KOWH Business Teaching: Week 2

Materials, transport, booth rental, and labor are a few of the elements that go into product costs for the artisans at Konoweka Orphans and Widows Hut. The women were easily able to identify how they spent their money when preparing the handcrafts, but when we talked about how the costs related to the price they charge for their products they got this far-off look on their faces. They were all realizing a small problem…in some cases they weren’t charging prices that covered their costs let alone allowed for food, school fees, and other expenses.

Together we created a simple financial model to help guide the pricing of their products by addressing costs, profit, and price in a general sense. Each woman makes a different craft so one price won’t work for all, but the model remains the same. We added in the competition factor when it came to product pricing and I challenged the women to observe their competitors over the course of the next week and report back what they find.

These guys came for the business teaching, so they said.
After realizing the cost of their products we talked about typical ways profit can be spent. First, tithing. I acknowledged how difficult it might sometimes be to tithe from the first fruits when the kids are hungry. But we agreed that God is much bigger than our simple hunger and that obedience to him was the first step in resolving the hunger issue. We actually spent a good deal of time on the topic. I never imagined how perfectly the widow and two mites story would so perfectly fit a situation in real life. On a side note, I realized how perfectly American the English Bible translations are. The widow gave two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny,” which I converted into shillings.

Second, practical needs – food, school fees, shelter. This mode of spending made perfect sense to everyone involved. Finally, saving. Not surprisingly, I lost most of the women when we got to this topic. Rather than pressure them to save what they don’t have, I tried to paint a picture of the opportunities saving helps create. Still, to be honest, this was a tough topic to instill under the circumstances. We’ve all had times in our lives when we weren’t able to save. It’s not always a matter of discipline, but instead it’s a matter of portion.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).