In 2001 Eliza and I went to Kitwe in the Copper Belt area of Zambia, to run Income/Outcome workshops for Chambishi Metals and to license them to do their own training.
We ran a ‘Finance For Everyone’ (Level 2) workshop for their Managers (mostly South African expats), and a ‘Business Basics’ workshop for their Union shop stewards (local Zambians). We then licensed the Training Manager to continue teaching ‘Business Basics’.
We found the local Zambians to be extremely intelligent and entrepreneurial – each typically spoke four languages fluently, and they tended to be developing a small business on the side within their family.
But their formal business understanding was non-existent. We took a full day to run what is normally a 4-hour workshop in the US. We began with an exercise I created spontaneously to explain the concept of Equity, telling the story of buying and selling a house.
All fundamental business concepts were as new to them as they would be to American high school students:
- understanding your total costs, and your cost structure
- the difference between cash flow and profit
- the need to control working capital
- the double benefit of increased efficiency – higher volume AND lower cost per unit
- the use of Income Statement and Balance Sheet
- basic ratios like debt-to-equity and Return on Assets
There is an enormous need for basic business literacy in less developed economies, to give people the tools to improve their lives. Business simulations are the most effective in speed and clarity of learning, but the challenge is in rolling them out in an efficient and affordable way. Andromeda Training is always improving its solutions.