The world of culinary art and its chefs turned celebrities has infiltrated nearly every channel on television over the past decade. While some shows focus on the chef conversing one-on-one with the audience (just as Julia Child once did over a pot of steaming boeuf bourguignon in her kitchen), many series look past the talented cook and the tasty plates of food to the heart of a chef’s living: the running of a restaurant business. Without the execution of a sound business plan or the right pricing for their meals, these chefs would have no venue for their craft. In a similar way, the mothers of Ganamos must adhere to business practices that will be necessary for their survival as entrepreneurs. Week seven of Ganamos reinforced several of these essential business-related concepts for the moms as they struggled with unfamiliar ideas and felt apprehension over their last weeks of preparation.
To start the week off, most of the ladies attended Monday night’s English class with Reggie while Vicky and Ana, two of the more advanced English speakers, filled out a sample Enloop business proposal with Jennifer, an active Ganamos volunteer. Jennifer introduced them to the free online business proposal application so they could get a better sense of what would be needed for their own group’s business proposals. As she worked with the ladies, Jennifer asked what they thought about being the contact people for English-speaking business owners in their groups, and if they would pitch their products to consignment shops. Vicky and Ana said that the thought hadn’t occurred to them. “I think both [women] were insecure about the idea,” Jennifer said, “but eventually they will need a sales pitch to promote their goods.” A recent consultation with a shop owner she knows inspired Jennifer to get the women thinking about different future venues for their goods. She showed her friend some of the Ganamos moms’ crafts and received very positive feedback, along with prices that were higher than any of the moms expected. For example, a ring the mothers would price at a dollar might sell for five dollars at her friend’s establishment. Accustomed to discount stores and products made cheaply abroad, the Ganamos moms were highly skeptical of higher price points.
The moms spent a productive and peaceful Tuesday class working on their crafts, but the skepticism over higher pricing reemerged during Wednesday’s business lesson, along with frustrations over absences, completing their business plans, and accomplishing everything in time for their impending graduation from the program. Jennifer was on hand for this class, too, and witnessed a similar reaction to what she saw on Monday. The women worked on their product descriptions for their final presentation books and their future product websites. Determining cost per unit and factoring labor into pricing again entered the discussion, and as Jennifer reported, there was an uproar. “The ladies were . . . concerned with the price of their products being too expensive because people can get it cheaper elsewhere,” she said. “We were trying to make them understand that if we promote it under the Ganamos name and the cause, that people will actually put the money forth and support them.” Her personal goal that night was to empower the women “to feel more valuable, to feel that their time and art are valuable.”
Mike, the usual Wednesday class instructor, definitely noticed the same energy and concerns circulating among the groups. “Good momentum is picking up and the groups are starting to get ‘lively’ regarding their products and selection. Towards the end of Wednesday’s class, there was also a lot of inter-table discussion about following the business formula and arriving at a cost that will not be competitive.”
He also pointed out a very timely concern. “ I sense that a couple of groups are still not either understanding or not appreciating that they now need to decide which products they should concentrate on to maximize volume and value sales to secure good profits to be evenly shared amongst them.” His sense of their confusion was correct. The ladies did have many questions and needed a good venting session for their concerns tonight, but ran out of time. Not every group member had been present for important decision-making sessions, and their absences compounded worries among their counterparts. Pregnancies, illness, family issues, and the everyday demands of home and work were taking a toll on the ladies. Seeing their frustration, Blase and the other volunteers had the women write down their concerns down on paper and bring them in next Tuesday to be looked over by Blase and Linda, one of the bilingual volunteers.
So, what’s next for our Ganamos mothers? Now they get down to the nitty-gritty. Each person can bring in one, and only one, product next week so the group can finalize which items they will present to SVDP volunteer judges for the competition in week ten. They also need to finalize their business plans, including the pricing of their products. As Mike puts it, “This is going to be a important point in their program and ability to move forward.”
The Ganamos volunteers also had homework to accomplish. As Jennifer looked for more online resources and advisors for the women, Linda reached out to The Wheat Project and other groups that do the same thing as Ganamos so the volunteers and participants could gain insights from them and learn from their experiences. Several of the volunteers held a special meeting on Friday to evaluate the past week and determine the best course of action for the few remaining classes.
Stay tuned in and visit the SVDP blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed every week for the latest updates on our Ganamos moms, including video from the classes on the Ganamos Youtube Playlist. And don’t forget to follow the blog right here on www.helpingthepoor.org, to get the latest developments in the Ganamos groups’ progress as artists and entrepreneurs!
If you want to contribute to The Ganamos Project, we can use your help! To volunteer during class or donate supplies, please contact SVDP Program Director Blase Bova at email@example.com. You can also contribute to the women’s scholarships through a secure online form athttps://secure5.extremezone.com/stvdpssl/donate.asp. Write the word “Ganamos” in the comments so your gift will go entirely to the women’s collective.
If you’d like to be a student in a future series of Ganamos classes, you can add your name to our waiting list here.
Thanks for reading!