On Friday, Apr 12th, 2019, the Fond St. Jacques Development Committee hosted a Business Simulation Exercise for two agro-processing businesses located in Fond St. Jacques, Soufriere: Jacq-Co Valley Products Ltd. and Rainforest Foods. The exercise was conducted by professionals of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC), namely by Dr. M. Lashley, Ms. Faye Henry, Ms. M.L. Catty and Mr. E. Ottley.
The exercise, also referred to as a Micro Business Game, has been developed as “a highly interactive training for microentrepreneurs and for all people who want to learn in practice how the success and sustainability of start-ups and small businesses can be improved”.
The Mirco Business Game comes in the form of a haptic board game, where the players are put into a scenario in which they act as entrepreneurs who run a juice shop in a village. At the starting point, the players are presented with the circumstances of their operation, e.g. how the idea came about, how the shop currently operates, what the products are, who its employees are, and what the business currently looks like in terms of facts and figures.
The participants have to get into the details right from the beginning: What are the projected sales for the next period? How many units of raw material are needed to produce one unit of product? How much raw material is needed to produce the anticipated amount of product? How much does one unit of raw material cost? How many units of raw material have to be purchased to produce the projected amount of product? What are the costs for producing one unit of product? What are the overall production costs and additional costs such as salaries, taxes, electricity? And at the end of the cycle the most important question: how much revenue has been created by selling the product?
At the end of each round, an accounting sheet has to be filled in by the participants to compare the total revenue created with the total accrued costs of operation. If the operation of the juice shop is successful, the created revenue exceeds the costs and the business can start with a bigger bank account into the next round. Notwithstanding the excitement about the positive figure on the bottom line, a virtual financial auditor comes in to check if the books have been filled in properly and the accounts are in order.
Along the way, the participants encounter different events: opportunities for business growth, challenges in their roles as employers, business risks and development opportunities. Decisions have to be made by the participants for each of the events and, of course, the consequences have to be handled. Throughout the exercise, the participants “have to deal with various topics such as financial education, business management and investment-driven market expansion and borrowing.”
Overall, the participants are exposed to every aspect of small business operation and learn hands-on what it means to run a business thoroughly. The realistic scenario together with the setup of the game turn complex and abstract topics related to business operation into a tangible exercise from which everybody can take something home (or to their business, for that matter).
The members of the agro-processing groups were visibly excited about the activity and a number of “A-ha!” moments brought a lot of fun, too. With the support of the CATS programme, the SALCC is planning to further engage with the groups in the Fond St. Jacques area, for example by repeating this simulation exercise and providing tailor-made trainings to the members of the groups.
To learn more about the Micro Business Game, please refer to the website of the developer, the German Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation.