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Baylor Professors Introduce New Concepts With Coke

Oct. 28, 2011

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Edward Simiyu is a pastor in Kenya. He hosted Dr. McCormick and Dr. Gray this summer, as the the two Baylor business professors taught local entrepreneurs. Members of his church took part in a series of classes whose beginnings were rooted in Honduras. McCormick stumbled onto one of the most effective teaching tools he'd ever seen there, when a conversation about business was transformed when Coke helped make concepts concrete. McCormick said that teaching is necessary. In Honduras, Kenya, and around the world, business concepts can be pretty primitive.

Craig spoke to McCormick and Gray after taking part in their classes this summer in Rwanda. Craig is an American who settled in Rwanda to start a business. He settled on the plumbing business, and sees the difference in the American and African mindset.

Van Gray noted those differences, and said several ideas regarding partnerships were quite new. The Coke Bottle lessons help cultivate a mindset about serving customers, taking risks, and how to take those risks smartly. Many concepts are new worldwide. It might make sense to us, for example, that a restaurant a business can mark up speciality items more than staple products. But to a rural Honduran grocer, that concept was revolutionary. He just purchased items to sell and marked them all up 10 percent. McCormick remembers the grocer's shock at learning the answer to a question: does a restaurant make a bigger profit on a sandwich or a soda?

Networking, margins, marketing-all ideas new to many that McCormick and Gray met in Honduras and Africa. When we continue the series next week, we'll look at how growth could impact smaller entrepreneurs, and how these Coke Bottle Business lessons might grow along with them. Prior stories are available online at kwbu.org. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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