Sustainers Iraqis partner to build business initiatives
July 16, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Coalition Soldiers will partner with local Iraqi business leaders to teach business skills at an extravaganza bazaar here July 4.
The civil military operations office of the 287th Sustainment Brigade invited 14 local Iraqi businesses to take part in a shopping extravaganza that will serve both Soldiers wanting to purchase items from Iraqis and as a way for Iraqis to learn how to build strong business strategies. The goal is for the Iraqis to sustain their business after the drawdown of Coalition forces.
"The vision of the extravaganza is to teach the average Iraqi business owner to set up a shop, establish a customer base and expand their business," said Capt. Margo Flores, the business coordinator from the 287th Sust. Bde.
One of the lessons the vendors are learning is to build a client base, said Flores, a resident of Estelle Manor, N.J. She said the business owners learn to track who is buying what and when they are buying it.
"We are trying to teach them more than just Business 101," Flores said. "Even if they move to Basrah or Baghdad they can do well as long as they take these business skills and apply them in the new location."
Flores said they showed the business owners statistics based on two similar extravaganzas they hosted in the past. The primary customers are young Soldiers who spends $20 and wants something usable. The 35 to 45-years-olds will spend more money on one item to mail home.
"We want to show the concept that it is sometimes better to sell lower cost items but more of it instead of a higher cost item that doesn't sell as much," Flores said.
"We explain to them if you sell items for $50 you may only sell $200 worth of product. If you sell $20 items, you can sell $2,000 of that item which brings in more revenue."
The business lessons are building confidence in the business owner, Flores said. The business owners build a stronger Iraqi economy, which helps makes their nation stronger, she said.
"Once they build their confidence they can take their business anywhere because they know how to establish a new customer base, they know their products sell and which ones sell the best," Flores said.
A good lesson Flores shared with future vendors on product selection was in a past extravaganza vendors sold blankets and small carpets. The vendors learned blankets won't sell in the summer but the carpets sold great because they were less expensive and could be rolled up and shipped home, she said.
"We're getting great feedback from the business owners," Flores said. "They want to participate and are very eager to learn how to establish their business