Harambee Imports

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As we planned this project, we had two objectives in mind. We wanted to develop an income-earning student business that could earn enough to support our school economy. We also wanted to train the students to run all aspects of the business.


Capital Resources, consumer, cost, division of labor, goods, human resources, philanthropy, producer, profit, services


Before starting a company we discussed a few ideas with a local businessman. His suggestions and leadership moved us directly into the idea of supporting two worthy causes while accomplishing the two purposes of the business. His idea was to use some donated funds as seed money to import handcrafts produced by the people being supported by a mission in Thailand which takes care of women with AIDS and their sick children. The women at the mission make several different products which they sell to support themselves. We would in turn sell the products at selected venues and use the profits to support Harambee’s school economy for next year.


Step 1:

  • Together, the classes decided to call their new business Harambee Imports, Inc.
  • We ordered the products from Thailand and discussed with our students the way in which selling the products in this country can greatly aid the poor in another nation. Although we could have simply raised some money and sent it to Thailand, by purchasing their products, we not only were able to transfer the money to them, but we also provided a market for their goods. Our students understood that as more goods were sold in Thailand, more workers could be hired, production could be expanded, and more children could be given a chance for a better life. • We wrote job descriptions for the positions our 4th and 5th graders would have in the company.
  • We had students consider their skill/gift set and write a “resume” showing what they could offer to the company.
  • The students then read the job descriptions, applied for jobs, got training on interviewing, interviewed for jobs, and got jobs.

Step 2:

  • Marketers (students) were trained in Power Point and developed advertisements that would be used for the sale.
  • Store managers and sales people were trained in pricing, retail display, change making, sales, and customer service.

Step 3:

  • Students produced pricing charts and promotional sandwich signs for the sale.
  • Students sold the products, ran the cash registers, and did promotional speaking at the sale (with a lot of mostly unneeded adult supervision). The sale lasted for three days.
  • Students performed remarkably well. Between the charm and skill of the students and the lure of supporting two worthy causes (Harambee Economic Literacy Program and the House of Love in Thailand), we generated enough income to support most of our school economy next year. This was a learning experience for all of us. We intend for this to become an annual enterprise, and have researched efficiencies we could put in place to lower our costs next year, thereby generating higher profits.