Since one of the biggest aspects of my job as a Peace Corps volunteer is teaching basic business skills and encouraging small scale entrepreneurship, I'm always on the hunt for fun or interesting ways to get villagers interested and involved. Though sometimes I put a lot of thought into how I'm going to present certain topics, other times it's just gotta happen organically.
What started out as a fun rainy day activity- baking with the women in my community- has actually become my most successful business class! Once or twice a month I host a women's Baking & Business class in which some of the local ladies and I bake cakes, cookie bars, sweet breads, etc., and as we wait for the sweets to bake, we talk about product costs, pricing margins, product development, and basic marketing.
Since only two or three families in my town have ovens and most still cook over an open fire, we too bake our desserts over an open fire in a McGyver type of makeshift oven. It's simple- a baking pan on top of an empty tuna can inside a larger pot with a lid- but it works.
I usually try to incorporate local ingredients into the products- and since there are bastante bananas, oranges, lemons, cocoa, coffee, and coconuts, it's not too hard. Needless to say, we're never short on taste testers :)
Though most of the women haven't started officially selling their sweets yet, I'm hopeful for the future. They have started baking on their own, and our store owner has pledged his support, so that when they are ready to sell, he'll be their first buyer.