Part of our mission at MZ is to continue helping our artisan partners learn business skills that empower them in their work and their lives. We recently facilitated a Money Management Workshop in Teotítlan del Valle, Oaxaca, with the goal of helping artisan leaders learn strategies for separating their business expenses from their personal, and for tracking their business income and expenses.
We work with a core group of artisans who manage the production of their designs. In order to do that they hire out help, purchase large quantities of materials (which we support through partial up-front payment), and manage their own workshops. Essentially, under the umbrella of MZ, there are a handful of small business owners each running their own show. This system allows for individualized approaches to management, which seems to function better in tight-knit village, than the centralized management system we might be used to in US-based businesses. Additionally, is it a source of pride for these central players on our team, and allows them to viably hone their business skills, which can help them in their work and lives outside of MZ.
We chatted w Founder & CEO Shelley to learn more about this workshop!
MZ: Why is this an important topic for the artisans, and why is it relevant right now?
Since the artisan leaders manage the bulk of our production, it's important for them to know just what they are paying per product, and what they are making in the way of profit. Since they don't really separate their personal from their business expenses, they can't know exactly what their business income is.
This information can help them make more informed decisions about aspects of production and spending, as well as gain more clarity on their profit.
MZ: How was the response and engagement on the part of the artisans?
You could see very clearly during the two-hour period a change in their attitude about tracking their expenses. We gave them a log that would require only a few seconds each day in order to track their daily expenses and income. They did a sample worksheet, which tracked expenses for two weeks, and it helped with some gray areas such as how to divide utility expenses that are part business and part personal expense. The workshop was met with a lot of enthusiasm.
MZ: What do you think the lasting impact or improvement could be?
Sometimes the artisans get frustrated because they handle a large amount of money for producing bags, and yet they don't know exactly what they earn for this management process. Because they realize that this exercise will help them know more about their earnings, they will also be able to manage more efficiently.
MZ: Anything else you'd like to add?
I let them know that I will be reviewing the worksheets with them the next time I come, to see what the results are and discuss how they can use the information. I'm as interested as they are in the findings and looking forward to using the data to help us all improve our business model.
We're excited to continue to help develop the skills of these savvy businesswomen!