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Students work in Ghana

This summer a 2003 Park City High School alum has been busy working halfway around the world in the African country of Ghana.

Tara Hair, along with three other BYU students, Jennia Parkin, Andrew Stewart and Justin King applied to and were chosen for a competitive social entrepreneurship internship in Ghana with Burro, a rechargeable battery company. In Ghana, the company is in its first stages and recruited the students to create a growth plan for the company.

The way Burro sells batteries to Ghanaians is unique in itself. Burro, which has its own brand of rechargeable batteries, sells villagers the power instead of the actual battery. Ghanaians can make a deposit on a battery and pay for every recharge, in the end saving villagers money, said Hair.

The internship provided the four students international experience in an emerging market, Hair said, which is becoming an increasingly important part of international business.

Hair explained that in Ghana there is close to a $5 billion market for batteries because of the lack of electricity in villages across the country. Since Ghanaians are forced to spend so much money on batteries, Burro’s ability to sell the power in each recharge of a battery makes it an economically friendly option for cash-strapped villagers.

"Because of this [system], they end up paying less than half of the price they

currently pay for battery power and, therefore, can purchase more power," Hair

said.

Started last year, Burro began as a pilot program by Whit Alexander. Inventor of the board game Cranium, Alexander sold the game to Hasboro and created the company in Ghana. This summer, Alexander worked with the four BYU students to create a plan to grow the company nearly 300 percent, Hair said.

Hair, studying with a focus in Organizational Behavior/Human Resources, and Parkins, with a focus in Marketing, left for Ghana in April to talk with local consumers and Burro salespeople.

She explained that they had six objectives for their short time in Ghana. To better Burro’s branding, add product lines, better compensate and motivate the sales force, create a hiring process, develop a training structure and to use human resources and marketing strategies to position the company for growth.

After researching the company’s options, the two presented their recommendations to the company at the end of their stay. Hair said the ideas included a hub-and-spoke model for training that cuts travel times, making training for new products more efficient. Burro has already adopted her idea in some parts of the company structure.

Two other students visited Ghana to work with Burro. King, MBA student with a focus in finance, worked with the companies internal finances, Hair said, and spent June in on the ground in Ghana. Stewart studies social entrepreneurship and worked with all three other students, staying involved with all aspects of the process.

Hair said the experience was a big step forward in learning international business, especially in emerging markets around the world.

"It was a really good way for me to get a look at emerging markets," Hair said. "It is really, really hard to go to a place where you’re totally out of your element and still be on your A-game."

Hair, who works as an intern with Proctor and Gamble in human resources at Gillette, said the trip opened her eyes to how important it is to be able to work around the world.

"I still have a ton to learn," she said. "But [the ability to work around the world] is a skill that international businesspeople have to learn."


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