Students do poverty simulation for 3M presentation

By Aimee Gomez

For the first time, students from Baylor and the University of Houston who are attending the same class, Sales for Social Impact, at different schools will participate together in the Mission Waco/Mission World poverty simulation this weekend.

Eight students from the University of Houston and 11 Baylor students will begin the simulation at 8 p.m. today. They will be joined by Dr. Andrea Dixon, executive director of the Center of Professional Selling and Sales for Social Impact professor at Baylor and Susana Rosas, Sales for Social Impact professor at the University of Houston.

The simulation is normally open to youth who have completed the eighth grade and adults, but this weekend the students and professors will be the only participants in the simulation, which will end at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Details of the simulation were not released to the participants beforehand.

Dixon and Susana Rosas, the Sales for Social Impact professor at the University of Houston, met at a University of Sales Center Alliance event. They said they thought it would be a great opportunity for their students to do the simulation together.

“We thought it would be great to collaborate together since the students in both classes are developing sales plans,” Rosas said.

Dixon said this partnership with the University of Houston class is a unique opportunity.

“It is not often that schools collaborate across universities, particularly public and private universities,” Dixon said.

The class is designed to help students understand and create business models that benefit and meet the needs of an impoverished society.

For the class, the Baylor students have been divided into three teams and the University of Houston students into two teams.

They have been assigned the creation of a business plan for a country with an underdeveloped economy.

The Baylor and University of Houston students will develop a business model for different countries.

The students are participating in the simulation to gain insight into the market of an underdeveloped country.

“The poverty simulation is an intense weekend experience of understanding poverty and those affected by it,” said Jimmy Dorrell, director of Mission Waco/Mission World and Lecturer in the Civic Education and Community Services.

Dixon said the simulation will give the students a view of an underdeveloped country’s market conditions.

“The students can’t begin to develop business models with the understanding of how someone can live on less than $15 a month until they have experienced what that means,” Dixon said.

Lafayette, La., senior Andrew Smith, who will participate in the simulation, said he looks forward to the knowledge he’ll gain.

“I hope to see the psychological aspects of poverty. I want to see what it feels like to live on less than a dollar a day,” Smith said.

Smith said the mind-set of consumers is going to be different because the target market in an emerging economy doesn’t plan for the longterm; students must learn to anticipate this.

Cuero senior Emily Reese said she is dropping all preconceived notions about poverty to better assess the needs of the underdeveloped world during the simulation.

“Our assumptions, a lot of the times, prevent us from seeing solutions and from understanding the market because we assume that it has to fit into the business model of the developed world,” Reese said. “We assume that our needs are the same as theirs.”

Raul Giron, a junior at the University of Houston, said the simulation will help him understand the differences between poverty in an emerging country versus a developed country.

“It will help me compare and contrast poverty in the U.S. and in an emerging economy,” Giron said.

The two schools will meet again in the last week of November and the team from each university with the best business plan will present them to the company sponsor of the course, 3M, which supports the course through a grant.