Klotz teaches community development through business

Students enrolled in the Principles of Community Development class at John Brown University are learning, firsthand, about the ups and downs of creating a business in October and November..

“There is a lot of talk today on micro-loans,” Ed Klotz, professor of biblical studies, said.

Both secular and religious non-profits now focus on helping those from other countries develop a marketable skill and turn it into a profitable business.

“They usually help set up businesses to thrive locally,” he added.

To supplement his students’ learning in the classroom, Klotz decided several years ago to begin assigning a group business project. It produces a simulation experience. Students divide into small groups of their choice, are loaned $25 and instructed to develop a short term business plan.

The goal is for students to enhance their communication and interpersonal skills while learning more about competition and the business world.

“Students should be making a profit,” Klotz explained.

A few of the projects students initiated this year include Pumpkin Grams, a note with candy students could pay to be delivered the week of Halloween; Recyclify, which collected and then resold gently used clothing items on campus; and Iron Sharpens Iron.

Senior Haley Gilbert is part of a group that will be walking around campus with a jar of M&Ms and asking people to guess how many are inside. The cost to participate is 25 cents, and the winner receives the whole jar.

“We’re keeping it as simple as we could while still hoping to get a good profit from it,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert also emphasized the importance of creativity, saying those solutions often end up becoming the most effective.

After each group has completed their project and presented their results to the class, the total sum will be donated to an organization or person of the student’s choice.

This class selected Sheila West. West is a current student who will return to South Sudan after graduation to serve as a nurse specializing in women’s health.