A New Habitat
Fox MBAs craft business plans – in a day
– for Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia
Nearly 40 Fox
School of Business students recently spent a day engaged in community service
with Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia. But no one touched a hammer.
Through a unique
partnership, Fox School students crafted business plans and presented recommendations
for a Philadelphia ReStore, a Habitat for Humanity outlet that would sell donated
building materials at reduced prices.
Fox’s Enterprise Management Consulting Practice
(EMC), a required capstone consulting experience, led the
business-plan-in-a-day program to show its second-year MBA students what they
can expect during the balance of the EMC course. A small group of undergraduate
honors students also participated.
The Sept. 14 event carried with it make-or-break
stakes. The students, broken into two teams, were tasked with organizing their
research, conducting industry and market analysis, and developing strategic
positioning and value propositions.
Clinical faculty, outside experts and Habitat
representatives from three local ReStores guided the students, who examined
marketing, operations, human resources and financials. At the end of the day,
they made professional-grade presentations to Habitat representatives and other
Frank Monaghan, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, said the students will help the nonprofit provide detailed
documentation for Habitat officials to approach foundations and lenders for
funding. Habitat will also present the students’ suggestions to its Board of
“We’re going to
have a lot more documentation, and when it comes from a reputable institution
like Temple, it’s going to mean a lot more,” Monaghan said.
conclusion: go for it. The increasingly
popular ReStores typically diversify and strengthen income streams. There are more
than 650 ReStores operating successfully nationwide, and 100 more are expected to
open in the next year.
Through monthly yard sales, and with little
marketing, Philadelphia’s Habitat has already netted $20,000 through its small
ReStore on 19th and Berks streets, just blocks from Temple’s Main Campus.
For Habitat, an economically sustainable ReStore
would serve many goals, including saving usable building supplies and home
furnishings from landfills, reaching underserved market segments with
affordable goods, providing additional volunteer opportunities and making more
money to build more homes.
EMC Managing Director TL Hill and Clinical
Professor James Hutchin said the students concluded that Philadelphia’s ReStore
would break even in a year and could pay back, if needed, the money raised to
launch the venture within three years. During a five-year period, Hutchin
estimated, Habitat could build at least 10 houses that otherwise wouldn’t have
Throughout the day, Hutchin said he saw in students
“exceptional team skills and quiet competency.”
lot of it has to do with the attention they’re giving to working together,”
Amid towers of
empty pizza boxes and rows of Box of Joe coffee containers, students debated
partnership opportunities, inventory software and whether a ReStore
receptionist would be overworked. Later, they analyzed everything from the cost
of making a sign to the color choice for PowerPoint slides.
process is understanding the problem,” MBA student Andrew Martel said. “The
biggest difference between class and the real world is that the problems aren’t
clearly laid out for you. You have to fall back on the class experiences to get
through. When we sat down six hours ago, we didn’t know where to start.”
But Habitat representatives know where students using their expertise for
social good should end.
“I would love,
in 10 years, for them to be driving in the area, with their kids in the car
going to soccer practice, seeing three or four ReStores that we have and saying
to their kids, ‘I started that,’” Monaghan said.
– Brandon Lausch