by Joshua Hulkkonen

Exuberant cheers and celebration filled the air as the girls arrived home from their first night selling crêpes. Seventeen brightly-dressed teenage girls jumped up and down, telling their house mothers all about the evening. The grand opening of their crêpe cart had gone better than they could have imagined!

The idea for the cart was born just a month before, as part of a new eight-week business class offered by Destiny Rescue in one of our Cambodia rescue homes.

Nearly all the girls in the home decided to participate in the class. The girls spent the first four weeks in the classroom, doing hands-on activities to learn everything they’d need to know about starting and running a small business. The final four weeks of the class were spent in action, learning about business management by selling crêpes.

The girls were given the responsibility of coming up with a name for their crêpe business, conducting market research, starting and maintaining a bank account, and keeping track of profits and losses.

They learned that in a busy city, selling 40 to 50 crêpes in eight hours of business is considered a success. Because the girls live in a much smaller city, and because they didn’t plan to spend the whole day selling, they prepared enough batter to make 40 crêpes. They hoped to sell at least 20.

Our first night, we planned to sell for four hours. They sold out in two…

Destiny Rescue Business Assistant Jennifer Nyhof

“I think we were all shocked at how well the first night went. Not because we didn’t believe in them, but because it’s a new venture,” said Julie Smith, Assistant to the Cambodia Country Manager.

The girls’ success didn’t stop there. The second night, they sold more than 60 crêpes, and the momentum continued into nights three and four.

“We gave the girls ownership from the very beginning and I think it contributed to the success they had once they started selling the crêpes on the street,” Destiny Rescue Business Manager Rob Nyhof said.

“We’ve noticed that people in Cambodia can be scared to take a risk,” says Jennifer. “A poverty mentality probably plays a huge part in this. They don’t have the resources to take a risk on something they don’t know and could possibly fail in. I feel that there are many aspects of this class that the girls are now familiar with, thus taking the ‘unknown’ risks out of the equation.”

When the class ended, the girls had a party with lots of food, dancing and cheering. They had so much fun celebrating their completion of the class and the hard work they’d put in!

The skills that the girls learned while selling crêpes are very practical and can be applied in other businesses as well. After learning how to run a business in a safe, guided environment, the girls have a much better chance at succeeding in their own ventures later on.

Four of the girls have decided to keep the crêpe cart running. They’ll continue to sell crêpes to earn some extra income and learn even more about managing a small business.