Nine Pakistani businesswomen recently delved into the dizzying world of budgets, revenue projections, cost analysis and more with Thunderbird Professor Michael Petersen, PhD., who led classroom discussions covering two days during Project Artemis Pakistan. The women’s empowerment program, which ran May 2-15, 2011, was organized at Thunderbird School of Global Management in partnership with the U.S. State Department and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women.
“This is a very rewarding experience for all of us,” said Petersen, a clinical accounting professor who visited with each Pakistani entrepreneur individually to discuss her particular business and her accounting challenges. “The ladies are all very impressive; their current level of business knowledge and the great amount of experience they have helped them to be able to relate the concepts I was teaching to their own situations.”
He said the accounting lessons can have immediate impact on the women’s businesses. “Unlike some students who are far removed from the real inner workings of a business, these ladies wanted to know the information so they could apply it now,” he said. “It’s rewarding to see that Project Artemis and the topics we are discussing seem to be able to make a real difference in someone’s life.”
Petersen shared accounting terms and planning tools with the visiting entrepreneurs, who ranged in age from 25 to 50. Classroom discussions focused on budgeting for fixed and variable expenses and limiting chaotic or impulsive spending. The students also did a hands-on exercise featuring the classic “Baron Coburg” accounting puzzle.
Petersen was fascinated with the stories and the ground-breaking efforts shared by the Artemis participants.
“Many of these businesswomen spoke of the lack of trust others back home have in their businesses,” he said. “They would be expected to grant credit terms to their customers but would not have the same courtesy extended to them. This requires a larger investment in working capital and greater risk to them, but they all seemed to accept it as the way things are.”
He said the women wanted to know more about the professional and accepted ways to work around these challenges.
“One of the women summed up the best point for me,” Petersen said. “In addition to the knowledge, we are embedding a sense of hope that they are not alone. Many other businesses and economies have faced these challenges before and have come out stronger for it. These ladies see this as an example of where they can be with time and effort. Skills can be taught, but hope has to come within.”