ASCC Marketing students tour Samoa businesses
The learning goals of the class Marketing and Management Practicum (MKT 212) offered by the Business Department at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) include a firsthand observation of the start-to-finish process by which consumer goods are produced and marketed.
Three students taking MKT 212 this semester recently returned from a self-financed trip to the Independent State of Samoa, where they gained insight into the country’s entrepreneurial acumen through visits to numerous factories and small businesses.
“It’s a part of the Business Programs-National Standards that prospective business management graduates have direct observation on how various goods are produced, what packaging methods work best, and to how various methods of distributions are used to market the products,” explained Dr. Faofua Fa’atoafe, head of the Business Department, who accompanied students Sandy Lautua (Trip President), Punafofoa Mase (Trip Treasurer), and Sinaretta Schwenke (Trip Secretary) on their six-day visit to Samoa.
As part of the strategy to bridge in-class theory with real-life application, as the MKT 212 students observe the transformation of raw materials into consumer goods, they are asked to consider factors such as potential improvements in technology, the effects of international trade regulations, the value of diversity and innovation in the workforce, and how business cope with times of material or financial scarcity.
Upolu factories and businesses visited by the ASCC group included Samco Chips, Tafaoata Chips, Supreme Ice Cream, the Yasaki Plant, Uncle Johnny’s, Le Vai Purified Water, and Soap from Heaven-Fasimoli mai le Lagi, a small business that produces home-made soap, body lotion, body scrubs, and pure Samoan coconut oil with fragrance for use in massage.
They also observed the work of the Samoa Research Center, where virgin avocado oil has been developed for cooking, and a form of butter is now being produced from avocado oil. The group also took in the island of Savai’i, where despite a lack of factories, creative business ideas are already reaping benefits. The owners of a home-based business called “Swimming with the Turtles” shared with the students that they net between $500 to $1000 WS a week even in slow visitor seasons and close to $2000WS per week during high peak seasons.
The MKT 212 students who participated in the trip raised their own traveling funds through activities such as bake sales, the scheduling of which was in itself a lesson in time budgeting. The Business students began the current semester by holding their sales for two days a week, and then as the departure date loomed nearer, they intensified their efforts to three times a week. Careful planning and budgeting left them with enough resources to cover airfares, accommodation, transportation, uniforms, visa fees, and even a small “thank you” envelope for the managers of each factory and business the students were hosted by.
With the Samoa experience now behind them, the MKT 212 students will spend the remainder of the semester fulfilling the remaining major requirement of the class, which is to spend 30 to 40 hours per week working with a local business in a management or marketing capacity. “While the students do this work in the private sector without compensation, it gives them invaluable experience in the organizational end of running a business,” said Dr. Fa’atoafe.
“This is how we ensure that an ASCC graduate in Business has experience in the field that ranges from the production and marketing of goods to the day-to-day office operations of a commercial enterprise.”
After returning from Samoa, Dr. Fa’atoafe and her students observed the protocol of holding a presentation last for the parents of the students who had made the trip. The presentation included a full report from Dr. Fa’atoafe on the many destinations the travelers had experienced, an individual testimony from each of the students, and a small monetary gift for each family (from leftover travel funds) in recognition of their support for the project.
“It’s an honor that these parents trust us with the well-being of their sons and daughters when they participate in a valuable learning experience such as a trip overseas,” said Dr. Fa’atoafe. “We also offer our heartfelt thanks to the ASCC administration and faculty for accommodating our schedule, and to the whole ASCC family for supporting our fundraising efforts.”
For more information on the ASCC Business Department and other programs, visit the College’s website at: www.amsamoa.edu.