A unique initiative to develop and make use of our francophone MBA students’ marketing know-how to support the economic growth of developing countries has recently led to the presentation of an export marketing plan for a Honduran company. Members of the Honduran embassy, including Her Excellency the Ambassador, Sofia Cerrato, Consul Hector Ramirez and the Ambassador’s spouse, Mr. Alfonso Fonseka, honoured us with their presence during the presentation of the marketing plan for the Honduran company Fabrica Especias Don Julio, developed by the MBA team tasked with studying the potential of their spicy sauces in Canada.

Over the last twenty years, students taking part in the strategic marketing course of the francophone MBA program have contributed their skills to job creation and poverty relief in developing countries, applying advanced marketing concepts to real business situations. Initiated in 1993 by Professor Georges Hénault, now Professor Emeritus at the Telfer School of Management, a collaborative partnership was established between the strategic marketing course offered as part of the francophone MBA at the Telfer School of Management of the University of Ottawa and TFO Canada (This non-governmental non-profit organization facilitates access to the Canadian market and shares Canadian business expertise to benefit small exporters in developing countries).

Providing appropriate Canadian market penetration strategies

This unique collaborative venture presents students with cases of real businesses operating in developing and emerging economies that wish to export to Canada. As part of their term project, students develop an export marketing plan that consists of: 1) acquiring a good understanding of the company’s skills and context; 2) preparing a thorough analysis of the Canadian market for the targeted goods and services through a study of relevant documents and interviews with importers, wholesalers and retailers; 3) developing a Canadian market penetration plan for the company that includes a segmentation, targeting and positioning strategy appropriate for the goods or services as well as tactics of the marketing mix; 4) proposing an implementation plan and control measures.

Fruitful partnership, enriching learning experience

Taken over in 2006 by Professor Martine Spence after the retirement of Professor Hénault, this partnership has existed for two decades thanks to the vision of TFO Canada representatives, especially Lidia Karamaoun who has been involved since the very beginning as a project manager, and of professors who saw it as both as a unique learning opportunity and as a way for students to gain experience while at the same time contributing to the economic and social development of these countries. Although there has not always been systematic follow-up with the companies involved, some have clearly benefited from implementing the students’ recommendations.

Over the years, various goods and services from a number of Latin American, Asian and African countries have been studied. This year, marketing plans have focused on spicy sauces from Honduras, honey from Indonesia, handmade embroidered bead bags from Haiti and cut roses from Ecuador.

Photo: Mr. Alfonso Fonseka, Professor Martine Spence, Geneviève Boudreau, Her Excellency Sofia Cerrato Ambassador of Honduras, Judith Ferreira Cunha, André Breault, Esther Brice, Christian Beaulé, Mr. Hector Ramirez, Consul of Honduras.