On May 22, nearly 40 international MBA students spent the day touring Goodwill of Central Arizona’s (Phoenix) retail and mission services operations. The students, who visited for a week as part of the HEC Paris Executive MBA program, toured one of the Goodwill’s nearly 60 retail stores to observe front-end retail operations and behind-the-scenes merchandise processing. They also visited the agency’s retail operations center to view the clearance center, recycling and salvage processing, and the on-site Goodwill Career Center.
While the concept of thrift stores is familiar in the United States, the process of donating items and selling them to shoppers of varied socioeconomic backgrounds is less common in other parts of the world. Goodwill’s business model of collecting items donated by the community and turning them into revenue to support its nonprofit mission while reducing environmental impact was an entirely new concept for many of the students.
“There’s a huge opportunity to spread the model of Goodwill around the world,” said student Moulaye Aly Haidara of Mali.
The students shared that the opportunity to view Goodwill’s processes demonstrated the ability of a charity to be a sustainable business and that the Phoenix Goodwill’s systems and procedures were more impressive than many of the for-profit organizations they had visited. They praised Goodwill for being an organized, efficient and effective steward of the resources with which the community had entrusted them.
“It’s amazing. It’s a whole process,” Alexandra Giacacalome of Paris said. “The retail is one goal, and employment is a goal. And I love the green part of your business.”