Business management
Case study: Afghan Sun
4 pages
For use in May 2018
Instructions to candidates
y Case study booklet required for higher level paper 1 and standard level paper 1 business
management examinations.
© International Baccalaureate Organization 2018
2218 – 5001
Afghan Sun (AS)
Suchenlin has made her fortune from the success of her business, High-end Holidays (HH),
which sells individually designed holidays to luxury destinations in Africa, Asia and the Pacic
islands. Suchenlin no longer takes part in the day-to-day running of HH. Instead, she has an
input into strategic decision making and she provides the inspiration for the business.
Su, as her friends know her, has made more than enough money to keep her comfortable for
the rest of her life, but she still wants new challenges. She is looking for a completely new
project that will allow her to give back to society.
On a recent trip to Bangladesh, Su discovered the work of Arif Koomar. He founded a for-
prot micronance provider, which trades under the name AK Bank. Very successful, AK Bank
serves much of Bangladesh and has provided nance to over three million households to
buy solar power systems specically commissioned by AK Bank. Each solar power system
generates enough electricity for a household.
Su made an immediate decision. She would nd somewhere else in the world in which a similar
scheme would bring great benets to communities. She eventually identied Afghanistan, a
country with around 34 million people. After years of war, many areas of Afghanistan lack a
reliable supply of electricity. Su saw an opportunity to manufacture a household-based solar
power systems similar to those used in Bangladesh and aimed at poor and often remote
families. She set up a social enterprise called Afghan Sun (AS), which operates as a private
limited company. Su recruited a team of volunteers from HH employees who are keen to work
on the project.
After more detailed research, the team had:
decided the product to be made – solar power systems. These will be produced using
cellular manufacturing. The team wish to purchase cheap raw materials, using resources
eciently to cut waste to enable a very low price to be charged for the units
identied suppliers who share Su’s vision
encouraged Arif Koomar to work with AS and expand the micronance activities of AK Bank
into Afghanistan.
Su thinks it very important that she maintains a leadership role for both HH and AS. However,
she empowers her managers at HH to make day-to-day decisions, including organizing
resources, directing sta, coordinating, and taking tactical decisions. As well as empowering
managers, Su thinks that it is important to empower employees and encourage teamwork by
creating opportunities for employees to discuss working practice, quality issues and matters
concerning employees. Su’s intention is to empower managers similarly at AS while retaining
responsibility for strategic decisions. She believes that her managers are so well motivated and
committed to their work that she feels little need to interfere. There is seldom conict between
managers, but when there is, Su will provide advice and guidance. Managers, both at HH and
AS, say that they are inspired by Su and have a clear understanding of her mission and share
it. As part of her leadership role, Su also enjoys some aspects of organizing, particularly when
fundraising events for AS are needed and meetings have to be arranged with governments
and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). She usually represents the businesses at such
meetings and conferences.
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To help begin the project to make and sell solar power systems, Su appointed David, who,
before asking to work on the AS project, worked in HH’s marketing department. He is an
Afghan. She also appointed Salima, also an Afghan, who has experience with a large
manufacturing business as a production director. Two more senior managers will be needed,
and Su needs to decide between selecting experienced HH managers or promoting junior
employees from within HH.
Salima does not want to outsource the main production facility of the solar power systems
but does wish to outsource the production of certain components. Ideally, this would be in
nearby countries.
An important decision to be made is the location of the main production facility for the solar
power systems. Su is considering two locations, as shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Location factors of the two countries Su is considering for the main production
Country A Country B
Nature of the economy Developed economy Developing economy
Unemployment Low but rising High
Skills level High Shortage of skills
Government assistance Limited, free market
Encourages investment
from overseas with grants
Local wage costs High Low
Currency Stable Falling
Facilities New facilities would be
required, high rents
Suitable facilities available at
a low rent
Transport links to
Complex Straightforward
Political environment Stable, but election may lead
to a change in government
One party state
International trade Part of a major trading
No major trading
David believes that commercial marketing would have more of an impact than social marketing
because he sees the solar power systems as being product orientated rather than market
orientated. Customers would need to know not only about the solar power systems and the
benets they will bring to households but also the means to provide nance to buy them.
However, David is unsure about which pricing and promotion methods would be appropriate
for the solar power systems. Customers may not have much money to spend and may have
other priorities.
Distribution will also be a problem, as the likely customers will be in remote locations with poor
infrastructure. David is investigating the possibility of using local agents and local transport
businesses to provide the link with customers.
Turn over
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Su had already decided that most of the nance for the production facilities would come
from share capital provided by herself and loans from HH. She wondered whether other
stakeholders in HH, both internal and external, might want to support the project through some
kind of nancial assistance. The micronance to ASs customers would be under completely
separate arrangements with AK Bank or other micronance providers.
Su prepared a six-monthly cash-ow forecast for the rst three years of operation.
Table 2: Six-monthly cash-ow forecast for AS for the rst three years of operation
(gures in $000s)
2018 2019 2020 2021
First half Second
First half Second
First half
0 30
25 20 5
Su’s share
Loans from
0 20 80 120 120 160
200 50 25 25 10 10
Sales costs
0 15 40 60 60 70
Other costs
20 10 10 20 30 40
25 20 5
15 55
Su is aware that the project carries signicant risks. Afghanistan is emerging from a long
and damaging war, and in some parts of the country it remains politically unstable. Not all
areas of the country are peaceful. International forces remain in the country to help rebuild its
infrastructure and help the Afghan government restore peace and reinforce democracy.
The management of AS need to make the decisions on production and distribution as soon as
possible to get the project into action. Su is also aware that she may have to create a plan to
help out when things go wrong and to prepare for possible changes in the external environment.
AS will have to carry out very careful marketing planning and human resource planning, as well
as ensure it is prepared for uncertainties.
Companies, products, or individuals named in this case study are ctitious and any similarities with
actual entities are purely coincidental.
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