Did we do it?

by: November 30, 2015

Hello, this is Nicole again. I wrote an article for the Zonata website a few weeks ago about how my friends and I were planning to turn £5 into £500 in four weeks for MicroLoan, a charity that supports female economic empowerment in two of Africa’s poorest countries, Zambia and Malawi (see https://www.microloanfoundation.org.uk). For the whole article please see https://zonata.co.uk/~zonataco/how-to-turn-5-into-500-in-four-weeks.

did we do it

So firstly, thank you for the positive feedback and encouragement we received in response to that previous blog. I’d like to let you know how we got on now the four-week project has ended.

If you remember, by the end of the first week we’d managed to make a profit of £137. Most of that was achieved by buying ingredients, baking cakes and having a stall outside our local post office on a Saturday morning. That taught us that if we could add value by buying raw materials and making things for sale, the profit margin was good.

Cash Accounting

We’d also pre-sold mince pies for Christmas, although we were a little bit worried whether we would be allowed to recognise those sales. Luckily our teacher read the blog and told us that it was fine. He said that ‘cash accounting’ rules would be applied.

Team Dynamics

During the project we had several discussions between us about how to choose which different items to sell. We wanted to have items that appealed to as many people as possible. We had to compromise in the team about some things, as we didn’t agree on everything. But the main priority was to make items that people would buy, rather than buy things and resell them, as that way the profit margin was so much better.

Where To Sell

The stall outside the post office had worked so well that we thought we’d try that again. One of the other girls spoke to her local post office and they kindly agreed to let us have a stall outside their shop too! That worked brilliantly as we knew what sold best from the previous cake sale, so made more of those and increased the price where we thought we could.

Our group found that these cake sales were much more profitable than school lunchtime selling because there were more people to sell to, and they had more to spend, unlike at school where people have limited money.

Then we managed to get a stall at our school Christmas Fair. For this we couldn’t sell cakes as there was already a cake stall (run by my mum and some of her friends!), so we made all sorts of things including Christmas cards and gift tags, glass tree decorations, key rings and necklaces, soaps, lip balms and scrubs, snow domes and bracelets.


Working out how much to charge was really difficult. We wanted to charge as much as we could without putting people off. It helped to think about how much we would buy them for and by always making sure we were getting a good profit margin.

Sales Skills

It helps if you’re brave! Although it’s quite scary, we found that it made a big difference if we talked to people and attracted them to our stall. So, for example, at the school Christmas fair we tried to have one or two of us in front of our stand, talking to people walking past and encouraging them to come and browse what we had for sale. Then the girls behind the stand always tried to make sure that the person bought several items, not just the first item that met their eye.

When it was quiet near our stall, two of us took a selection of goods around the school, selling to passers-by and to people eating in the dining hall.

Of course how we set out our stall was important, as it was literally a shop window for our stock! People judge the stall from the front and so we wanted the layout to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible, making sure we had everything visible and enticing. 

The Result

So, I guess this is the bit you all have been waiting for, the broadcasting of how much we made…

We made £240 at the second cake sale, and £320 at the Christmas fair which, together with things we sold at school and pre-ordered mince pies meant the grand total of everything that we have made is – drumroll please – £761.42! We’re delighted, and we could not have done it without everyone’s support. Thank you!

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About Author

Nicole goes to The Abbey School in Reading (UK). Her passions in life are animals and dancing. And school of course which is great. She likes many aspects of business but she's planning to be a vet.

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