One of the true pleasures I’ve experienced on our trip to the Mathare Valley has been the opportunity to work with and learn about the many ways God is using Missions of Hope to bless and bring hope to the community. As a business owner myself, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to spend a day learning about their Business Development Services arm of the organization.
The physical poverty that I have witnessed has broken my heart and the cycle of poverty seems that much more desperate in that there are so few jobs to be had and so few opportunities for families more than willing to work to pull themselves up and improve their situation. The question Missions of Hope had was, “Why look for a job that’s not there when you can create one instead?”
From that question, a micro-financing strategy was born because, while many in Mathare Valley would love to start a business, the capital to do so simply had not been available. And if there’s no capital, there’s no business!
To break this cycle, Missions of Hope started lending start-up capital to enterprising individuals who would then join a business accountability group in which all members would co-sign on each other’s loans! The groups self-select their own members… people they believe in, trust, and who they know would capitalize on even the smallest of opportunities given to them. After all, if they’re going to be guaranteeing the loans of other people, trust and accountability have to be there. Loans start with as little as $100 – $200 and can be used to start a wide variety of businesses. The most amazing part of this process to me was that only 3% of all loans are ever defaulted on! Businesses where I’m from have nowhere near this success rate!
We were able to accompany a Missions of Hope loan officer who facilitates weekly accountability meetings into the community and meet several dozen business owners. I learned in my training for this trip that, while we may define poverty in America in physical terms like lack of resources, jobs or income, in areas hit hardest by poverty, it is defined in emotional terms as feelings of inferiority, hopelessness or shame. This has broken my heart as I’ve walked the communities to see my brothers and sisters in Christ who feel this way when I know they have infinite value by the one who created them!
In these business owners, however, I saw something drastically different! You could literally see this in their eyes and hear in their voices what these ventures are creating. Even more than income, they are creating pride in accomplishment, hope and confidence. These are the first real steps to breaking a cycle of poverty.
When I asked one business owner what this program had done in her life, she responded… “Where once we were stressed, now we are strengthened!” Praise God!
It was a humbling, heart-warming, encouraging and inspiring day spent alongside these smart, hardworking, powerful individuals who are capitalizing on the blessings they have been given.
To date, 2,000 small businesses have already been started! In each one God has provided hope, value, and opportunity for families one business at a time. People are being empowered to provide for themselves, their families, and their community rather than simply being given relief. It is a better way!
Missions of Hope has plans to help start another 9,000 businesses over the next 4 years. This is a God-sized goal, and they are trusting in God to provide. I have witnessed firsthand what God is doing in the Mathare Valley and know he will continue to provide through his many followers of Jesus.
If he may be calling you, learn how you can help advance the Kingdom at bigdent.org.