Empowering women through Business as Mission in Guatemala.
Our journey in orphan care over 14 years has been a fun and interesting one.
We started out as a ministry initially focused on evangelism to orphaned and vulnerable children. Like all missionaries, the heart of all we did was related to our desire to share the “Good News” with those we were called to serve. Over time, as we worked and learned; we saw that in order to properly serve them, we had to meet their physical needs, and as well prepare them for life. Our programs expanded to include educational, vocational programs of computer, woodworking, engineering, and culinary arts classes.
The students were hungry to learn, they enjoyed the classes and did well in them. Yet, one thing we saw time and time again, was students struggled to find decent jobs.
Guatemala, like most less developed countries, has high unemployment, and we found our students continually competing for work from people who were better connected, trained and had more flexibility in their work hours and transportation. That, coupled with the learning curve for children who have spent most of their lives somewhat isolated growing up in an orphanage and lack the family and social support structure that most others have, led us to consider creating employment options for the long term residents of the children’s home we work with.
Our objective was to create a business that tied in with our existing vocational training programs and provided a safe place to work, in a healthy work environment with patient bosses that will help them develop their job skills.
Looking to leverage the skills and gifts that God has given us, we decided to open a coffee shop kiosk with unique, quality products, and flavors for sale that were not readily available on the market. We called it Café Du Monde, based on the café in New Orleans of the same name. We sell Beignets, a French doughnut, scones, muffins and coffee.
It was a long and complicated process, but we finally opened the kiosk in the second half of 2016. We have two fulltime employees, both older women who are single mothers. We have had three girls from the orphanage work at the kiosk for job training, and the results have been positive. One of them was able to transition to another job, and the other two worked for us during their vacation and will continue to do so part time while they are in school.
Right now the business is just barely paying its bills and employee salaries, but we are hopeful that with time, it can become a profitable business that will benefit not just the children from the orphanage, but provide widows and vulnerable women with fair employment in a job, where they can make a good living and support their families.
We believe that business can be a God-given vocation and institution in society with the potential to bring multiple benefits to people, communities and nations. By operating this business as a mission we hope to intentionally leverage the intrinsic power of business to address spiritual needs, hand in hand with social, economic and environmental needs.
For us business as mission is demonstrating what the Kingdom of God is like in the context of business – and as we do so, engaging some of the world’s pressing social, economic, environmental and spiritual issues.
Our desire for this business is that it is profitable and sustainable; a place that furthers the Kingdom of God and His purpose and impact on people and nations; focused on holistic transformation and the multiple bottom lines of economic, social, environmental and spiritual outcomes; concerned about un-reached and un-evangelized peoples; and, that when other businessmen see the principles we are operating on, how we are treating our employees and customers, that they will do the same.
Business as mission is not a new idea. Throughout Church history it has been combined in different ways at different times. We believe that if the global Church were to fully integrate its business goals with the call to take the Gospel to the whole world, if believers were Christian businessmen, not just businessmen who happen to be Christian, if followers of Christ were to integrate Christian principles in their work and business life, it could be a catalyst for bringing God’s Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
Joe Plumber, the editor and chair of the editorial board of BAM, wrote, “Business has the potential to generate wealth through a combination of creativity, risk and work. A profitable and sustainable business is able to create new jobs, drive new innovations and increase resources for society. Business can provide goods and services that are needed in a community and is established on a wide network of relationships. “These activities, products and relationships are integral to business and part of the God-given potential of business to transform society and glorify Him. Through business we can intentionally tackle poverty, increase quality of life, bring positive social change and carry with us the message of eternal life.”
We are still full time missionaries, in service to orphaned, vulnerable and disabled children, yet we see this as an opportunity to use our God-given talents to impact those we serve through this micro-enterprise.
We ask that you keep us in your prayers as carry on in this journey.