Here is what we know are the human obstacles to their vocational empowerment:
1. They feel, and are continually told by their guardians, that they “owe” their guardians for caring for them. They would feel compelled, or worse forced, to give any economic gain from their vocation back to the guardians.
2. First experiences in handling money pose a risk to foolishly squander if left with no accountability. Even after we’ve built into them they still are young kids.
3. Their high poverty environments set them up to “eat their profit”. After all, when you are hungry, it’s hard not to use your resources to meet that desperate immediate need.
These issues pose a significant risk for the long term success of independent income generating activities for them. So, this is what we are pointing toward; tweaking our entrepreneurial model just a bit.
1. A few kids we are looking to employ within local businesses. We’ve already placed one student (Hilda) in a paying job. Way cool. First time she EVER made money herself. There are a few others who may function best in this scenario as well.
2. The remainder of the kids we plan to organize into business groups of 3-4 students and begin a joint business with them. We’ve had them research business activities they are interested in. Then we had them write beginning business plans that our staff are reviewing with them. From there, we’ll put them into like minded business groups. We would then be able to leverage more capital to begin a larger business with a better platform for sustainability. The kids would be accountable to each other in their “business groups”.
3. MASTERS would actually own each of these businesses and the kids would be the employees. It enables our staff to oversee the start up and growth of the business and continue to teach and empower the kids. Eventually, as our staff deems appropriate, and the kids demonstrate their ability to run the business themselves, we would hand the business over to them to run on their own.
We feel really good about the model. It protects the kids from outside pressures, provides a safeguard for making sound business decisions especially early on, gives them a continued teaching environment and accountability and, yet, empowers them to strive to a level of performance that eventually will result in them owning their own business.
Please keep praying as we determine exactly what these businesses will look like and begin to put details together for each one in the coming months. Much work is yet to be done, but soon we should be able to report what businesses they will be starting. We are excited to have what feels to us like a safe, sound and empowering way to give success to the kids. They are excited about it and, I think feel a bit relieved to not have all the pressure on themselves. Divine Economics! Gotta love it.