October 9 Is Uganda Independence Day

Today, Ugandans celebrate their national Independence Day, signifying Uganda’s freedom from British rule. The country became entirely self-governing in 1962. Now, Ugandans celebrate this day as a day of national pride.

Celebrating a Fair Trade Partnership

Our fair trade partnership with a Ugandan entrepreneur shows our commitment to work with developing nations in our production processes. Everything from the design of our Jesus’ Economy T-shirts to prototyping to the production process was done in partnership with a Ugandan company, RWA Group. The fabric is sourced locally in Kampala, Uganda.

In addition, John Nyarwa, the owner of RWA Group, trains and employs young people within his community. Uganda has historically struggled with unemployment - the unemployment rate for youth ages 15 - 23 is more than 80 percent. It is efforts like John’s that break this cycle by creating jobs where they are most needed.

Today, we celebrate Uganda’s history and journey toward self-governance and greater economic success. We celebrate our partnership with John and RWA Group to work toward making Uganda’s growing economy even stronger.

Do you know where your stuff is made?

With the modernization and industrialization of trade, we are often far removed from the source of our possessions. Instead of buying our clothing, food, or other items from a specific known vendor, we go to a local superstore to purchase items—and the only clue about where it comes from is a small tag that says “Made in _____.”

But do we know anything about the production process, and how that process helps—or harms—those involved?

There Is an Alternative: Fair Trade

Fair trade is a needed alternative to shopping at superstores, whether online or in person. With fair trade, you have much more knowledge about the production process and the origin of the goods.

As we explored recently, fair trade improves the global economy; helps alleviate poverty; teaches us about other cultures; is environmentally friendly; and brings people together.

Unfortunately, the outsourced items that most superstores carry do not share the same qualities. Take clothing, for example—in countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China, child labor, unhealthy working conditions, sexual abuse and discrimination, and underpayment are commonplace within the textile industry.

The Benefits of Sourcing Directly 

These negative practices perpetuate poverty. This is why, at Jesus’ Economy, we sell products from groups that represent positive economic growth. The goods in our fair trade store come from five main sources—from single artisans we work with directly; organizations we parter with that work with artisans; people receiving Jesus’ Economy microloans; cooperatives of artisans; and small business entrepreneurs.

Buying goods from organizations and cooperatives representing artisans benefits the community at large. Buying goods directly from the artisans empowers individuals to expand their business. As their business grows, these artisans are able to employ more individuals, resulting in a ripple effect of positive economic change within the community.

Furthermore, we have fair trade standards we uphold in all of our trade relationships. We require that all our vendors pay fairly according to standard market values in their region. We require safe and healthy working conditions, sustainability, and transparency in practice. We make sure that these businesses do not discriminate in any way, do not tolerate workplace abuse, and do not employ children.

All of our direct trade entrepreneurs must take a fair trade survey in addition to sending us photographs of the working conditions. We even make sure that the companies our artisans get their supplies from are compliant with basic fair trade and environmental sustainability standards.

Making a Difference through Fair Trade

Our plans for our microloan program represent the difference that buying fair trade can make. It can transform real people’s lives. Imagine going from struggling to support your family to gaining marketable skills and growing a business—with support every step of the way.

By shopping fair trade, you can not only know where your goods are coming from, you can know that you are helping provide someone with a better quality of life. That’s why we believe choosing fair trade is an important step forward toward a better world.

When our CEO, John D. Barry, traveled to Bihar, India, he met women who inspired him to start our empowering women program

The women he met were resourceful, strong, spirited, joyful, and full of hope. He witnessed their hope through trials and wanted to do something to empower them even further. Women in Bihar spend their days working hard to provide for their families but when the day comes to a close, it's still not enough. 

They walk miles to get to the nearest water well for clean water and by the time they get back home, there's barely enough time left in the day to purchase what little produce they can afford, make meals with rationing in mind, wash clothing by hand, and take care of their children. And yet, they keep going. Day after day. And still they find ways to smile. They have learned how to be content no matter their situation. 

One woman spoke to John about her hardships. She said, "I can now afford to keep my kids in school, but keeping food on their plates often feels impossible. I am constantly facing the decision of whether to eat or pay for school supplies or clothing for my children. Will you pray for me and my children?" She could pay for her kids to go to school through her sewing work, which she learned via a non-profit sewing school, but her business needed a boost.

This woman worked hard but still couldn't provide the basic needs for her family. But here she was, thankful that she could keep her kids in school and asking John to pray for her because she believed there was a way. She believed that some day she wouldn't have to constantly worry about meeting their basic needs. She had hope. 

Help us bring hope to more women in Bihar, India by donating to our empowering women program and see a community transformed.  

Any skill has less value if it is not paired with practical application. At Jesus’ Economy, we recognize this, and we work to put practicality into action as we alleviate poverty.

As part of our Renew Bihar, India project, we are raising funds to train women in tailoring and business so they will become equipped to more successfully run their own businesses. This is part of the empowering women program.

A trainer will teach 40 women how to expand their business in a one-week training session on product development, employee management, accounting, and business ethics. After that training is complete, another trainer will offer two weeks of hands-on product development training and further business ethics. The product development trainer will then be available for the following 10 weeks to offer free consulting to the women.

A Platform for International Business Success

These business skills will need practical application. This will come as a platform for business in a western market. Rather than teach the women of Bihar useful skills and then step out of the picture, Jesus’ Economy is dedicated to working alongside them and helping their businesses flourish.

After the training, the women will be eligible for a microloan from Jesus’ Economy to purchase supplies for their expanding businesses. The microloan fund will cover up to 20 women, anticipating that only 50 percent of the women in the program will also choose to receive the microloan. A microloan from Jesus’ Economy will help a woman purchase supplies for her expanding business.

After all the women—not just the ones who choose the microloan—are trained and have a year to create products, Jesus’ Economy will purchase the goods and sell them in our online fair trade shop. The fair trade shop will provide a large customer base for these businesses, and having these products in one market will increase the buying power of the customer base. We will provide a western market connection, and their businesses will continue to grow. The growth of businesses means more jobs, and more jobs means more connections. Combining business training with e commerce creates a cycle of success and empowerment rather than one of poverty and hardship.

Jesus’ Economy is changing the economic paradigm by becoming the guaranteed buyer of the products and selling them online. The women will have moved from being tailors and seamstresses to running a full company that sells products internationally. Bringing business training and e commerce together to alleviate poverty.  

Jesus’ Economy has a heart for alleviating poverty through fair trade. Our empowering women program will help women in Bihar, India financially support their families and break the cycle of poverty. Join us in the movement!

 

Join us in our endeavor to help women become independent and build strong businesses by donating to our microloan fund

Part of our empowering women program in Bihar, India is offering microloans to the women who've completed our business training program. 

You might ask yourself, why microloans? Why not just give the women the money for their business straight up and walk away without expecting anything back? 

What our Microloans do

We offer microloans because it helps someone's business become self-sustaining rather quickly. It also gives the business owner the pride that their business is their own and a product of their hard work; as they'll have to eventually pay back their loan. They'll retain a sense of accomplishment. We don't offer a handout; we offer to help women grow their businesses.

Not all the women who've completed our business training program will accept the microloan from Jesus' Economy, but the ones who do will receive up to $500 and have the funds they need to purchase supplies or equipment for their growing business. (And $500 goes a long way in Bihar, India.)

Our microloans are different than typical. We don't just offer a loan, we create economic opportunity. We buy products from the women and sell them on a larger scale than just the local impoverished economy. (This also helps the women repay the loan quickly.)

The women we work with will sell locally and Jesus' Economy will buy some of their products at a fair price and sell them in our fair trade store internationally. This opens up their business to a whole new market, increasing their customer base and helping lift the entire community out of poverty. The commerce isn't limited to their community.

With Jesus' Economy, women are able to create jobs for other people as their business scales. The local economy is renewed with the help of the global marketplace. We connect artisans to global commerce. It's microfinance meets e-commerce.

How the Microloan Process Works: Infographic

We've developed a microloan model and process which is covered in the infographic below. 

 

Join us in our endeavor to help women become independent and build strong businesses by donating to our microloan fund

So why should we empower women halfway across the world in Northern India? Why should we care? Why not on our own soil?

The Why

We started the empowering women program in Bihar, India, as part of the Renew Bihar, India project because women were having to make the choice between feeding their children or putting clothes on their back. Literally. 

Things like paying for the children's school supplies let alone paying for them to attend school or shoes to protect their feet from the rough, hot ground are basic needs that aren't even within grasp sometimes.

As parents in the U.S., thinking about having to make these kinds of decisions for our families eats away at us. As mothers, the thought of sending our little ones outside with no shoes covering their precious little toes breaks our hearts. The fact that our kids don't go to bed hungry every night suddenly feels like the greatest luxury we've ever experienced. 

Poverty and a "difficult life" don't seem to come anywhere near describing what these women face on a day to day basis. Sometimes we think we know what poverty means, how it feels to be living below the poverty line, but do we really? 

The Numbers

In 2011, the population of Bihar was 104 million. That's the population of Germany, Austria, and Belgium combined plus 3 million people; all living in an area about the size of Maine. Of those people, about 69 percent (2005 data, most recent) are living below the multidimensional poverty line (which considers education, health, and living standards). Compared to the U.S., about 13 percent (2015 data) of the country lives below the poverty line. (And in Bihar, poverty itself means something completely different; it means lack of access to clean water, for example.)

And it's not like the U.S. where one could "essentially" pull themselves up "by their boot straps" and climb the income ladder making it out of poverty and into middle class or higher. The social castes in India make that near impossible. Add to that the illiteracy rate of 36 percent (2011 data) in Bihar. The illiteracy rate in the United States is 14 percent (2013 data). How far can you get in society and in providing for your family if you and no one in your family can read? (This is why our church planters also offer literacy training programs.)

On top of this, Bihar, India, isn't exactly vying for the top spot in gender equality. Women aren't seen as equal to men; instead, they're seen as not having much value at all. There's an index that has been developed to measure gender equality in different countries and states. It's based on factors like female income and positions held particularly in government and other decision-making positions by women. Bihar's gender empowerment measure is .379. The U.S. is .762. 

For all these reasons and so much more, this is why our empowering women program in Bihar, India, is so needed. This is why we created it and why we desire to see it succeed and thrive for years to come. We want to see those numbers change for the better and for women to feel empowered in their businesses and as mothers. 

We want to see a generation of women rise up, become empowered, and teach the next generation of women how to be empowered. 

Join us in empowering women in Bihar, India and providing a better life for these women and their families. 

Bihar, India is a state in extreme poverty. Families are forced into a repeated cycle of poverty in which their basic needs are not met. These families are suffering, but we are doing something about it.

We are taking an already existing program in Bihar to a new level. The current program teaches women tailoring and seamstress skills. Jesus' Economy is adding a new, innovative business training program. With this program, we will create sustainable jobs for the impoverished.

This is Jesus’ Economy’s Empowering Women Program.

The Inspiration behind Our Program

The day Jesus’ Economy decided to launch the program is a day CEO John D. Barry will never forget. A woman placed her hands in his and wept. She said, “I can now afford to keep my kids in school, but keeping food on their plates often feels impossible. I am constantly facing the decision of whether to eat or pay for school supplies or clothing for my children. Will you pray for me and my children?" She could pay for her kids to go to school through her sewing work, which she learned via a non-profit sewing school, but her business needed a boost.

Women like this are ready to work hard to offer their children a better life; they just need the opportunity. Together, we can give them this chance for a hopeful future. Jesus’ Economy is offering graduates of the sewing program the chance to learn how to make products for a western market—as well as learn business basics and ethical business practices.

Our partner in Bihar has already taught women how to sew, but they need the additional business skills to become successful and sustainable.

Our Business Training Program

Our business training program will teach 40 women how to expand their businesses. The training has two phases. First, a trainer will come in and offer a one-week training session on product development, employee management, handling accounts, and running an ethical, fair trade business.

The second phase involves hands-on product development training. This will be a two-week session that guides the women through their own product development cycle and further business ethics training. This trainer will be available for an additional 10 weeks for free consulting to the women. By the end of the training, the women will be equipped to sell high-quality products locally and on the western market. They will have moved from tailors to successful international businesswomen.

After the training, the women will be eligible for a microloan from Jesus’ Economy to purchase supplies for their expanding business. Jesus' Economy also changes the economic paradigm by becoming the guaranteed buyer of the products the women are creating. Jesus' Economy will sell these products in our fair trade shop.

We need a total of $11,000 to launch this program, and we currently have raised $4,385

Your donation today renews the lives of impoverished women and kids. The Empowering Women Program is part of the Renew Bihar, India project.

By partnering with us, you can empower a woman in Bihar, India to lift her family out of poverty. Each female entrepreneur will be able to provide a sustainable income for her entire family.

 

Jesus' Economy is an all-volunteer organization. We need people like you to join us in creating jobs, planting churches, and meeting basic needs. Joining our team is an incredible way to gain experience. We invest seriously in the people who volunteer with us and help them accomplish their life and career goals.

Our volunteer staff and interns typically work four to eight hours per week. Our team works entirely remotely, making it easy to join. From right behind your computer, you can be part of a movement of talented people creating a better world.

My Story of Volunteering with Jesus' Economy

I can tell you first hand how wonderful it is to work with a team like the one at Jesus’ Economy. I joined in 2014 as an intern in writing and editorial. I was 18, and pretty nervous to begin the internship, though I had confidence in God’s direction. I was worried that I was too young, too inexperienced, and would not be able to keep up. CEO John Barry and his wife, Kalene, were so excited to bring me on board and mentor me as I grew in my gifts and followed where God was leading me. They were not afraid to help me start from the bottom, and continue to have great patience with me along the way. Learning is often uncomfortable, but they have made it easier in the way they handle it.

It has been more than three years, my position has been promoted to Apprentice in Writing and Editorial, and I am constantly amazed at how far I’ve come. Working with Jesus’ Economy has blessed me with an incredible educational platform in which I can try, fail, and improve. As a result of John’s mentorship and direction, I have learned and am learning new skills daily, constantly pushing myself beyond my comfort zones.

God led me here—and believe me, that’s a crazy story of its own—and he continues to lead me within this volunteer position. The ultimate goal for believers is to bring glory to God, and it is special to be a part of a team so focused on doing just that. Everyone here is passionate about the mission of Jesus’ Economy, which is a dedication to creating jobs, planting churches, and meeting the basic needs of people around the world. We’re all excited about bringing glory to God  through that mission.

Get involved!

Open Non-Profit Volunteer Staff Positions

Open Non-Profit Internships and Apprenticeships

Joining our team is a great way to gain professional experience while building connections. We invest in the people who work with us and are serious about helping them accomplish their life and career goals. Contact us today at info@jesuseconomy.org.

 

  

On today's Live Your Belief Podcast, Kalene Barry, Chief Projects Officer for Jesus' Economy talks with Victor Momoh, founder of the Sierra Leone branch of Global Missions Africa. His ministry goal is to bring the truth of Jesus to a predominantly Muslim nation and to unleash Africa's potential through the work of the Gospel. Find out how Victor and his team are doing this work. Let the Spirit bless you through their story. Listen below.  

Featuring Victor Momoh, Administer at Global Missions Africa: Sierra Leone

About Global Missions Africa

Global Missions Africa wants to ensure that Africa is for Jesus. Their pan-African missional efforts aim to reclaim Africa as an inheritance of God's purpose until the Word reaches every nation on the continent. They are currently working in Sierra Leone, Ghana, South Africa, and Madagascar -- ministering the Word, planting churches, training pastors, meeting basic needs, and providing entrepreneurship opportunities. To find out how you can support this great effort, write to Victor at globalmissionsafricasierraleone[at]gmail[dot]com.  

Or by mail, write to:
Global Missions Africa, Sierra Leone
7 New Signal Hill Road, Congo Cross
Freetown
Sierra Leone 

 

Like our podcasts and blog posts? Never miss a post: Subscribe.  

You bought those beautiful aluminum and glass earrings and those adorable daisy clips from Jesus' Economy and 2nd Story Goods, and it has made a difference.

Anite, pictured below with her daughter, is the creator of the daisy clips and other daisy art. Through the sale of her daisies, Anite has been able to add new concrete construction [pictured] onto their thatch house. The new construction is taller, which is better for the flood season, and features a brand new bathroom. Without Anite's hard work and your support, this would not have been possible for her family.  

Anite and her daughter.  

Ginny contributes her talents to the group of women who make earrings in Jubilee. Through the profits from the sale of the earrings, she and her husband [pictured below with their youngest child] have been able to build a new home. Their home [pictured] is about five times the size of the tin home they used to have and is made of concrete, as opposed to mud or scraps of tin.

 

2nd Story Goods is making a difference in Jubilee. Jesus' Economy is proud to partner with them to accomplish this work. Find out more about 2nd Story Goods and shop online to support more artisans in Jubilee. 

Like our blog posts? Never miss a post: Subscribe