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What is Christ-centered Microenterprise Development?

Much of the world faces an ongoing jobs crisis, with significant unemployment and underemployment limiting productive capacity and contributing to elevated national poverty levels. Many who wish to work are denied the opportunity, instead confronting the stress and shame of being unable to provide for their families.

At HOPE, we believe that work is God’s primary plan for provision. We’ve found that most who live in poverty are eager to generate income and employ their God-given skills to add value to their communities. Unemployment robs individuals of that opportunity, but Christ-centered microenterprise development restores it by helping men and women create jobs for themselves and others in their community. HOPE International’s network provides a variety of services and resources across 17 countries to address the pervasive employment gap faced by the world’s poor.

Spiritual Integration

At HOPE, our efforts to love and serve the poor are rooted in our allegiance to our Lord and Savior and our desire to see His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Believing that true transformation can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ, HOPE engages in culturally appropriate evangelism and discipleship in each of the countries in which we work. HOPE is committed to hiring Christian staff and equipping them to be disciple makers in their communities, and we seek to partner with local churches in each of our areas of operation to provide clients with ongoing discipleship and support.

Training

While HOPE’s clients are intelligent and resourceful, many have had limited opportunities for formal financial or business education. Biblically based business training helps clients understand the value of saving and record-keeping, giving to church and community, and running an ethical business. Topics of training include personal finances, preventive health, and business management. Loan clients also receive a clear explanation of interest rates and other terms they need to understand to make informed borrowing decisions.

Savings

Savings can help those in poverty start a business, send children to school, or invest in future goals. But first and most fundamentally, savings provide a safety net. Without this sum of money to fall back on, an illness, emergency, or temporary drop in income can quickly become a crisis. HOPE offers a variety of savings services, from church-based savings and credit associations—groups of men and women who pool their resources to purchase assets, make loans to one another, and support each other in the endeavor—to facilitated savings accounts in which loan clients have the opportunity to safely deposit their savings in a local bank or HOPE-network branch office.

Small Loans

HOPE also invests in the dreams of our clients through small business loans of as little as $100. Often our clients have the ideas and potential to start or expand a business but simply lack the funds. A lump sum of capital can help clients run their businesses more efficiently or invest in productive assets, creating sustainable sources of income for one or more families. Clients are then freed to invest in what matters to them: better nutrition, education for their children, home improvements, or charitable giving.

Some programs in HOPE’s network also provide small and medium enterprise (SME) loans, larger sums of capital that support business growth beyond the micro- level. These loans stimulate the development of a middle class by encouraging innovation and creating jobs in contexts of pervasive unemployment or underemployment.