Dedicated SBF Coordinator, Dennis Kiprop

Dennis Kiprop, SIA Small Business Fund (SBF) Coordinator in Kenya, has trained and supported 27 micro-enterprise business groups near Eldoret since he started in 2009. We are so blessed to have this enthusiastic, dynamic coordinator volunteer his time to help community members gain new skills and raise themselves out of poverty.

Today, I am reposting this post from 2009, which gives such a good sense of the dedication of our on-the-ground coordinators.

**Congratulations to Dennis and Nancy who got married just three weeks ago!**

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Dennis Kiprop leads a workshopOur new, enthusiastic SIA Small Business Fund coordinator in Kenya, Dennis Kiprop, recently shared his excitement with me about the new businesses he is guiding and training. The first 2 businesses he has coordinated in Eldoret, Kenya have now been in operation for one year – and they continue to flourish – providing the groups with hope for the future and school uniforms for their children.

Now, instead of repaying SIA for the small business grant, the groups are “paying it forward” by giving potato seeds and sharing the knowledge they have gained to a new group, so that they can start another business! The love of SIA continues to spread!

“I am sure by now all the seven groups in Kenya must have learned how to run a small business, utilize the available resources, and serving other people in the community! I know the two groups appreciate the impact and would want others to experience the same.

SIA partners in front of their many tree seedlings

SIA Kenyan partners in front of their many tree seedlings

I realized that environment for learning is multiplied every time a group experiences the process of spending ,producing ,marketing, accounting and reinvesting back their resources, enables them to have a common ground of growing and even sharing the gift becomes a blessing. I am glad that all the groups are continuing and the team spirit “to work hard together to succeed” is still in them and love to share with the community at large.

Dennis continues: “I must honestly say SIA has taught me and everyday I find a new meaning growing, learning oneself, and letting God have his way in me. And before sending any report or updates to SIA, I take time to pray and seek God’s help. It becomes easier, brings joy and feeling his Holy Spirit within me.”

More than Wealth: Justice

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. It is justice.” – Leonardo Boff

One of Spirit in Action’s callings is to create more opportunities for social justice – working towards a world based on equality, solidarity, and human dignity. One project that we have supported is the Manyamula Village Savings and Loans Group (MAVISALO), a community-based organization in Mzimba, Malawi, which helps bring security and credit to this rural community of subsistence farmers.

Since the group started this loan fund, using individual contributions and profits from a poultry project, MAVISALO has made steady progress towards encouraging saving and increasing access to loans for its members.

“The private financial lending institutions and the commercial banks of Malawi were not providing the opportunity to village members to save their money. These institutions provide loans at high interests rates and ask for collaterals, which village members can’t afford.” As the quote at the top implies, MAVISALO is driven to do more than just create wealth among members – they are also creating a system that honors and trusts the village members by allowing even traditionally disadvantaged people to access financial services.

“Today, an institution is born mobilized by the village people themselves and it provides a sound atmosphere that promotes saving culture.” Local leaders have shown interest in supporting the group and using it as a model for others. “This is a great idea indeed to have our own economic institution that helps my people save,” says Group Village Headman, Yesaya Shumba.

Canaan Gondwe, leader of the group of 52 members (20 women and 32 men), has seen a great impact on the community, “Members of MAVISALO are able to smile at the impact the loan project on its members. The impact is not only confined to members but also outsiders as they are served by entrepreneurs who are members. There are youths, widows, HIV people all incorporated in one community institution living together to uplift and empower themselves.

Great job MAVISALO. Keep up the great work!

RELATED POSTS:

The Valley – Where spirit is called into action

Last week I talked about the power of language – saying what you mean and meaning what you say – and this week’s post continues on that theme. We take our name SPIRT in ACTION very seriously and we see the work of our organization as a way engage our spirits in global, good works. This week, a long-time SIA partner from India, Chandra Ezekiel shares a story about the importance of this action for her.

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From Serenity (March-April 2011), a newsletter from CFOI Chennai, India:

Glenn Clark’s most valuable writings are to be our guide in the life of Camps Farthest Out (CFO) campers.   On page 81 in [his book “Fishers of Men”] it is written as follows:

“I once heard, of a philosopher who was discoursing beautifully to some friends upon the joy of the meditative life and the bliss of Nirvana when he was interrupted by cries outside his window of a child who was dieing of cold and exposure.  The philosopher rose quickly, went to the window and shut out the sound.”

“Much as we all need to withdraw occasionally to the mountain top, still more do we need to go down to the valley and save men from suffering and sin.”

What does God expect of us, at the Valley?

In Matt Ch. 25, it is said, “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in – (v.35) – Naked and clothed me, I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came unto me.” (v.36), verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it into one of the least of these my brothers, ye have done it unto me.” (v.40)

While CFO camps take us up to “The Mountain Top” to enjoy the spiritual experience with our Lord, Spirit in Action takes us down to “The Valley” to help the helpless and the deserving.

 

Camily Wedende (Kenya) brings his passion for solar cookers to train women in refugee camps to build and use the cookers.

Camily Wedende (Kenya) brings his passion for solar cookers to his work. He train women in refugee camps to build and use the cookers.

They are the lonely, the depressed, the oppressed, the neglected, the sick, and the weak who need a little bit of our time to be spent with them in prayer and encouragement.  It may go a long way to make them realize that the love of God is there to save them from their situations.

[The spiritual experience] as well as the organization Spirit in Action together go hand in hand to enable the individual to become a complete personality, putting his/her soul, mind and body in balance.

Empowered Partners Plan for SIA Visit

I know the power of language. The words we use affect the way we see the world.

You can be sure that when I talk about Spirit in Action and how we “partner” with people and organizations in Africa and work to “empower” them – I mean it!

Individuals and community-based organizations that receive grants from SIA design and implement every part of their programs to improve their communities. We support them with our time, grant funds, information resources, and by connecting them with other people doing similar projects.

When it came time to plan my month-long “Strengthening SIA” trip to Kenya and Malawi this summer to visit some of our partners, I turned to them and asked what they wanted out of the visit. If you have ever received a grant yourself, maybe you know how nerve-wracking it can be for the funding body to come and check in on how you are doing. Asking our partners and Small Business Fund Coordinators to take charge of the planning shows that we are not there to judge them but to see their projects in action and better understand how SIA might support them in the future.

One of the main events of the trip will be a 4-day workshop with our Small Business Fund Coordinators, the local leaders that help administer our mirco-enterprise grants and train the new business groups. It was coordinators’ idea to have the workshop and so I asked two of them (pictured below), Dennis Kiprop (Kenya) and Jacob Lipandasi (DR Congo), to set the agenda for our time together.

Here is a sample of the very exciting “Successful Meeting Agenda”, which they put together:

Day 2 – Morning Session

Dennis Kiprop and Jacob Lipandasi in Eldoret, Kenya

  • Breakfast
  • Coordinators share experiences, photos, and success stories
  • Tea break
  • SIA staff share how to share reports and pictures with SIA office.
  • Lunch break

Afternoon Session

  • Address challenges facing the coordinators in working with groups through:
    -Prayer
    -Consensus agreement
    -Advice from SIA staff
    -Possible solutions
  • Tea break
  • Fun and Games
  • Free time
  • Watch a video on Community Development projects
  • Dinner
  • Motivational talk from Samuel Teimuge

Now you can understand why I call the dedicated and enthusiastic leaders I work with through SIA our “partners”. It’s not just SIA doing the work but ALL us together in cooperation that makes a difference.

As we all reach out to help others around the world by giving them must-needed small grants, let us keep in mind these empowered individuals and set aside outdated images of poor, helpless people in need of charity.

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