Monday, April 18, 2016

Cheering for the little guy

Who doesn't like cheering for the little guy to win?  I ran across a great video recently called "Battle at Kruger," a national park in South Africa, where a baby buffalo is grabbed by some lions, the buffalo abandon the baby, and then they organize themselves and come back.  Watch it here if you have a few minutes and want to be inspired:   

 Battle at Kruger

What does this have to do with Discipling Marketplace Leaders?  I'm glad you asked.  :)

Of the four strategic activities that we are involved in with business people through Discipling Marketplace Leaders (training, mentoring, advocacy, and access to capital), advocacy is the most difficult one for people to understand.  The other three activities are simple as they seek to build and develop one person's business internally through training, mentoring, and access to capital. If you are familiar with SWOT analysis, these three activities address both the strengths and weaknesses of a business.

But what about external pressures to a business, outside of its control?  That is where advocacy comes in.  Advocacy looks at the other part of the SWOT analysis, specifically the opportunities and threats.  Too often small business owners feel like the baby buffalo - so many predators, unable to fight on their own.  Advocacy is trying get the buffaloes back together and organized to go after the big scary predators.  We tend to describe the way advocacy works in the following fish picture and encourage all our Marketplace Ministers to get together in cooperatives to address both the opportunities and barriers that exist externally to their business.  So far we have four cooperatives that have formed in four different cities in Western Kenya for this purpose.
Small fish organizing to be able to defend themselves and take on some bigger fish together.
Here is short (one-minute) fun video which helps drive home the point:

 It's Smarter to Travel in Groups

I'm reminded that in the work of Discipling Marketplace Leaders our ultimate goal is to see business people do their work as unto the Lord and to see Him lifted up in the Marketplace.  The choice of DML is to do that through the church, which can be both an opportunity for businesses to do this well, but it can also be a threat.  But when we look out for each other, when we affirm the work, the life, the value of each person, and when we pull together rather than pull apart, we can make a significant difference.  The Church is a key umbrella to unifying the vision and calling of Christian men and women in business.

Amartya Sen, a Nobel-prize winning economist, states that, “Economic growth cannot be sensibly treated as an end in itself.  Development has to be more concerned with enhancing the lives we lead and the freedoms we enjoy.”  Sen states that what matters is “not the things a person has – or the feelings these provide – but what a person is, or can be, and does, or can do."  Business development, while important, is not simply about increasing income or creating jobs.  It is about enhancing lives, enjoying freedoms, and affirming what people can do.  The Church can and should play a significant role in helping people understand this and find their place in it.  If a secular economist who claims to be an atheist can see the need for affirmation of calling and the role of economics beyond numbers, certainly we as the church can see that need as well.  Can I hear an "amen?"