Generations of Business Men and Women, Living and Discipling among the Lost
Back in the 1980´s, the Navigators in Africa began making small loans to help African disciples launch businesses that would provide much needed income for their families. Today, there are hundreds of enterprises across the African continent run by business men and women who have been trained by the Navigators in evangelism and discipleship. With more and more “missional enterprises” springing up, Navigator representative Wanjau Nduba (who resources this network), saw an urgent need to have many more trained mentors and coaches who could help these business practitioners stay focused on a triple bottom line of financial sustainability, spiritual transformation, and social impact. This need led to the birth of an initiative called “Venture Villages”.
After 16 months of development, the first Venture Village was launched in Nairobi, Kenya in November of 2016 as a joint initiative with Naventure (the Navigator African business network led by Wanjau), Agora Enterprises (a US based ministry that promotes international entrepreneurial accelerators), and the Global Enterprise Network (the resource team that serves Navigator missional enterprises around the world). The goal is to launch dozens of successful startup missional entrepreneurs around Africa in the next few years.
One essential ingredient in this Venture Village process is to recruit and train successful Christ-centered entrepreneurs as business coaches and mentors who can walk alongside new and existing Navigator business practitioners. These mentors and coaches will empower Navigator entrepreneurs to stay focused on pursuing the triple bottom line that is being used in the Global Enterprise Network (GEN).
In this first Venture Village nine mentors, who were trained in the techniques of Lean Startup and coaching skills, met bi-weekly with nine aspiring entrepreneurs. Prize money was awarded at the end of the three-month course to the three entrepreneurs with the best business ideas. Investors will be reviewing all nine business plans for potential capital investments. The next Venture Village, which will begin at the end of September 2017, will train a new cohort of mentors to work with more new entrepreneurs so over time there will be a growing number of mentors/coaches to serve the ever-increasing number of missional entrepreneurs in Africa.
The operative principle behind training new business mentors/coaches is Ecclesiastes 4:9 - “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” By having trained business mentors/coaches working with new Christ-centered entrepreneurs to pursue a triple bottom line, God will ensure there will be a good return for their labor. This will enable the gospel to flow out of these businesses into communities around the world as business men and women live out their faith daily in the marketplace.
Says Matt, who trained the coaches, “Our passion is developing missional entrepreneurs to become lifetime laborers who can be fruitful in the marketplace where they will spend most their time.” Feel free to contact us if you would like to learn more about how to become an entrepreneurial mentor/coach.
Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Proverbs 24:13
Can sweet, organichoney impact the world for Christ and advance our calling into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost? Is that even possible? Just have a quick conversation with smiling Paul from West Africa, and you will say a resounding “yes!” Paul and his wife, Mary, have an exciting ministry with the farmers of their country. Paul was burdened for the rural poor who had little means of income, including a way to pay for their children´s schooling. In central West Africa, where there are consistent attacks by cattle herdsmen (the remaining active arm of a militant group) on the poor villagers, the possibilities are scarce. As Paul thought and prayed about how to reach these people for Christ and disciple them, he was guided by the philosophy: “Don´t give them fish. Don´t only teach them how to fish. Go fishing with them.” That makes sense to us as Navigators as we walk with people through life, but how could he do this in rural Africa?
One day, after a visit to a beekeeper in Zambia, God gave Paul an idea about beehives. If he could provide beehives to people in the rural villages and let the bees make honey, he could then buy the honey from the people and sell it for a profit. This would create a business that was financially sustainable that could also fund the ministry in the future. If he could organize the villagers into beehive groups, where they could watch over their beehives and be accountable to each other, and if these beehive groups could also double as savings groups that provide a forum for them to save their money, loan it among themselves to start or grow enterprises, and pay their children’s school fees, this would create a business that was having a great social impact. And if he could share stories of Christ in their regular beehive groups, trusting in the Holy Spirit´s work in each heart to bring the person to faith in Him, this business would have a transformational spiritual impact. Thus, the Honey Value Chain Experience was born with grants to Paul from two Navigator sources: the British Navs for the honey processor, and NavPartners Children Mission for the beehives. He began his business under the care of the Africa Navigator Global Enterprise Network (GEN). Paul and Mary serve together in this endeavor as they wrestle through ways to protect the beehives from theft (deciding to give the people the beehives for free), to wrestling through ways to ensure that there is a spiritual generational impact. They carefully watch and pray that the Gospel is shared in a natural way as discipleship is taking place. They have mobilized 233 villagers and are working with them in two groups. Forty-five of these people have either started or are growing their enterprises in West Africa. Five young people are also being discipled and have been trained as apicultural technicians. They have also now trained the six group leaders with Insider skills to be leaders in this transformational ministry. Paul says that the Gospel is shared more frequently now and better understood by the rural people. He and Mary are excited about how God is using sweet, organic honey and His powerful Word to transform lives and advance the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the Nations. His Word is going forth, and it is good!
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103