One of the latest books I've read is one that my son gave to me, that he brought home from Patrick Henry College a few semesters ago. It's a small book with a phenomenally huge idea that works! It's Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing by Chris Horst and Peter Greer of HOPE International.
No national government can financially sustain the cost burden of providing for its citizens. Ukraine is an example of that. With a desire to help, a small team of Americans reached out traditionally to poverty stricken Ukraine with the following results: "Your helping is actually hurting us..." "...can you restore dignity...?" "They were still doing for others instead of walking with them." Thus, the novel idea of using micro-finance began with the people of Ukraine "...now gaining confidence in their God-given ability... who is the source of dignity?...they are the creation of God...they are made in His image." (Hope International History)
Quotes from the book:
"...work comes from God-and is therefore a gift. Work was assigned to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, before the fall. The mandate to steward the earth and to bear the imago dei by exercising dominion throughout the created order means that in spite of sin, work is an essential and inherent part of what it means to be human." (pix)
"theologian Klaus Issler estimates that Jesus spent six times as many years working as a carpenter as he did in his public ministry." (px)
"As Chris Horst and Peter Greer describe in this volume, entrepreneurship is often difficult because it involves personal risk, new territory, and typically trial and error. And yet the Christian entrepreneur can be guided not only by life experience but also by faith. Entrepreneurs who live by faith an put into practice the reality many Christian colleges today teach: that there is no sacred-secular divide and that Sunday morning faith is no different than that which sustains one's 40-hour workweek." (px)
"Moreover, the authors explain how entrepreneurial capitalism is the long-term hope of the poor-and, therefore, of us all." (px)
"Where there is an abundance of entrepreneurship, employment rises-and human benefits extend beyond the provision of material goods and services alone." (p9)
"Michael Novak summarizes, 'How can we quickly discern the health of a nation? It's easy: Look at how many small businesses were created in the last year. If the number is high, the society is typically on the rise. If it's low, we know the nation is headed for trouble. Entrepreneurship reflects what is happening in the culture." (p10)
"Freer markets and higher levels of meaningful employment translates to higher levels of life satisfaction." (p10)
"'Capitalism and economic freedom promote peace,' writes Professor Erich Weede." (p11)
"The starkest proof of Weede's findings is in places where two opposing strategies existed side by side: for example, the not-so-distant disparities between East Germany and West Germany." (p11)
"'If countries fail at creating jobs,' says Clifton, 'their societies will fall apart. Countries, and more specifically cities, will experience suffering, instability, chaos, and eventually revolution.'" (p12-13)
"Charity is at its best when it complements the private sector, when it temporarily assists those who are unable to participate in productive employment and take care of themselves, and their families." (p13)
"And certainly, possessions alone do not produce happiness. But prosperity directly influences mental stability...Rates of depression, peace, and happiness are key metrics underscoring an important point: good jobs matter-a lot...John Perkins, a heroic civil rights activist, pastor, and contemporary of Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, 'Jobs are the world's best social service program.'" (p13-14)
"By overwhelming margins, free markets have enabled more people to escape poverty than any other economic system in the world." (p20)
"After their separation from God in Genesis, humans are told the consequences of sin will permeate their daily work: 'Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.' (Genesis 3:17b) Since that time, struggle has become a primary element of our existence. Every day can feel like near-purposeless labor." (p53)
"Christian essayist Dorothy Sayers describes work 'not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God.'
She writes, 'It should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and that man, made in God's image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.'" (p18-19)
"Create-sell-invest-give: this is the consistent cycle of any flourishing entrepreneur. And when entrepreneurs flourish, people and places flourish." (p58)
In Nicaragua "one group received $145. A second received $145 plus vocational training. Though the first group was better off than it had been without the money, the second group was assisted dramatically." (p67-68)
"In the Middle Ages, montes pitatius were charities similar to urban food banks, created as an alternative to loan sharks. These charities provided low-interest loans to poor families. Started by Franciscans, they became widespread throughout Europe.
Even Pope Julius II gave an edict endorsing montes pietatius. Saint Nicholas generously provided a poor man dowries for this three daughters, gold coins in three purses. The symbol of gold coins in three purses became the symbol of pawn shops and fit with his title of patron saint.
In the 1300's, people in poverty met caring friars when they entered the doors of pawn shops. The shops existed to help the poor get back on their feet, and those friars had their best interests in mind. Today, often the opposite is true. Over time, pawn shop owners lost sight of their identity. Created for good, pawn shops have drifted away from their purpose-instead of caring for the needy, they have become an instrument to often prey on individuals or families in distress.
Modern-day social entrepreneurs should hold the story of pawn shops closely. It is easy for entrepreneurs to lose sight of the problems they seek to solve and the mission they set out to accomplish." (p68-69)
Many personal stories abound in this book. One of the dramatic stories is told in this video from Rising Tide Capital.
Another dramatic story from Rwanda begins with a commitment of 20 women, victims of the genocide, to each save 20 cents a week. They invested their money in free market abilities which resulted, ten years later, in investing "$20,000 to buy a truck to transport their product (flour) to schools across Rwanda. Through their business, all 20 women paid for their children to graduate from university; the one adult child who did not go to university is the truck driver for the business.
When I visited Rwanda a few months ago, I got to see this truck and hear how proud they were of the impact of their group. They are now moving into real estate and are looking to build 20 modern houses...Proudly they gave me a tour of the church they were building..." (p70-71)