Showing posts from June, 2009

Ten Year Anniversaries

Ten years ago, I interviewed for my job at Bud's Warehouse and Belay Enterprises . I called my wife on the way home to tell her how excited I was about the interview. She didn't sound happy. The doctor had just sent her to the hospital because she was having serious pregnancy complications with our twins. The next week was a blur of ups and downs. My wife spent four days on bed rest. The Belay board offered the job. The next day the twins were born six weeks early. The following 24 hours were frightening as the doctors worked to stabilize my wife's health. Thankfully, she recovered in the midst of hundreds of prayers. And ten years later, I have two healthy, if slightly over-energetic boys who are celebrating a big birthday. In the midst of it all I learned a profound life lesson. I like to be in control. It is why I have gravitated towards an entrepreneurial career. But in entrepreneurship and in life, you will never ultimately be in control. And if you work in an urban

Kiva Introduces Domestic Initiative

During the last few years, I have watched in fascination as innovative Kiva, the first peer-to-peer international micro lending organization has blossomed into a social networking phenomenon. Three years ago, I even doodled with a business plan that would create a peer-to-peer lending site for both domestic and international faith ventures. But the obstacles seemed too great when you focus on such a specific niche. And besides Kiva was already doing such a great job helping faith organizations even though it was a secular nonprofit. Last week, I was excited to hear that Kiva had introduced a domestic initiative. You can now visit and view domestic entrepreneurs from the Opportunity Fund and Accion . Like with the international lending program, interested investors build a portfolio from a selection of active entrepreneurs needing financial support. Funds are invested in the businesses that the individual selects. When the entrepreneur repays the loan, the investo

Faulu Kenya: A Small World

Ken Wathome, the chairman of Faulu Kenya , spoke at a luncheon I attended last week. The meeting became an unexpected “small world” experience for me. A few years ago, my church partnered with Pastor Francis of Eldoret, Kenya, to start a small microenterprise project through his community church and orphanage. I wrote about his visit to Bud’s Warehouse last summer . When the project started, Cathy Cutrell, who took the lead on Centennial Covenant Church’s efforts, enrolled in the distance learning economic development program of Chalmers Center . She became our resident expert on best practices in Christian international economic development. One of the organizations she learned about was Faulu. She became the driving force for a partnership between our start-up organization and Faulu in the area of business training. So last week, I was invited to this luncheon not knowing was the guest speaker. After being introduced as the chairman of Faulu and then sharing some o

Modern Indentured Employment

I have recently blogged about how the economy is making our job of graduating program participants into the real work world more difficult. In the last few weeks, we have stumbled upon some employment situations that are in some ways modern versions of indentured slavery. Getting a job as an ex-offender has always been a difficult situation. When you add an extremely difficult economy, it becomes even harder for an individual rebuilding a life to find someone willing to hire them. When a job opportunity surfaces, it is a happy day and everyone works diligently to win over the employer. So imagine our joy when one of our program participants found a wonderful opportunity as an office manager for a distribution company. The job paid very well. The individual underwent an extensive interview process and was ecstatic when hired. But something didn’t sound quite right. The person was promised that the role did not include outside sales. But our program participant was guaran