The search for sustainability

From jam-making to knitting to computer training, community leaders in Chile have worked together to create income-generating projects that significantly impact the lives of more than 500 Mapuche Indians. (Image, caption courtesy Bright Hope)

From jam-making to knitting to computer training,
community leaders in Chile have worked together to create
income-generating projects that significantly impact
the lives of more than 500 Mapuche Indians.
(Image, caption courtesy Bright Hope)

International (MNN) — If business or sustainability is your thing, there’s a place for you in missions.

“I hope business leaders and entrepreneurs would listen up very closely because this is something that is really challenging us at Bright Hope,” says CH Dyer, President and CEO of Bright Hope International.

“We need experts and people to get involved and join in these discussions.”

Bright Hope brings the Gospel and Christ’s love to people living on less than $1.00 a day. Using a three-pronged strategy, the ministry works with impoverished communities and local churches in nine nations. For each project, local ministries implement the strategy while Bright Hope provides the funding needed to sustain it.

Dyer says they’re looking for ways to make their work more sustainable.

“We’re really trying to whittle away the need for outside money for these programs [so] that they become, in our words, sustainable,” he explains. “We think that’s partly business creation, and also philanthropic within that community.”

Mathare Valley is one of the oldest, biggest, and worst slums in Nairobi, Kenya.  (Image, caption courtesy Bright Hope)

Mathare Valley is one of the oldest, biggest, and worst slums in Nairobi, Kenya.
(Image, caption courtesy Bright Hope)

To illustrate his point, Dyer cites Bright Hope’s work in Nairobi and India. In Mathare Valley, Nairobi, Bright Hope and the local churches worked together with a church in the U.S. to start a bus transportation business.

“That is creating a cash flow that is covering some of the school teachers’ programs,” explains Dyer.

In India, Bright Hope will soon be gathering Indian business owners together to discuss philanthropy. Later in the year, they will gather again to discuss how their businesses can come alongside the work of local churches.

“These conversations are exciting because we see real businesses starting to take on and explore opportunities for them to be carrying on the work in and around their own community,” says Dyer.

So far, Bright Hope has “closed out” their work in two communities, meaning the churches have found ways to completely support their projects without outside funding.

“When we start saying, ‘Hey, we want to help you find the resources to continue within your community,’ it changes the conversation,” Dyer says. “It changes the whole ownership.”

Bright Hope would like to repeat this process in each of their 50 community locations throughout the world, so that none of the ministry projects are dependent on funding from the West.

“We’re just kind of putting out a call and saying, ‘We’re not experts in this, but we’d like to learn’ — from people who are passionate to build sustainable efforts and the back-end of development,” Dyer adds.

Can you help? Click here to e-mail Dyer, or you can reach him at Bright Hope’s main office. Find Bright Hope’s contact information here.