These women learned to bake and market donuts from another woman through Sharing the Gift. (Malawi)
“How do we make our SIA programs self-sufficient?” This question has long been a topic of conversation among the SIA Board of Directors. Del Anderson was very insistent that we create partnerships that empower so that there is lasting change in a community.
In December 2006, we considered the option of turning our SIA Small Business Fund (SBF) grants into micro-loans, which would help perpetuate the program. However, we discovered that there were several major drawbacks to loans, including the cost of administering the loans and transferring the money and the inability to reach rural populations. Instead, the SIA Board came up with a concept called Sharing the Gift.
Sharing the Gift is a “pay it forward” program. Our training manual, presented to all SBF groups before their receive their first grant introduces the concept this way, “It is a spiritual truth that blessings multiply when they are shared. Also, we are blessed as we bless others. Each business group has received the gift of a grant to begin a small business. How can we share this gift with others?”
How It’s Done
Sharing the Gift of a pig in Uganda.
Sharing the Gift takes many different forms, including:
Tithing a percentage of profits toward future groups
Contributing a piglet or chick for others to begin raising
Contributing seeds for others to start a garden
Training others in new skills
Today, Sharing the Gift has been more successful than we ever could have imagined. Nalu Prossy, SIA SBF Coordinator in Uganda, reported at our conference in July that, “Sharing the Gift has helped create two new business groups, including the purse-making group. It is also informal giving and social help, such as helping to pay for a funeral.” In Malawi, Winkly Mahowe received the gift of a piglet in 2007 and was able to build a new home for his family.
Giving the Gift of Giving
In addition to starting new business groups, Sharing the Gift also empowers the business group members to be givers as well as receivers. It has been found that people receive genuine happiness from giving to others. Perhaps you have noticed how good it feels to be able to help a neighbor or to help others through Spirit in Action. The Small Business Fund and Sharing the Gift enables people who have grown up with very little to have enough to share with others and to be respected for their gifts to neighbors.
Five years later, SIA is proud of the impact of our unique Sharing the Gift program. We have seen that through Sharing the Gift, a SBF grant can go on to help another person, another family, and the community at large. Thank you to all SIA SBF groups that have shared the gift they have received with others in their community!
The Fall/Winter 2011 SIA Newsletter is dedicated to stories of Sharing the Gift! Look for the newsletter in your mailboxes and email inboxes soon!