This past Saturday was Pay it Forward Day, a day to experience the joy of giving and to remind people that love and hope exists in the world. It’s a day to live into the reality, expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, that “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”
With Spirit in Action, every grant is a chance to live this reality. Our Sharing the Gift initiative calls on each grant recipient to continue the ripple of giving. As they receive, so are they called to give. And I find that this is not a foreign concept in the communities where we’re working. They are more used to helping neighbors and large family networks, I think, than your average American or Canadian.
Visiting Uncle Gly’s Computer Shop in Malawi. He has trained and hired an assistant to help him run the shop.
These networks of giving already exist in rural Malawi and in the informal settlements in Kenya. The SIA grant provides the opportunity for these givers to give from the position of being a successful entrepreneur!
Proud to Give
People I met last year were proud to tell me how they had participated in Sharing the Gift after receiving their $150 Small Business Fund grant.
Glyton Chilwe is the proprietor of Uncle Gly’s Computer Shop in the central marketplace of Manyamula Village, Malawi. He started with just one laptop. With the Small Business Fund (SBF) grant, he was able to expand the shop and it now has photocopiers and a printer. When I met Gly, he told me, “Yes, I have been sharing the gift. I’m training others to use computers. Also, I am training a boy of no relation to help at the shop.”
Providing jobs for others is a popular form of Sharing the Gift. Here is the testimony I heard from Pamela Angango (pictured below) in Nairobi, Kenya: “Thanks God for this wonderful day. I sell rice and beans and I used the SIA grant to expand my shop. I also take orders from school kids and bring them food on their lunch break. For Sharing the Gift, my neighbor watches the shop while I go to the school to sell food. My neighbor now even has her own business.”
Going even further, some groups that are now part of the Small Business Fund community are not started by funds from Spirit in Action but from within the community.
In Malawi, we met Zakyo Ngoma who sells kitchen containers in the Manyamula marketplace. Four other SBF groups contributed funds to give him a start-up grant to buy stock.
Visiting Zakyo’s stall for selling wash bins and containers in Manyamula. His business was started through a grant from 4 other SIA Small Business Fund groups in the community.
Similarly, four more SBF business groups in Manyamula pooled together their money, enabling Florence Phiri to start a retail second-hand clothing business. Since then, Florence has been able to put a solid roof on her house. She can also afford to take her family to the hospital when they need it. (I know some Americans who can relate to the enormity of that gift!)
Florence Phiri with her daughters in front of their newly roofed house!
Let us, the next time we receive a great gift, ask how we may pay it forward to help someone else, and thereby remind each other that there is love and hope in the world.