Oruro, Bolivia – What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “microenterprise”? You might think of a family receiving a loan to jumpstart their business, or an individual attending job skills training to work towards self-sustainability. But what about an entire church coming together to generate income for their ministries? That’s exactly the model Bright Hope is implementing in Bolivia, and it’s changing how the local church can impact their community.
In December of last year, Bright Hope Allies came together on #GivingTuesday and raised more than $10,000 in 24 hours to launch a microenterprise in Bolivia. Since then, we’ve been following the progress of #ProjectEmpower, and we’re so excited to announce the microenterprise is open and earning income for the church in Bolivia!
Jesús es el Señor Church came to Bright Hope when they started an after-school program to serve vulnerable children in their community but were struggling to financially support the program. Instead of simply providing funds for the children’s program, Bright Hope encouraged the church to come up with creative ways to generate income on their own. That’s when Pastor Arturo had the idea to start a librería, a small bookstore that would provide school and office supplies to the local community. But his vision for the microenterprise didn’t end there.
The after-school program at Jesús es el Señor provides nutritious meals and educational support for children. Going a step further, Pastor Arturo has included a youth leadership development focus. When the program first began, children as young as 4 or 5 came to the church – often malnourished, uneducated and some abandoned by their parents. Today, many of those children are now 16 and 17 years old. They are graduating at the top of their high school class and are going on to lead ministries within the church. The program empowers children to take control of their futures and live out their dreams.
The microenterprise is now contributing to Pastor Arturo’s goal of developing young leaders. As many youth are growing up in the after-school program, he is now able to offer them the opportunity to work part-time in the librería. There, they learn responsibility and valuable job skills, while also earning a small wage to help them with their studies.
Celia, now 24 years old, grew up in the church and was baptized when she was 16. She’s currently studying early childhood education and hopes to work in the librería part-time to help pay for her university studies. She also serves as the coordinator for the after-school program where she’s able to put her studies into practice.
Pastor Arturo shared, “The librería isn’t just providing jobs for students like Celia. It’s helping to develop more future leaders in our community. In the after-school program, there are potential doctors and pastors and government leaders that can change our society. Thank you to everyone who is helping provide these children with that opportunity.”
#ProjectEmpower may be complete but it will continue to have a lasting impact on the church and community in Bolivia.