Take Action. Inspire Change.
Today is the Nelson Mandela International Day, launched in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18, 2009 via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly. It was inspired by a call Mandela made for the next generation to create change and take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”.
It is more than a celebration of his life, it is a global movement to honor his life’s work and act to change the world for the better.
The campaign call to action is simple: Take Action. Inspire Change. Make every day a Mandela Day and celebrate the potential that each individual has to transform the world. We are inspired by the example that Madiba has set for us: each of us taking responsibility for ourselves and acting on the responsibility we have to others.
To become part of the Mandela Day movement, all that is required is an action that helps change the lives of people for the better. To ensure that their actions have lasting benefits, they should with and within communities, always strive to leave behind not only physical changes but also a sense of empowerment, helping to build pride amongst those communities so that they can take charge of their destinies and change their circumstances. The cumulative actions of people, even if it is one small step at a time, can become a transformative momentum.
You can help us here at Business Connect celebrate Mandela Day by sponsoring an entrepreneur. For $300, we will help a budding entrepreneur by providing a basic inventory of clean resources that is needed to start a new business as well as the training required by our in-country representative. You can choose whether you would like to help a student, woman or a man trying to create a better life for his family. You can even choose the country you would like to help.
If you don’t think you can make a difference in the lives of others, contact us. We will share with you our experiences and tell you otherwise. Remember, it just takes one person to make a difference and start the ball rolling to effect change in the lives of others. Just like Nelson Mandela did.
To those who follow us on social media, those who are our champions, engaged partners, friends, relatives, and those who support our work from here in the US; we are so grateful for you. This is our monthly newsletter that we would like to share in our blog space to stay in touch.
Africa Comes to America:
“Muna ga duniya!” I heard these Hausa words more than once the past two weeks as we hosted Filibus and Tabitha, our steward and house help from 45 years ago in Nigeria. After being away from Africa for 30 years we started to receive telephone calls. After many conversations and trying to damper their expectations, I made a statement…if they could get a passport and a visa, I would help them come to the States. They had no idea what they were asking and I knew it was impossible…and I was safe.
It had been a passion, a dream, a fantasy; something they worked for to come and visit America. Their request had been denied several times by the U.S. embassy. After years of effort, engaging others to help, and rejection after another…it finally happened: a two year multiple entry visa. A miracle!
They come from a rural village called Baissa in Northern Nigeria near the Cameroon border. To date they do not have running water nor electricity in their home. Neither attended primary school. Tabitha speaks four languages, Filibus three. Neither of them speak English although Filibus understands some. They are no longer young. Filibus has some serious eyesight issues.
It reminds me of the story found in the New Testament about a lady who dreamed big dreams for her two sons. She came to the Master and asked that they have positions in his kingdom. Jesus’ response was incredulous and he responded with “You do not know what you are asking!” (Matt. 20:22).
To put it bluntly, having Filibus and Tabitha here has been an absolutely incredible experience. They were like babies, innocent, dependent, helpless; yet they helped us gain insights into our own culture, values, and spiritual journey. It also reminded us of how utterly useless, helpless, and dumb we were when we first arrived in Nigeria. Reaching out to serve others, and in our case, the provision of clean and safe water to those most needy, cross culturally around the world sounds audacious, unrealistic, and not much based in reality…until I think about the last two weeks. They kept saying “Muna ga duniya!” which means “We are seeing the world!” In the near future I will share more about this experience and how it changed my life as well.
My prayer is that you will continue to partner with us as we see and embrace the needs of the world. Check out our website at www.Businessconnectworld.com and see our 500 mile walk progress for this year. Join us. We need you!
With a grateful heart,
Lou Haveman and the team
Mission and Business Working Together to Create Hope
A mission group recently traveled from the States to Guatemala to help with construction projects on the ground. While they were there, they distributed Village Filters to families and also installed these water filtration systems in the five homes they built. Families now have clean water in their homes!
The mission group also distributed another 20 filters to more families in need. Realizing how clean water is a basic necessity very much in need in this community, the mission organization is already purchasing another 100 filters today to send with their next group that is traveling back there in a few weeks.
Of course, our local partner in Guatemala is a part of the process – growing his business while supporting these missions. Even though the sale happened here in the States, we still continue with our commitment to share the profits with the entrepreneur in Guatemala. And, if a product malfunctions or a family needs operational assistance, our Business Connect representative is there to help! This is a win-win for everyone. With clean water, families will have better health and save valuable time that was spent walking to the local village for water or collecting it from dirty streams. Money saved from the purchase of clean water can now go towards other clean resources or for educational tools for their children.
What is stopping you from getting involved? Bring along clean water filters or solar lights on your next mission trip or share our name with your favorite mission organization. Let’s bring an end to global poverty together! Visit us at www.BusinessConnectWorld.com.
The first week of March, Jereme and I were at the Global Agriculture Summit hosted by Dordt College in North West Iowa. Partners Worldwide, the Andreas Center for Reformed Scholarship and Service, and World Renew brought together an international group of leaders from the fields of agriculture, business, community development, and the Christian academy for an intensive two-day conference on how Christians, farmers, and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) can work together to restore our world. About 650 people attended from business partnerships around the world. We did not see a charity in the room.
The conference was all about finding sustainable business solutions. It was most clearly demonstrated in example after example, from apple orchards in the State of Washington to vertically integrated poultry projects in Mozambique. STOP giving aid! STOP the charity! STOP building another orphanage unless it is sustainable. I can summarize the theme in three words: SHARE THE MARKET!
A Perfect Example Why Charity Does Not Work.
Several weeks ago we received a request to provide 400 water filters for a project. The NGO who made the request wanted the best price. We strongly suggested they purchase from our local supplier, although the price would be higher. It had to be. They had to make a profit. They imported the product. They paid customs. The paid the transportation. They had overhead. Unfortunately for our in-country representative, our business, and for the people being helped, the NGO purchased the product from the North American manufacturer directly.
The NGO staff and donors felt great. They saved money and were able to purchase more filters than had they purchased locally. They had donors who felt great about their generosity. The people were happy. They received the product free. The American manufacturer was delighted.
The result? “What you do not pay for you do not value! What you do not value you do not care for!” Almost immediately there will be those who would like to have the product but there will be no supplier. If it was there, they would not want to pay for it because it had been given away free of charge. Worse, when the filter needed service or a replacement, there would be no one to purchase from. There is no continuing presence. Families who had experienced clean and safe water for several years, needing a replacement filter or component, would now have to drink unfiltered water, having built up no immunity, and will find themselves very sick.
Business Connect Has a Solution.
We are committed to finding a business solution; one that is sustainable, profitable, and accessible to the poorest of the poor. When a donation is given to Business Connect we make sure the delivery is made in such a way that the local business entrepreneur is empowered.
We do not claim to have all the answers nor even the right answer but we believe we have a better answer. A new documentary entitled Poverty, Inc. documents well how flawed charity and aid have not helped the developing world at all. It provides clear evidence that charity is not the answer.
Lou …for the Business Connect Team…and so many who continue to encourage us.
A Reflection on the Flint Water Crisis by Lou Haveman, Founder
Across the United States everyone has heard of the Flint Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan. This city of 102,000 people is only 90 miles from my home. The water supply is contaminated with lead among other chemicals. There is political conflict between the various health officers representing local officials, state, and even federal regulators. In the meantime, everyone is purchasing their drinking water, most drinking water now comes in one gallon plastic containers. No one has made a comment about the environmental impact of plastic jugs that do not decompose.
A number of people have said to us, “You guys are the water people! Why don’t you bring your water filters to Flint? You market them around the world.” The answer is “Yes, we do. However, our filters are not made to filter out heavy metals, pesticides, anything that is soluble.” The filters we sell remove essentially all pathogens, e-coli, protozoa, cholera, typhoid, and so on. So we have a niche solution that does not work for everything.
I do wonder though whether it would not be wise for all of us to take pro-active preventive action. Every now and again we sell our filters to people who have no intention of ever using the filter…just in case the well fails…the water system becomes contaminated…there is no power and water no longer flows…when it will be up to us to find our own drinking water from a local lake, pond, river, rain water, or melted snow. There is a great deal of comfort in knowing your water is clean and safe to drink. A simple kit is $35.00. Check out our website for more information on our water filtration devices.
One could make a case for taking personal responsibility for our health. It could also be said that we take a more active and personal interest in our political systems and the bureaucracies created for our own protection. Just a thought. Stay tuned for more information on the Flint water crisis. To learn more, read an excerpt online by Edge Effect, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
Helping others is more than a passion. It’s our calling. The proportion of people living below the poverty line — less than $2 a day — is growing quickly and we need your help to create hope and change lives through business! We are ready to teach more young people and women how to become sustainable entrepreneurs distributing clean and life-enhancing products while informing their communities of the health risks of using fuel like kerosene or drinking dirty water. Are you looking for a way to get involved? Sponsor an entrepreneur! Contact us for more details on how you and your business can help today.
Have you checked out our Facebook page lately? These amazing photographs we received tell the story of how Business Connect introduced the Sawyer water filter to the in-country staff of Compassion International and they still follow the model we established with them. It is very exciting to us when we receive progress reports that show the outgrowth of the work we did in the past and is being continued to this day. Have you taken our products to the mission field, used them for disaster recovery or humanitarian situations? Send us your impact photos to share on Facebook and our social media channels today!
As a social enterprise, our focus at Business Connect is on building a distribution network that sells life-enhancing products to the poorest people in the world. The Stanford Social Innovation Review shared how getting these products to the last yard of the last mile will create the most sustainable and positive social change IF you have the sales experience to reach the right customers and close the deal. If you would like to learn more about our needs-based approach and how we use our years of business experience to create relationships to fight global poverty, read “Social Enterprises Closing the Deal.”
During a recent visit to the Humanitarian Outreach of the Mormon Church at Temple Square in Salt Lake City and World Vision in Federal Way, just outside Seattle, Lou took time out to visit the City of Rocks National Reserve in Idaho where old granite spires tower out of the desert. The Reserve protects a portion of the California Trail where emigrants marked their passage with the axle grease at Register Rock. As he walked around and imagined what it might have been like to ride in a wagon train crossing this stretch of land 175 years ago, he wondered about water, because there was none to be seen in this barren landscape. The average person in the developing world uses less than three gallons per day. In the U.S. alone, the average consumption per person per day is just over 100 gallons. We hope this gives you “water” for thought and you are willing to help us expand our reach to create a more sustainable world!
Until Next Time,
The Business Connect Team
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