Business as a Mission: Preventing HIV in South Africa

Ellie Hutchison | September 1, 2017 | Featured, Local Institutions

“My previous way of thinking was that business is just a means of making money. Now I see business as a mission.”

These are the words of Tumi, the Courage Facilitator at South Africa HIV and AIDS Collaboration (SAHAC)—our local partner in South Africa. Tumi hadn’t heard of the concept of “Business as Mission” until she attended a Partners Worldwide Train-the-Trainer workshop.

It was there she first learned that business can be used—and might just be designed—for a greater purpose than solely making money.

PREVENTING HIV

Promoting business and economic opportunity is an integral part of SAHAC’s work to prevent the spread of HIV among youth in South Africa.

South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV in the world.

In fact, about 20% of adults in South Africa are affected by HIV—and it is a devastating disease. It attacks one’s immune system, making day-to-day life difficult and leaving the body unable to fight off other illnesses. HIV has devastated far too many South Africans, changing the course of their lives forever.

SAHAC fights the spread of HIV through the “Courage Movement”—a youth-driven initiative to prevent HIV infections.

To start, SAHAC promotes abstinence and marital fidelity. But they go far beyond that by investing in teenagers and empowering them to build better futures for themselves. Through leadership development, extracurricular activities, and life skills training, SAHAC helps teens gain the skills and experiences necessary to excel in life.

SAHAC also invests in teen’s economic futures by helping them gain employment.

They provide entrepreneurship training, job-readiness programs, and connect them with local businesses where they can get a job. SAHAC realizes the necessity of economic opportunities and is equipping youth with the resources to create better futures for themselves.

TRAIN-THE-TRAINER: EQUIPPING SAHAC LEADERS

Because promoting business is an integral part of their work with youth, the staff at SAHAC wanted to deepen their own understanding of business. So, they recently participated in one of Partners Worldwide’s Train-the-Trainer workshops.

Train-the-Trainer is designed to equip the staff of our local partners with the skills and knowledge needed to serve the entrepreneurs and business owners in their community. It also equips them to lead business training sessions, using the Partners Worldwide curriculum.

It’s truly a multiplying effect—we train local leaders, who go on to train others in their communities.

In this case, the Train-the-Trainer workshop helped deepen the SAHAC staff members own understanding of business. In doing so, they are now better prepared to invest in teenagers and help them prepare for their future careers.

The workshop teaches a wide variety of skills such as money management and business planning. But for Tumi and the rest of the staff at SAHAC, the most meaningful part of the training was learning about the Biblical perspective on business.

UNDERSTANDING BUSINESS AS A MISSION

Throughout the training, SAHAC staff learned that business is not just about making a profit, but that it is intended to be a ministry and blessing to others. Often we consider business to be “secular” work. However, all that we do—including business—is for the glory of God. The SAHAC staff were blown away by this new idea.

Mpumi, the administrator at SAHAC, recalls, “I have been in a business training before, but the Biblical perspective outlined in this training was an eye opener.”

At Partners Worldwide, we believe business is a holy calling and an opportunity to serve God, bless others, and end poverty. When business is done in this way, it can play a key role in transforming individuals and communities.

Christina, who is a Courage Counselor at SAHAC, shares: “The spiritual approach to doing business is very interesting to me as a Christian. Not only was the workshop enlightening on how to run businesses, but also in learning how doing business can actually be a ministry to others.”

When we use the Bible as a guide, it shapes the way we act and make decisions, the way we use our resources and time, and the way we care for our customers and employees. A Biblical approach to business is transformational for everyone involved.

This approach to business is important for SAHAC’s work because they understand the power of a job in the life of a teenager.

For teens at risk of poverty or HIV infection, a job really does have the ability to create a brighter future for them.

With the knowledge from the Train-the-Trainer workshop and this new understanding of business, the SAHAC staff plans to use what they’ve learned to invest their community and continue to prevent the spread of HIV.

Tumi says: “I am going to assist my dad with his business using the training material. I also intend to empower a young man who owns a car wash business. In that way, I will start to assist my community and practice Business as Mission.”

Ellie Hutchison

Ellie Hutchison

Communications Specialist

Grand Rapids, MI

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