With a name that means “The Savior,” El Salvador is a diverse land of entrepreneurial people, towering volcanoes, and lush rainforests.
Yet amidst the beauty, 36% of Salvadorans live in poverty and many more face the daily challenges of crime and gang violence.
Still, we have seen God at work in El Salvador. Local institutions and leaders from all sectors have stepped up with an urgent desire to bring lasting transformation to their communities.
In 2015 we took the plunge and accepted the invitation to partner in El Salvador, excited to apply the business partnership models we had developed in Honduras in this new context.
Our team, made up of our regional staff and Business Affiliate from Lansing, MI, began meeting with local business leaders. Together we discussed issues of poverty, how to help wisely, and how business can be a powerful tool in the fight against poverty.
Local leaders passionately responded to this call and are strategizing on how to engage others to join in the movement of using business as a mission.
Coming from different backgrounds, denominations, and communities, our team gathers faithfully every week. Together we are laying the groundwork to start a local community institution (LCI) that will serve small businesses and entrepreneurs across El Salvador.
Alex and Yessenia’s Story
One of the most remarkable businesses we have encountered so far in El Salvador is a construction company owned by husband-wife duo Alex and Yessenia Rivera.
As we visited one of their construction sites, Alex told us his testimony:
“I used to struggle with addiction; I was hopeless and alone. After I meet Jesus, I went to church… And I love the church. I think it’s great that we gather to sing and read the Bible. But many people sing with empty stomachs… we need to do church outside the building and work diligently to provide opportunities.”
Alex had a difficult time finding work with his troubled background, prompting him and Yessenia to start their own construction company.
Today, their company employs 10 people full time and provides around 15-90 subcontracted or part-time jobs.
An El Salvador Without Poverty
Alex and Yessenia’s business is one of many our newest LCI is supporting with spiritual encouragement and business mentoring.
Our Salvadoran network is still taking shape, but faithful businesspeople like Alex and Yessenia bring us hope for the future.
This coming year we will complete the launch of our new LCI which will offer business training and mentoring at first, and eventually access to capital and advocacy tools as well. We will also formalize partnerships with local like-minded organizations and continue to raise awareness about a partnership and business-based approach to poverty alleviation.
It is a privilege to participate in the unfolding of God’s kingdom in El Salvador. We look forward to see how the seeds planted will come to fruition and how our partnerships will contribute to building an El Salvador without poverty.