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Volunteer Interview: How John Hanson Walks Alongside Partners

John Hanson (right front in dark shirt) volunteers with a team of business affiliates and local leaders in El Salvador.
John Hanson (right front in dark shirt) volunteers with a team of business affiliates and local leaders in El Salvador.

John Hanson of Kansas City, MO, has served with Partners Worldwide since 2016. As a Business Affiliate (BA), he walks alongside Local Community Institutions (LCI’s) in El Salvador, sharing his expertise from nearly two decades as franchise owner of a residential cleaning service.  

John first connected with Partners Worldwide after becoming part of a CEO roundtable where business owners shared their challenges and coached one another. 

“That was the first time I had ever gotten business coaching and I found that I learned a lot through that process,” said John. “I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could take what I’m learning here and mentor internationally?’ I wrote to six or seven different business as mission organizations and the only organization that wrote me back was Partners!” 

What’s unique about your El Salvador business affiliate team?  

“It just so happened that there were three other couples who had joined [as volunteers] around the same time. We developed a team and started going to El Salvador together. That’s been really helpful when we meet with the Local Community Institutions… If there are couples who are interested in becoming BAs, I would encourage you to do this.” 

John Hanson chocolate business

Describe working with business owners as a volunteer. What do you have in common? 

“When you own a business, you’re really a generalist. You’re doing sales, you’re doing marketing, you’re doing management, HR, finance, government compliance. You touch a ton of things as a business owner because ultimately you don’t have specialized departments like a Fortune 500 company. That’s one of the biggest skills you learn in business: how to find a way to solve a problem.  

“And so, as a BA, you’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re business owners in another context and we know what it’s like to struggle. We know what it’s like to solve problems. You have different challenges that you face, challenges I haven’t faced before, but I’m willing to come and sit with you and learn and listen and brainstorm. I’m here to walk alongside you. 

 “Through Covid, we were on weekly calls with one of our LCIs, discussing how to restructure loans, how to prioritize loans, and really talking about the nuts and bolts of the business… In many ways, if nothing else, we were there to walk through (the pandemic) with them, and I think they appreciated that.” 

John Hanson LCI partners

How does faith play a role in your work? 

John prefaces his answer with a quote from theologian Abraham Kuyper, who said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ—who is Sovereign over all—does not cry: ‘Mine!’” 

For John, this quote is an important reminder that work is a form of worship. 

“Business can be done without bringing God into it,” he says, “but if you do [that], you’re likely to miss seeing other people as creations. Instead, you see them as tools to use for your benefit. You might be able to do good things (without a Biblical perspective), but ultimately, you’re not working for the best thing, which is the glory of God.” 

Interested in using your business skills as a volunteer? Get in touch with us at