Good morning from 37,000 feet!
I am currently flying back to Baltimore from a business conference in Denver, Colorado. At the conference, and many other places, I have been asked how everything is going in Nicaragua. The current answer to that question is quite exciting.
Approximately six months ago, during a visit by some of my US-based team members, we began to sense that God was calling us to something new in Nicaragua. We had been working in development, specifically small business development, for a number of years, but primarily through partnerships with ministries in Nicaragua. While these had been and still are great projects, we believed God was starting to open new doors. During the groups visit to Nicaragua, one of our most recent ministry partners, Noah, started a discussion that has led us to where we are today. At the time we were in the process of creating a for-profit business to “house” the agriculture operation at the farm and potentially other small enterprises such as the Veracruz bike shop. In talking about our goals, Noah suggested thinking a little bigger. Over the months that followed, we went through a process of determining what that meant and where God was leading us.
I have found over time that God is far better than I am at putting the right pieces together. This has certainly been the case as we have explored this new initiative in Nicaragua. As we worked through the process, it became incredibly clear that the team had the perfect mix of gifts and experiences. It was through that perfect mix that we came up with the business cultivator, as I like to call it.
As its name suggests, the business cultivator is a tool to help create, nurture, and grow businesses. Different from many micro-financing initiatives in developing nations, the business cultivator takes an equity approach to providing resources. In other words, it creates a true partnership between the people who are investing the funds and the Nicaraguan business owners who are receiving them. By creating actual business partnerships, we believe the business cultivator will provide more accountability and mentorship. Over my two years in Nicaragua, and my time in business before moving, I have seen and experienced how important both of these elements are for new business owners. In addition to business mentoring, we believe the relationships that develop will provide opportunities for life and spiritual mentoring. In the end, the hope is that the Nicaraguan small business owners will be set up to flourish and, eventually, will no longer need the US-based partner.
Six months after that initial conversation, we are excited to say that we have our first business in the cultivation process. NicaBike Shop, a Managua-based secondhand bike store, officially came to be on May 1st, 2014. In order to establish the business the two Nicaraguan business owners, Josh and William, were required to submit a formal business plan for review. Additionally, they have and continue to partner with their US-based mentors as they go through the process of creating the business. We are excited to partner with Josh and William on this new adventure. There is more to come on NicaBike Shop and how your unwanted bike could make a difference in a future post.
We do not know exactly where God will take this new journey in Nicaragua, but we are excited to be along for the ride!
– James Belt
(This is just a small snapshot of the business cultivator and how it works. If you would like more information, please feel free to let me know. Additionally, I will make posts in the future with more specifics.)