Many Alabama residents regularly find incredible deals at Vapor Ministries’ Birmingham-area thrift stores, but did you know that we also operate multiple small businesses through our international outreach centers? Examples include facility rentals, commercial well water and agricultural product sales, fitness center memberships, running track access, and Kisanii Market, an online storefront offering premium handmade leather goods and jewelry. Revenue produced through these businesses is cycled back into the entity to help offset operational expenses.
Though profit is important for this reason, the fundamental aim of Vapor's business strategy is to create jobs and increase knowledge to foster economic transformation in the world’s poorest communities. In fact, the education and skills training provided through Vapor’s small businesses equips individuals with marketable experience that generates additional labor opportunities and even sparks entrepreneurial endeavors. Supplying the tools needed to facilitate independent ventures might seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually the end goal.
“People starting their own businesses is the expectation,” stressed Christian Nkulikiye, Vapor’s Vice President of International Profit Centers. “It’s a win-win. If people start their own businesses, we can then bring in new workers and teach them as well. The more people that learn and benefit from these processes, the greater the economic impact.”
While much of this training involves first-time learns, adaptation and continuous improvement have also proven invaluable. In Haiti, for example, where Vapor is in the process of securing an organic certification for its banana crops, many locals with cultivation experience once objected to plowing methods suggested by outside agriculture experts. When the new method produced dramatically better results than the local workers expected, they began implementing the strategy in their own gardens. Efficiency gains and record harvests resulted.
Shared knowledge is the final and most desirable component in this model. As workers become proficient with their craft, they can offer unique insight into methods and materials that further refine the process. This benefits the organization, the end consumer, and by extension, all future businesses and their employees.
Your generosity was planted in the heart of the poorest communities on earth and today it's producing beautiful fruit. In the last year, Vapor's international businesses produced more than 1,120 work opportunities with another 6,000 generated by construction of our newest center in Haiti. The knowledge and skills shared within the community are impacting countless lives. This beautiful picture combined with the provision of food programs, free water, access to health services, education, and advancement of the Gospel is creating lasting change.
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