Over six years ago, our Co-Founder and President, Paul Barmaksezian, set off with his wife, Ani, and two children, Michelle and Luke, to serve some of the poorest communities in Nicaragua, the second poorest country on the Western Hemisphere. With years of experience, they are learning the differences of healthy vs. toxic programs which Provide for the poor. Toxic programs don’t last, and they eat up resources, as beneficiaries don’t feel a sense of ownership or pride in the gift they received. Healthy, life-changing programs always include some form of investment on the part of the one receiving, providing self-esteem and a sense of commitment to the program. Through our Small Loan and Small Business Start-up programs, we have found a formula which provides life-changing, long-lasting opportunities to some of the poorest in the world.
The 58:7 Ministries Small Loan program has provided small and medium-sized loans (from hundreds to thousands of dollars per loan) to individuals, small businesses, and organizations who have proven ownership over their finances and projects. Over the years, we have loaned out more than $150,000 overall, much of which started with a small seed fund of $30,000. Many of the ongoing loans are now self-sustaining, as new loans come from the funds paid back from former loans. Funding has helped build safe, adequate housing for families, provided much needed vehicles for transportation, helped fund new businesses, and helped a church purchase its own sanctuary for services. With additional seed funding, this program can easily be expanded to help many more families, and having our missionaries on the ground assures us there is follow-up with each loan recipient.
We believe small business is one of the great opportunities to help break the cycle of poverty. In Nicaragua, we engage with several individuals and partnerships to provide seed funding and initial operational funding to help launch what can be a major point of transformation for families; not only of the owners, but for many who they employ. We are proud of the partnerships we have made with initiatives like El Cafecito Bistro and Bakery, the YakolQuiroz Carpentry Workshop, and multiple other small “pulperias” (neighborhood grocery stores) and bakeries. More than a hand-out, we believe in funding and educating small business owners will lead to long-lasting benefits.