By Regan Durkin, HOPE Rising advocate
For spring break this year, I traveled with a group of fellow University of Georgia (UGA) classmates to the Dominican Republic (D.R.) with HOPE International. I’m a freshman at UGA, a part of the Terry College of Business Entrepreneurship Program, and a HOPE Rising advocate. The HOPE trip was designed to expose students to the world of Christ-centered microenterprise development in a tangible way.
This opportunity to humble myself and learn from dedicated business men and women in the D.R. changed the way I view my faith and entrepreneurship. I realized that it’s the motivation behind the entrepreneur that defines his or her success—not the cash flow statement or the percentage of market share a business obtains. Money follows value every time, not the other way around.
I had the opportunity to interview and learn from many clients like Ana Dilia. Ana does it all. She makes domestic products like shampoo, creates bags out of recycled materials, and crafts other small decorative items. Beyond her business, Ana went on to tell our group that she is passionate about teaching women in her community how to make these same products so that they can have a source of income.
Puzzled, we asked her,”Doesn’t that add competition into your market?” She reassured us,”Yes, but I don’t care if I have competition. I want to minister God’s grace to those around me so they may have better lives as well.”
Wow. Her passion for teaching made me make the connection that the ability to teach is a characteristic of an effective social entrepreneur because it makes those around you better versions of themselves. This theme of sacrifice and motivation to serve others is unreal. I saw and heard it over and over again while meeting these entrepreneurs in the D.R. It just makes me wonder, what if we took a fraction of this mindset home with us. How would entrepreneurship, or business in general, change in the United States?
The other trip participants and I feel that we want to give these intelligent, successful entrepreneurs a voice and encourage others to advocate for the work of HOPE. We are working to establish a HOPE Rising chapter within the Society of Entrepreneurs here at UGA. We hope this will spur interest and engagement in HOPE International’s work, while also creating a culture that discusses and discerns life changing social entrepreneurship.
The impact of this trip has not only changed my way of thinking, but it has changed the way I operate. I think the clients I met throughout this trip allowed me to see the reality of the natural interplay between work and the Gospel.
To find out more about HOPE Rising or to sign up to be a HOPE Rising advocate, go to www.myhoperising.com.
Regan Durkin is a freshman at the University of Georgia and a HOPE Rising advocate passionate about entrepreneurship and the Gospel around the world.