by Ugochi Obidiegwu (pictured third from left), 2022 Innovation and Design fellow
Joining HOPE International as an innovation and design fellow, I was curious about HOPE’s operations. I particularly wanted to see if the amazing things I saw on the website happened in real life.
Therefore, when I saw there was an opportunity to see the work of Esperanza International, HOPE’s microfinance partner in the Dominican Republic (D.R.), I signed up. And I was not disappointed. HOPE’s method of Christ-centered economic development works.
Here are four lessons I learned on organizational management and development work on the D.R. trip:
1) When pursuing a partnership, find partners that align with the vision of your organization’s development work.
Esperanza International was a glowing example of beautiful alignment. Were it not that I was in the Dominican Republic, I could have said this was a HOPE International office. How do two different organizations established at different times by different people operate as one? It is the effect of partnership done right. The close relationships among staff, the love and dedication to the entrepreneurs they serve, and the commitment to a Christ-centered approach are just a few signs of a mutually aligned partnership.
2) The people you serve are important.
Building healthy relationships with the men and women you serve leads to mutually beneficial outcomes for all stakeholders. The HOPE network believes in empowering entrepreneurs and preserving their dignity. This was evident during our visits to the different entrepreneurs Esperanza serves. Their businesses gave them a chance to take charge of their lives and futures. More importantly, it was clear that entrepreneurs saw that Esperanza’s staff cared for their well-being. Beyond working with them, the loan officers had friendships with those they served and knew about their families. When people feel cared for beyond the financial services you provide, it encourages loyalty and they are more likely to become advocates for your organization.
3) Your organization’s employees will make or mar your work.
Choose your employees well—but more importantly, create a culture that helps them thrive. HOPE believes in the concept of fit-over-time when choosing employees. This is a principle that is also evident at Esperanza: It is best to choose employees that fit the company culture because it makes a difference in how work is done. We saw this demonstrated by the loan officers we met in the D.R. They saw their work as a personal ministry to serve entrepreneurs, build a relationship with them, and draw them to God. It was beautiful to see their dedication in action. Such traits can only be preserved in a positive work environment.
4) It is possible to do development work on a Christ-centered foundation.
In my experience before HOPE, I had seen churches and Christian ministries do development work on the side. I have also seen development organizations do ministry on the side. This was my first experience of seeing an organization doing development work and ministry side by side. It’s really beautiful to see.
Based on what I saw during my time, I believe that HOPE is definitely on its way to alleviating poverty and glorifying God.
Looking to use your God-given gifts to serve the Lord, empower underserved entrepreneurs, and accelerate the end of poverty? Consider joining HOPE’s team of Christ followers! Explore and apply for our open positions on our careers page.
Ugochi Obidiegwu is the 2022 Innovation and Design fellow at HOPE International. She studies public and nonprofit management and policy at New York University. Her specialization is social Impact, innovation, and investment. She is Nigerian and passionate about leveraging innovative solutions to solve problems throughout the African continent.