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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.

Regan and Ana Delia

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?

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by Tracy Clark, HOPE Rising advocate

In August of 2012, one HOPE supporter began his exciting journey to use his gifts, talents, and passions to invest in the dreams of families living in poverty. A talented swimmer who’d served as a swimming coach, Zach McArdle put on an IronSeahorse swim and run at his local country club in Buffalo, NY, with registration fees going toward HOPE International. Not only did the event raise $1,050, it also created an opportunity for Zach to share with individuals in the Buffalo area about Christ-centered microenterprise. “I got to talk about a faith-based organization at a private swim club!” says Zach.

Through his travels to Africa, work as a full-time accountant, and interest in Christ-centered microenterprise development, Zach has developed a passion for the work of HOPE International. He decided to put this passion into action by becoming a HOPE Rising advocate.

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Youth group jumping rope

At the end of February, eight members of the Mountville Mennonite Church middle school youth group set out to make a difference through a “Jump Rope for HOPE” jump-a-thon. The group was motivated by a visit to HOPE’s Pathways out of Poverty exhibit in the fall of 2012. Located at HOPE’s headquarters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Pathways provides a multisensory look at the stories of eight individuals living in poverty around the world and invites participants to respond. Continue Reading…