Today’s highlighted ministry is one of the most exciting groups that I’ve found to date! Paradigm Shift is an organization that partners with South African churches and equips them to provide business training, microloans, mentoring and discipleship to entrepreneurs in the community. The materials provided by Paradigm Shift help local churches to become an entrepreneur’s source for good business and stewardship principles, which enables entrepreneurs to overcome poverty for their families and close knit communities.
I had the opportunity to meet Jedd Schroy, the founder and director of Paradigm Shift, and was really impressed with what the ministry is doing in South Africa. Jedd’s passion is to equip the church to help the poor rise up from poverty by using basic but powerful business and spiritual principles.
There are four key components of Paradigm Shift that make it so effective:
The first step for entrepreneurs is to participate in the Business Experience Course. Once finished, entrepreneurs apply for a microloan and upon approval, receive $185 to invest directly into their business. Equipped with the basic resources they need to maintain a budget, set prices, target customers, and advertise, these entrepreneurs have reported an astounding 82% increase in business income after finishing both the Business Experience and Growth Courses.
The lending environment in South Africa and developing countries across Africa is a challenge for small entrepreneurs. Most do not have access to formal banking systems and must rely on family members or moneylenders to front the capital for their business. Unfortunately, many community moneylenders can charge up to 1,000% APR on the loans!
The structure of Paradigm Shift is to train and equip local churches to provide the microloans. Each church actually provides the loans for the group of entrepreneurs and holds 18 weekly meetings where the entrepreneurs repay a portion of their loan each week and participate in further business training. The outstanding part of the model is that over 450 entrepreneurs have completed the program with a repayment rate of 100%.
Each week of the program, the entrepreneurs learn Biblical principles through the Emmaus Road Course. The goal at Paradigm Shift is to address both the physical poverty as well as the spiritual poverty, so incorporating discipleship into the program is key for its success.
The entrepreneurs in the program have the opportunity to partner with a mentor in the church sponsoring the entrepreneurial group. The support of the mentors is part of the reason behind the high success rate among the entrepreneurs. Over 50% of the mentors meet two to four times each month with their entrepreneurs and go above and beyond by actively getting to know their families and visiting their businesses regularly.
Helping The Entrepreneurial poor
Jedd Schroy explained that unique group of people will take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Paradigm Shift program. The entrepreneurial poor include those who have a skillset like sewing, beadwork, or woodworking, but have never used it to create income for their family. What makes them different from the other poor people in the community is that the entrepreneurial poor aren’t looking for a handout. Instead they combine hard work, a personal initiative to succeed and a desire to provide for their family, and they turn it into a business opportunity.
I absolutely love the work that Paradigm Shift is doing in South Africa and I hope that it continues to grow. I know Jedd’s heart is to see Paradigm Shift continue to partner with churches in South Africa and to eventually see the rest of Africa, Europe and Asia welcome this model for their churches.
The greatest part of Paradigm Shift is knowing that over 14% of these entrepreneurs have given their life to Christ because of the discipleship and mentorship of the local church! This really is an exciting ministry and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Paradigm Shift.
If you want to learn more about Paradigm Shift or support their ministry financially, visit their website, click donate at the top, and explore the site to see how they’re changing lives in South Africa one entrepreneur at a time.