Business

Shiny Pennies & Laotian Coffee Farmers

This morning I had the opportunity to have coffee with a man I will call Brad. Brad is a missionary in Laos and has a successful business with a solid mission concept. He teaches farmers in Laos how to grow high–quality gourmet coffee beans.  He and his team help local farmers develop new farming skills that enable them to better support their families. As the local farmers learn to grow these higher quality beans, they can sell them for a much higher price than they would be able to by growing the lower quality beans or other local produce.  

Brad and his team have even built a training center on their 12-acre farm where they grow the seedlings of the higher quality strains of the coffee plants.  They give these seedlings to the local farmers as they are starting to grow coffee. They also invite the farmers to the training center to instruct them on the necessary techniques to produce these coffee beans effectively.  This gives Brad and his team, including the local village pastor, opportunities to have more intentional interactions with the farmers and their families, building relationships over time. The trust and goodwill established between Brad and the farmers creates an open door for the Gospel message to be shared.

Over the next 2 to 3 years, Brad’s team has a goal to export 20 tons of coffee!  At this level of production, the business/ministry will be fully self-sustaining and will not need the outside financial support that it currently requires. The next exciting step is then to duplicate the strategy in a neighboring village and start the process all over again.

I love hearing about mission organizations that make strides to be self-sustaining.  Over the years, I’ve been involved with several charities and ministries. Over time these ministries often experience donor fatigue – where donors lose interest in the cause for a variety of different reasons.  Developing strategies and goals for self-sufficiency is essential for many non-profits.

I hope you can sense my excitement about businesses using their platforms as a mission to reach people that may never set foot inside of a church. And while my intention is not to take anything away from Brad and his fantastic work, I was struck by the idea that people are often distracted by the “shiny penny.” We get excited about supporting ministries exotic places like Laos. I’m personally drawn to and captivated by Brad’s story and the opportunities he has had while being Laos.  Maybe in another blog, I’ll share about how he saved a young Laotian girl from a life of prostitution by investing in a broom business. But I do think that we sometimes miss Kingdom impact opportunities that are right in front of us.  

Do we get distracted by the “shiny penny” and miss the bigger picture? Let’s not forget that God has called us to live out our Christian walk in every area of our lives. Of course the “bigger picture” includes exciting things like supporting missionaries in far off places. But it also includes more mundane things like investing in companies that reflect our Christian values inside our investment accounts.  While this is certainly not as exciting as supporting missionary coffee farmers in Laos, it is no less critical.  In fact, from a purely Kingdom impact perspective, it may be more impactful.  For many Americans, one of our most significant financial assets is our investment accounts – aka our 401k’s and IRAs.  While we may give some money to support overseas missionaries, we have tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in our investment accounts that may not align with our values. That is not a pleasant thought, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Is it time for you to examine the Kingdom Impact your investments?

I also have some good news for those who feel led to invest in a Biblically-Based portfolio. Several of the ETF and mutual fund providers that provide Biblically-Based Investment options have corporate giving programs that support a variety of national as well as international mission efforts.  You are getting the benefit of knowing that your investments are in alignment with your values with the bonus that a portion of the fees also has a Kingdom Impact!*  Investing as a form of faithful worship? Who would have thought!?

Want to understand better the impact your investments are having? Please contact me, and we will run an Impact Analysis on your current portfolio. Finally, I will close with this question. What’s in your portfolio?

 

 

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