Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the tag “Skills development”

Paradigm Shift Reaches New Heights

The Paradigm Shift volunteer team at December's graduation ceremony.

The Paradigm Shift volunteer team at December’s graduation ceremony.

Congrats to Paradigm Shift Master Trainer of the Year, Jennilee Hey, and Paradigm Shift Business Trainer of the Year, Ivan Mills! Here’s an article written by Janelle Schroy, co-founder of Paradigm Shift, on the programme’s success in the last year.

The sun sets over the Cape Town harbor on a warm Thursday night as 26 entrepreneurs make their way to the highlight of their week, Common Ground Church’s Paradigm Shift programme. They come from all over the Cape Town region––Capricorn, Woodstock, Samora Machel, Philippi, Wynberg, Plumstead, Muizenberg, Century City and Retreat. Some travel over an hour by taxi each way to be here. Tonight’s course starts at six o’clock, but many come a half-hour early to connect with their mentors who answer their questions and help them apply what they are learning. It’s a different feel to the other Paradigm Shift session they attend each Tuesday night, which has less one-on-one mentoring, but more prayer times.

The Paradigm Shift graduates strike a pose with their certificates.

The Paradigm Shift graduates strike a pose with their certificates.

These entrepreneurs are a part of a Paradigm Shift experiment––Common Ground is running the Paradigm Shift programme in a twice-a-week, 9-week cycle format rather than the usual once a week, 18-week cycle format. The attendance is the highest it has ever been, and the camaraderie of the group is close knit due to meeting more often. Downside? No microloans are offered as the repayments would take more time.

There is a great team spirit and unity among the volunteers. Half of them have been volunteers in the programme before, and half are new to the team. They work together fluidly, all committed to the goals of the programme as well as the methodology used to attain those goals. At one table, Ivan Mills, after his long day as an accountant at Power Logic SA, helps entrepreneurs practice negotiation techniques. Always willing to go above and beyond, Ivan facilitates with incredible enthusiasm. He also helps his Point Person with recruiting volunteers and instilling confidence in them. Ivan has been chosen as the 2012 Paradigm Shift Business Trainer of the Year, receiving an award from the national office!

A volunteer facilitating a session.

The volunteers have had a high standard set. They’ve seen an amazing example in their Paradigm Shift Master Trainer, Jennilee Hey, who is the 2012 Paradigm Shift Master Trainer of the Year. Jennilee’s commitment to ensuring the programme is well organized and coaching the volunteers to be the best they can be has established the most consistently successful programme in the country. She mitigates problems with wisdom, working closely with the church and with Paradigm Shift. The results speak for themselves. Every one of the entrepreneurs wants to be a part of the next cycle of training. It’s that good, that meaningful, that life-changing. The Paradigm Shift programme is part of Common Ground’s “Common Good” ministry, which is dedicated to helping members of Common Ground Church live compassionately while responding to issues of poverty and injustice. Common Ground’s commitment to excellently serve the poor is an example to be emulated by all Paradigm Shift partners.That’s OUTREACH. Redefined.

This article first appeared in the Paradigm Shift Common Ground Church end of year report. Thank you to Janelle and Jedd Schroy for allowing us to post it on our blog!

– To find out more about the next Paradigm Shift course starting in March, email

Volunteer Q&A – Paradigm Shift


Full name: Rose Reddy

Congregation: Rondebosch AM

Occupation: Order Facilitation Manager

How long have you been a volunteer at Paradigm Shift? Since February 2012

When do you go and for how long? Thursdays for about 1 ½ hours

Can you explain what you do while you’re there? I assist with setting up for the Discipleship and Business Training Sessions. This entails putting out the training material on the tables, writing out the key learning areas on the board and putting up the visual aids. You either assist as one of the table trainers or one of the facilitators of the training. Table trainers assist with facilitating discussions and group activities at a table of about 5 to 6 entrepreneurs – very interesting and stimulating!

Can you tell us a bit about Paradigm Shift? The Paradigm Shift programme is a highly interactive training course designed to empower entrepreneurs with business skills at whatever level of education one is at and even those who do not speak English as a first language. It is designed in a way that encourages and challenges entrepreneurs to apply learnt skills through daily application, group discussions and written work in the workbooks and weekly challenges they do on their own.

Did you have any concerns about volunteering? I cannot say I had any concerns as I took comfort in the knowledge that God would be right there with me and he would give me the courage and confidence I needed to stand in front of people and facilitate. I always invited the Holy Spirit to be with me. It was also a great help to prepare thoroughly to ensure that you knew the material well. Prayer during my quiet times, before and after each session, was a great comfort for me.

What are  some of the challenges you face in volunteering? The difference in language is a challenge one faces when engaging with entrepreneurs, as many of the students are foreign nationals. It does get better when you start to engage one-on-one and you are able to explain concepts slowly and in simple language. What keeps me going is the belief that this work is God’s purpose and that he has chosen me to be part of it and I consider it a privilege to be used in such a manner. I always felt God’s presence with me while I was in the front facilitating a lesson. Every time I started feeling a little nervous, I was reminded that God was speaking through me and that he would always give me the words to speak to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your volunteer experience? My most fulfilling experience as a volunteer was seeing the entrepreneurs grow in their business, grow in their confidence and their spiritual growth. Their enthusiasm and willingness to participate in all aspects of the lessons was also really encouraging. I enjoyed engaging with the entrepreneurs and the other volunteers and the team spirit was amazing. To be part of this initiative is an amazing blessing to me. I just feel so encouraged by this programme. God  IS at work! In  us and through us,  and I ask the Holy Spirit to continue to show me where opportunities to serve present themselves and step up. I feel so privileged!

– If you would like to find out more about volunteering with Paradigm Shift, please email The next course is starting in March so you can sign up until the end of February. 

Feedback from a Paradigm Shift student

This week, we’re going to be sharing feedback from some of our initiatives! Today, we hear from Adele, a small business owner who has been attending our Paradigm Shift business training and discipleship course, hosted at the Common Ground Wynberg venue every week for the past 9 weeks… So what did she think of the course?

Here’s what other Paradigm Shift students had to say:

“I never used to read the bible or pray in a group. But this programme boosted my spirit, vision, faith, taught me to be a man of character who sets his own goals, and tackles every problem with prayer. I have learnt to save and respect the little money I get for it comes by God’s grace. Thanks to Paradigm Shift I now know that God is almighty. I have found direction. In God I trust.” – Mafaro

“This programme is awesome, thank you to all the volunteers that have given their time to us. When I first saw the advert in the community paper I was immediately drawn to it, looking back now and having now learnt about the Holy Spirit, I can see that He lead me here. The course is wonderful, because it not only teaches you about business but also about the spiritual side and how it can impact your business interactions. This course has truly given me food for thought and direction, something I prayed for a while ago. Thank you very much!” – Silvana

“This was a really great course I must say. Before this my business was dead. Now my business ideas are alive again and I’m reinspired to start anew and this time to do things properly but most important with the help of my lord Jesus Christ and to apply Godly principles too every sector of my business.” – Terence

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