Living Social Justice

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

Archive for the tag “small business”

Give Hope through Paradigm Shift

This Christmas, you can enable a small business owner to attend a business course that might just change their lives for good. 

An aerial shot of a Paradigm Shift class in action

An aerial shot of a Paradigm Shift class in action

It’s a Tuesday evening in Wynberg, Cape Town, and gathered together for the Paradigm Shift business course are 30 small business owners each with a unique vision for their future. There’s Sally who dreams of using the business skills she’s learning to help others out of poverty, and Theresa who hopes to take her business of hand-sewn home decor products to the next level by improving her customer service.

For many of these Paradigm Shift participants, this course is their first introduction to basic business principles like budgeting, record keeping, advertising, and investing. The skills they learn here could be what turns their struggling small business into a profitable and sustainable enterprise capable of bringing in a steady income and providing for their families.

Since 2010, more than 150 small business owners have graduated from the Paradigm Shift course run by Common Ground Church. One entrepreneur’s revenue increased from R2500 per month to over R8000 per month while doing the course!

A volunteer and participant deep in discussion

A volunteer and participant deep in discussion

Across South Africa, over 15 churches have implemented the Paradigm Shift model to train, coach and mentor 1800 entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs increased their income by an average of 72%, supporting more than 9000 family members in the process.

Who is the Paradigm Shift course for?

It is aimed at micro-entrepreneurs and people who may have started their own business out of need. Many of the participants may not have  finished school or had the opportunity to get tertiary education or any business training.

Participants getting involved in the session

Participants getting involved in the session

How does Paradigm Shift work?

The course starts with the entrepreneur attending a one day Business Experience course, where they learn basic business skills in a fun, interactive way. If they enjoy this and would like to continue, they can sign up for the 18 week programme, which includes a Business Growth course and an Emmaus Road course, which teaches the entrepreneurs how to apply biblical principles to their business.

The programme is run by a team of business-minded volunteers who are keen to share their experience and see people grow both in their business knowledge and in their personal lives. Each of the small business owners also receives a volunteer mentor, who they meet with once a month to discuss what they’re learning in their course, how their business is doing and to connect on a personal level.

Hard at work completing one of the exercises

Hard at work completing one of the exercises

Here’s what some previous Paradigm Shift graduates had to say:

“This programme has helped me so much. It has lifted me business wise and spiritually. It gave me an opportunity to mix and share with different people.” – Rosemary

“I’ve made new business contacts, met new friends, and received practical advice on day-to-day business needs and how to resolve issues.” – Fernando

“It is great for networking and meeting people who are able to assist and connect and direct your business in relevant and appropriate ways.” – Lezley

For more on how you can get involved in the Paradigm Shift course, email us. Read further for info on how you can support it through our Give Hope Cards…

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Show loveShow Love This Christmas: Put someone through the Paradigm Shift course

This festive season, you can profoundly impact someone’s life by giving them the opportunity to attend the Paradigm Shift course. How? Purchase a Paradigm Shift Give Hope card for R200. There are also other cards available which all support Common Good initiatives. Click here for more info. On sale at Common Good involvement desks (Sundays) and at the Common Ground café.

Volunteer Q&A: Paradigm Shift Business Course

Roy, right, with Freddy, left, one of the Paradigm Shift students, at the course graduation ceremony

Full name: Roy Mayers

Congregation: Common Ground South

Occupation: Finance and Admin Manager (Retired)

How long have you been a volunteer at Paradigm Shift? This is my second year.

When do you go and for how long? I spend an hour one evening a week with a little extra time for set-up and prayer. A normal course is 18 weeks, but we alternate volunteers as needed.

Can you explain what you do while you’re there? I teach business skills and discipleship training as a table facilitator with up to six aspiring entrepreneurs.

Facilitators who are normally six in number take it in turns to lead a 30 minute business skills or discipleship training session and can be involved with mentoring or micro-loan family meetings.

Can you tell us a bit about Paradigm Shift? The mission of Paradigm Shift is to train churches in South Africa to provide business training, discipleship, micro-credit and mentoring to those living in poverty in urban areas.

Common Ground is presently the only church in Cape Town assisting Paradigm Shift in meeting the spiritual and economic needs of the poor in their communities in our city through this excellent program.

The aim is to provide long-term solutions to the poverty surrounding mainly unemployed people in urban areas where needs of the working poor in neighbouring communities are tremendous, especially for women and children.

Why did you decide to volunteer at Paradigm Shift? On hearing of Common Good’s involvement I immediately identified with the need and wanted to make a difference in a practical way. I had previously been involved as a volunteer teaching woodwork skills to young men at the Westlake United Church Trust Community Centre. The opportunities to share life’s experiences in a meaningful way seemed tremendous.

Did you have any concerns about volunteering? I had no experience of formal teaching and lacked confidence in this area. It seemed harder to me as for many years my wife had lectured at UCT and run Lifeline courses, while my son was a school teacher and Radio CCFM broadcaster. Needless to say I soon discovered a very supportive group environment and quickly found my confidence in the small “up-front teaching” part of my commitment.

The business trainer and life coach manuals provide a wealth of material in addition to the information in the entrepreneurs manuals. This made it immediately easy.

What are  some of the challenges you face in volunteering? A little time is required weekly to familiarise myself with the course material which is always excellent and relevant to the needs of our entrepreneurs.

It can be hard work winning the trust and friendship of people who have such different challenges in their lives, and to accept that they have unique skills and opportunities to overcome problems in life and faith with which I have seldom had to cope.

What keeps you going? I gave my life to Christ more than 50 years ago, but every day brings opportunities to learn more of the mind of Christ and His love and His practical way of leading and guiding by His Spirit and through His word, which are powerful in meeting the needs of ordinary men and women.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your volunteer experience? The end of course graduation is an amazing event where graduates and past graduates share how much they have benefited in their business, in their confidence in facing life’s difficulties, and in their daily walk with Christ. It is like seeing a miracle where a “few loaves and fishes are used to feed a multitude”. Helping men and women recognise their gifts and God-given abilities despite material poverty, remains an awesome experience.

– Would you like to find out more about volunteering with Paradigm Shift? Email info@commongood.org.za

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