Friday, August 10, 2007

Our first assignment (Justin)

On Thursday, we were given our first work assignment. We went with Kelly and Roman (employee of Invest-Credit) to interview a client who was wanting to take out another loan. Invest-Credit is the official name CAMED in Moldova, who we're working for. Interns for Invest-Credit write up "case studies," which are profiles of clients and their businesses to give donors an idea of how the ministry affects people's faith as well as their businesses.

I was told "So, you'll ask this guy questions in Russian and then you can write the case study." Given a list of questions and some help from Roman on the tough ones, I began to learn about the business of Vladimir, a local cobbler.

Dream fulfilled: "Go converse with this guy in Russian about how his business affects his life, church, and community."
Sure thing! I think I did pretty well, by God's grace of course (Phil. 4:13).

Vladimir started making shoes around 2002, about the same time he started attending a local church. He got radically saved and left his life of sin while realizing that a relationship with Christ and honest work was the way to go in life. With no other professional training and few funds, Vladimir and a friend began learning how to make shoes just as Vladimir was beginning to study Scripture. Working in his at-home workshop, Vladimir learned about styles and sizes and trying new methods. After about a month, Vladimir began to sell his shoes at the central outdoor market. However, this was difficult because a customer's size has to match exactly what you've already made and brought to the market.

Vladimir realized that there was a market in his own neighborhood for his shoes. He began to take custom orders from people, realizing that people with special needs and requests couldn't find what they needed at the local bazaar. As he became more experienced, he branched out into new styles.

He is currently active in the local church as an usher. He tithes faithfully and gives money to missionaries and others who need it. God provided him a believing wife about a year ago, and his mother also lives with him. His business helps feed his family (his wife sells cosmetics, like Avon).1 year ago, "Vova" (as friends call him) took out a $400 loan from Invest-Credit, which he'd heard about at church. This helped him buy enough material for 4 pairs of shoes, and allowed him to make extra profit during a lean time of his business, which sees seasonal fluctuations. He paid off the loan in the course of a year, and is now eligible for an $800 loan.

Vladimir hopes to expand his business to include purses, wallets, and Bible covers (which he showed us prototypes of, quite nice). He also hopes to earn more money to start a ministry to needy children and hungry people. As he expands his business, he'll hopefully be able to bring on employees and create income for more people.
"My friends that I was once in sin with see my life now and want what I have. They come to church with me, and one even accepted Christ. Microcredit is important because it helps grow my business to feed my family and support my church."

6 comments:

Charles Dunn said...

Justin:

Your entry today made my heart soar! I have been following your blog daily in order to vicariously experience your hands-on activities in providing Christian microfinance. Stories like this will definitely keep me motivated to "move mountains" to promote microfinance as a means of holistic evangelism. My prayers go with you and Joni as you continue to chart new territory for 21st century missionaries.

Charles Dunn
Mustard Seed Ministries International

Charity said...

way cool! so glad dreams are being fulfilled. now...such dream fulfillment in my neck of the woods would be fabulous! =P naw, just glad to hear things are going well.

smiles,
charity =)

JTapp said...

Thanks for the comments. There are dozens of case studies like Vladimirs, and if you email me I can send you some.
Those of you who were readers of my blog know that I'm searching for information about the enterprises beyond what was written in the post. Hopefully we'll get a better "behind-the-scenes" insight in the coming weeks.

John said...

Vova's story is awesome! I look forward to hearing more testimonies like this and hope that you are encouraged by your first microcredit contact! I know that I am!!

Serghei said...

Hi, did you find by chance case studies of good tailors? I am from Chisinau and I am into this business, making ballroom gowns and selling them via Internet. I am always looking for good tailors to execute orders I get.

JTapp said...

Serghei, thanks for stopping by. I'm told that we do not have any clients that make ballroom gowns. Probably some tailors, but not quite that type. For more information you can email me at justintapp@pobox.com.