Barnabas invests in hope by funding start-up costs for range of income generating projects
Economies across the world are plunging as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. It is likely that the flow of funds from wealthier countries to developing countries will diminish.
At Barnabas Fund, we believe it is time for churches everywhere to become self-funding and self-sustaining, like the New Testament churches, especially in situations of pressure and persecution.
We are investing in hope by funding start-up costs for a wide range of income generating projects. Some support individual families through “living businesses”; others will provide running costs for churches, seminaries, Christian schools and other Christian ministries.
Support for food businesses in Pakistan
The economy of Pakistan was badly impacted by the Covid crisis, and many people lost their jobs. Christians already marginalised and discriminated against by most of the Muslim majority, and restricted to low status, low income jobs, especially suffered.
Our focus is to make the Christian community in Pakistan self-sufficient and self-supporting by developing projects that will create sustainable incomes.
As part of this goal, we have helped 20 women to set up their own small food businesses in Islamabad. We funded the 25,000 rupee (£125, $160; €136) start-up costs of each business, including providing cookery training.
Start-up delivers steady daily income
We also helped provide equipment for the new ventures. In the case of Christian, Nabila, we supplied her with a portable oven, stove burner and gas cylinder, pans, cooking utensils, ingredients and raw materials.
She thanks the Lord for the success of her market stall in Islamabad, where she cooks and sells home-made pakoras, samosas and potato fries to hungry passers-by. The stall is providing a steady daily income sufficient to support herself and her husband and their four-year-old daughter.
Until recently Nabila’s husband had his own market stall selling engine oil. But Muslim rivals, jealous of a Christian’s success, became verbally abusive towards him, making threats and accusing him of stealing. The harassment became so intense that Nabila’s husband shut the stall and moved with his wife and daughter to a new home in another part of the city. Now he helps Nabila run her stall.
Nabila is thankful to Barnabas for providing her with the opportunity to start her own business. “I hope Barnabas can provide help for more Christian women like me,” she said.
“I hope Barnabas can provide help for more Christian women like me,”
Brick-kiln wives equipped for new ventures
Sewing and tailoring is another area where there is opportunity for Christian women to earn a living and become self-sufficient, even while they are they raising their children at home.
In one of Pakistan’s brick-kiln communities, we have established a training centre for women and girls to learn sewing and embroidery skills. At the end of the course, each trainee receives a sewing machine to equip them in their new ventures.
Many who attend the training already labour alongside their husbands in the brick kilns, working even during pregnancy, and pray to be able to give up this hard, physical work.
“God has opened the door for us”
“I am thankful to Jesus Christ and all those people who support us from the UK so we could stand on our feet,” said Nazia. “God has opened the door for us that we learn the work of stitching and we could earn money to be helpful to family in finances.
“My desire is to leave the work of brick kiln and just do the work of stitching and make the name of my family bright.”
Another mother, Rhana, said the money she earns will be used to pay the school fees for her three sons.
Young Christian mother given skills to support baby daughter
In south-east Asia, we fund a three-month sewing skills course for Christian women at a rural training centre. At the end of the course, each trainee is provided with a sewing machine to take back to
The course has provided Christian “Leah” with the skills to support her one-year-old daughter. Leah lives in a village where there are only a few other believers, who worship secretly in her brother’s house. Last season, the rains upon which family members rely to water their rice fields did not come and they are having to find food on a daily basis.
With the support of Barnabas, Leah attended the sewing training course and is now equipped with the skills and a sewing machine to make an income repairing clothes and making new garments.
New café in Uzbekistan provides jobs for five converts
In Uzbekistan, Barnabas funded the start-up costs of a café that provides employment and a regular wage for five Christian converts from Islam.
There is high unemployment in the region and converts, who suffer discrimination and hostility because of their faith, often have to move to the city or to another country to find work.
“This project has changed [the] lives of [the] converts,” said our church partner. “Our brothers and sisters have a regular job and income. They can provide for their own families. They don’t need leave home and church and move to another place of work.”
The café rents small basement facilities where food is prepared and also puts a simple tent on the market place outside where people can sit and eat what they order.
The café had to shut down temporarily because of Covid,
but it had already proved so successful that new café ventures are planned, providing more work for Christian converts.