One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyratira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth.
She was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. Acts 16:14 (NIV)
Lydia was an impressive entrepreneur. Not only was she a very good businesswoman, but she was quick to use the proceeds of her business to support Paul and his missionary companions as they passed through her area. Lydia is credited by Biblical historians as one of the key people in planting the church in Europe.
In the spirit of Lydia, PEER Servants sponsors the Annual Lydia Awards and we are very pleased to announce the 2012 Lydia Award results. The stories of the three finalists are included below, and the 2012 Lydia Award winner is Alex Edoma from Northern Uganda. T. George Stanislas from Sri Lanka is the second place award winner and Nicolae Dunas from Moldova the third place award winner. We thank God for all of the Lydia Award nominees and how God is using them to extend His Kingdom around the world.
Custom Furniture Manufacturer
Not too many people get to make their favorite hobby into a thriving business. Thanks to Invest Credit, PEER Servants’ Moldovan partner, Nicolaes Dunas has been able to do that with his custom furniture making business. In 2008 Nicolaes was finding it difficult to succeed in his used car business. He noted that many people were renovating or adding on to their houses and looking for nice furniture to add that special touch. So Nicolaes decided to use skills from his hobby, woodworking, to create custom furniture that would fit in people’s homes.
Nicolaes carefully controls every aspect of the furniture-making process, from drying and staining wood to delivering the finished product to clients. As a result, his business has grown rapidly, as satisfied customers spread the word about his quality products, reasonable prices, and free delivery. His annual business income in 2008 was just over $1,000 – in 2011, it had grown to over $20,000! Nicolaes also advertises in a unique way, spreading the word to the parents of children enrolled in his side business, teaching Tai Kwan Do.
With his business growing so quickly, Nicolaes found it difficult to keep up, and had a hard time finding qualified workers. He started carefully training new employees himself in every aspect of the furniture-making process. Now he has three full-time furniture makers working for him, as well as an accountant and his wife, who handles sales and office responsibilities. Nicolaes recently purchased land on which he can build a new workshop, so that he can double the size of his business and even export furniture to nearby Romania.
However, Nicolaes’ success has not changed his main goal in life, to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ his Savior. He often preaches at his church, and his business’s profits allow him to give to the church building project. His Tae Kwon Do students know that each class will include a half hour of Bible study. And Nicolaes sees all his relationships with employees and customers as an opportunity to communicate God’s love for them.
When Alex Edoma began his construction supply business in 2006, he had very little money and had to borrow tools in order to do his work. His business had capital of $150. But Alex saw a need for construction supplies in his region of Uganda, and took a chance that he could start a business to meet that need. Alex started the business by making vents for houses being built, and quickly gained a reputation for providing a quality product.
Even with a good reputation, Alex struggled to grow his business because he could not access credit. Then he found out that he could get loans from CAFECC, PEER Servants’ Ugandan partner. With the four loans he obtained from CAFECC, Alex has been able to expand his workforce, his product offerings, and the capital in his business. Now Alex employs 11 people in general construction and in making a wide variety of concrete building materials, such as vents, balustrades, culverts, slabs, pavement sections, and fence poles. Most of Alex’s employees are young men and women who were not able to complete school. Alex gives them a fair wage and training in building skills. The capital in his business has grown from $150 to $10,000.
Alex and his employees are not the only ones who benefit from the success of his business. In addition to giving faithfully to local churches, Alex has installed culverts on roads that had been difficult to use, thus benefiting the entire community with better access to churches and markets. When Alex saw that the children in his community were struggling in school, he got involved in starting a preschool to help the children grow up in the knowledge of Christ and get the early skills they need to succeed with their education. Currently 33 children are attending preschool thanks to Alex’s business profits and His desire to use them to extend God’s Kingdom.
Now, with the help of CAFECC, Alex has expanded his business to two new locations. He has recently purchased a brick-making machine, the first of its kind in the area. In this way he hopes to further grow his business. But even with all his success, Alex remains humble, acknowledging that it all comes from God.
T. George Stanislas
T. George Stanislas knows chickens! He has a successful business in Sri Lanka, raising “broilers” - chickens to sell for cooking. However this has not always been the case. George tried his hand at fishing, but the line of work did not suit him well. He accepted temporary employment clearing land mines in his war-torn country. He also began to raise chickens as a side business, starting with 50 chickens. He quickly gained useful experience in chicken breeding, but was unable to make enough money to leave his main job clearing land mines.
In 2008 George heard that he could get loans for his business from Holistic Empowerment and Enterprise Development (HEED), PEER Servants’ partner in Sri Lanka. With his first loan from HEED George was able to increase his flock, which enabled him to leave his old job. Through the four loans he obtained from HEED, he has been able to increase the number of birds he raises to 400. Now he has 100 clients, and employs two family members in the business. His monthly profits have grown to an average of $300. He has been able to do this in spite of the country’s civil war and a cyclone that killed 100 chicks and 50 big birds just when he was starting to grow the business.
George has been able to set his business apart from his competitors via innovation and hard work. He grows his chickens for 60 days instead of the typical 42, enabling him to produce a meatier bird which brings a higher price. George grows food for his chickens to supplement what he has to buy, and sells the chickens’ droppings as fertilizer. He keeps his business open long hours to be convenient for his retail customers, then refrigerates the rest and sells it to wholesalers.
Now George has purchased more land to grow his business, and he sees a future in which he will provide for his family and be able to pay for his children’s education. But George also understands that God has blessed him so that he can be a blessing to others. He has used his expertise to train 15 people in the poultry-raising business so that they, too, can have a better future. And he uses his position as church secretary to identify people in need that he can help with the proceeds of his business. Because of George’s chickens, many people are blessed.
Online voting for the 2012 Lydia Award winner is closed. The final online voting results are below The online voting represents 25% of the overall results. This voting combined with the remainder of the voting led to the final results: Alex Edoma - 42%, T. George Stanislas - 32%, and Nicolae Dunas - 26%. Check back in the Spring of 2013 for our 2013 Lydia Award finalists and the online voting to determine our Lydia Award winner.