Int’l (MNN) – While uncertainty is always a factor in global work, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional challenges. Small businesses have been hit especially hard by restrictions.
For years FARMS International has helped Christians grow small businesses into sustainable sources of income through microcredit loans. In turn these businesses support their communities and the local church. But as with many small businesses this year, some FARMS programs have faced challenges with the pandemic.
However, FARMS continues to support and train small business owners from afar and through the local church. And against all odds some programs continue to grow. For instance, rural agricultural and livestock businesses generally are doing well. A few have seen the price of their goods drop as economies struggle to keep up with the pandemic, but overall their products are still in demand.
However, programs that depend on face-to-face consumers are struggling, and have been for months.
Scott Clifton, Executive Director with FARMS International says, “Even as restrictions lift in some places, there’s still this fear that we might be hiring the person who’s going to bring COVID to our family, and that type of thing. And because of that fear, it’s really difficult for day laborers still.”
FARMS entrepreneurs who work in cities are finding it especially challenging to keep their businesses afloat. If they own a bicycle taxi for instance, they are having a hard time finding customers. Fewer people are traveling or are willing to be in close contact with someone else. Clifton says that the same holds for other day laborers like carpenters or people who do housework.
“People in these positions are kind of on the fringes, not always having a secure source of income, and all the things that follow: food and education, those types of things,” Clifton says. “And so, when it’s difficult even under normal circumstances, you can imagine the stress that’s added to life wondering if you’ll be able to find work that day or not.”
The teams at FARMS continue to support, encourage, and work with their entrepreneurs with day laboring businesses. The goal is still that they will be able to find work.
FARMS also sees the opportunity to bless additional entrepreneurs as unemployment rises in some areas. God willing they can come alongside additional people as they face difficult situations and help them find a sustainable way forward.
Supporting the Church
For many in the West, the challenges of a day laborer are foreign. Pandemic life is becoming fairly normal. Routines are set and followed. Yet, for many Christian brothers and sisters around the world survival is a daily challenge.
Clifton encourages the Church to stay alert and in prayer. “For one, I think if we’re just mindful that this is still having a big impact around the world. Two is to be praying for all the people who are in these tough situations, praying that God shows us how we plug in. And then three, you’re exactly right, the ministry of FARMS goes on. We’re very passionate about addressing the source of the issues by giving people opportunities for their own income.”
Pray that God would bless current FARMS loans recipients and also give FARMS leadership wisdom as they invest in new programs.
Learn more about FARMS and how you can support them here.
(Header Photo Courtesy of FARMS International)