Clean Water, a Family Business, and New Found Hope

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Elizabeth, mother of three young boys, never had the money for school supplies, uniforms or entrance fees at the beginning of the school year. Each fall, she was saddened by her situation for not being able to provide the basics for her children.

Her family of five sleeps in the same room of their two-room house in the eastern part of the Dominican Republic, and her husband works hard each day as a carpenter, making doors and cabinets for local businesses. Her boys, ages 4-8, can be found chasing each other and their chickens around their small plot of land. “My family has always worked very hard but there never seemed to be enough money to really thrive as a family of five,” said Elizabeth.

Given the Opportunity
Just a year ago, Elizabeth’s church asked her to consider taking on a small business to bring additional income to her family. Consuelo Christian Bible Church (IBCC) has a water filtration system that is selling over 2500 gallons of clean drinking water each day to their local community. After purchasing a delivery truck with their profits, the church had an idea to create income-generating opportunities for needy members of their congregation and also expand the impact of their low-cost water. They specifically wanted to give people who didn’t have much opportunity to make money the chance: the disabled, the elderly, the mom who was tied to the home all day.

Once Elizabeth was identified as a good candidate for this project and committed to give it a try, she was provided a metal rack to sit on her small front concrete stoop to hold 60 5-gallon bottles of water. The church planned to deliver the water whenever she needed more of it. The sale of each water bottle would provide her a five peso profit, or 12 cents. Each time Elizabeth sold a whole rack, she would be able to make $7.20 for her family, which is two days’ minimum wage in the Dominican Republic.

Immediate Success
Much to Elizabeth’s surprise, her small business took off immediately. Her neighbors quickly found the water was quality, has excellent taste, was very accessible to them and had a significantly lower price than any other seller in their area. “Since the very beginning, I have been calling the manager of the church’s water system at least three times a week to refill the cages with water bottles,” she said.

A Mother Filled with Pride
She has been selling water for 18 months now and can provide for her children in ways she wasn’t able to before. The boys have uniforms, books and never have to worry when small additional costs come up during the school year. Elizabeth is able to continue with all of the essential tasks of being a mother at home and also make much needed money at the same time.   She is a mother filled with pride, thankfulness and satisfaction – which might be the biggest difference of all.

Celebration of Hope Background
During Celebration of Hope 2009, the theme was water, and many water filtration systems were installed throughout Latin America and Africa. The Dominican Republic was one place where these systems have grown significantly and are thriving. Local churches began to wonder how they could maximize the potential of their water systems, and began to place racks in distant parts of their neighborhoods and villages. This worked extremely well, not only beginning to sell more water as a church, but began to provide micro-business opportunities for their church members. Through these efforts, most families can earn $600-1200, which is significant income.

Today ten churches have begun to distribute water in this way with a total of 244 water distribution businesses which have been developed through these efforts. The potential of this micro-business model is still just beginning. Much more expansion still exists for these 10 churches and countless additional churches lined up to begin to do the same in their communities.

Category : Celebration of Hope, Global Connections

Comments

WOW!! What a Great story … I work with new entrepreneurs all of the time and it is so rewarding to see people get in to a business and achieve success and growth both financially and personally.

I was so encouraged to read of Elizabeth’s success in developing her water delivery business in to something that is making such a huge difference in the quality of life for her and her family.

We serve a mighty God who continually amazes me in delivering blessings to others through the hands of His people.

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