The new online platform features the opportunity for student literature evangelists, or colporters, to sell books towards paying for their tuition at Montemorelos University and other Adventist universities across the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mexico. [Photo: Emprendum UM]

May 28, 2020 | Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, Mexico | Laura Marrero/ IAD News Staff

A new online platform will provide hundreds of students enrolled at Adventist universities in Mexico an opportunity to earn money toward their education every year. The platform was launched earlier this month thanks to a group of professionals at Adventist-owned Montemorelos University.

Every year, student literature evangelists, or colporters, work during summer vacation and on weekends during the school year, selling more than 60,000 Adventist books to nearly one million families throughout 500 cities in Mexico. Their profits go toward their tuition, university leaders said. Sales and earnings are processed through the Montemorelos University and GEMA Editores of Mexico, one of two publishing houses in the Inter-American Division (IAD).

The project began a little over two years ago with the intention of reaching a social media demographic not tapped into before, said Carlos Gastelum, director of the university literature evangelist program at the university, which is called Emprendum.

List of books offered through the Emprendum website. [Photo: Emprendum UM website]

“I believe that God led us [with this project] for this situation,” said Gastelum. “He took us from our comfort zones to prepare us to target for this need online. Even though we did not visualize a pandemic situation like this, God in His providence led us to start this project and complete it to be utilized in these circumstances.”

The first of its kind

This is a first-of-its-kind platform for student colporters conceived and created in the IAD, said Pastor Ervin González, publishing ministries director for the church in Inter-America. González has been part of the process of leading and working with the five regional unions and Adventist universities in Mexico, as well as GEMA editors, from the beginning of this project.

“The sales of student colporting represent a big part of the publishing ministry throughout Mexico and it was so important for the engineers and IT specialists at Montemorelos to provide this opportunity to tap into the virtual business, more so now,” said González.   “The church in Mexico, in Inter-America and the Adventist world church all see it as another step toward impacting those online, on social media and connecting with many who need to find hope through Adventist books and literature.”

Carlos Gastelum, director of the university literature evangelist program called Emprendum at Montemorelos University, said there are more than 500 student colporters registered on the new platform. [Photo: Emprendum UM]

How it works

The new platform at emprendum.um.edu.mx includes information about the colporting program, a virtual store and a list of participating students with their personal link, as well as testimonials. Anyone visiting the page can purchase books by choosing any of the more than 500 students currently registered in the university, explained Gastelum. Once the purchase is made through the platform, the shipping process is sent from the campus Emprendum group.

Students enrolled at Adventist-owned Linda Vista University in Chiapas, and the Southeast Adventist Institute in Mérida, can also take part in the colporting program through the platform.

It’s still an adjustment in many ways, said Sarai Prado, a second-year communication and media student at Montemorelos. She is part of the Emprendum group at Montemorelos and was glad to be able to use it to sell books, since it’s difficult now during the pandemic. “When I found out I couldn’t do my usual colporting I started to think that I had to look for another way to finance my education,” said Prado. But now she’s happy that although at least she can send a message, a link to her contacts. “Even though it may be a big challenge this way, we can adapt by using our creativity and means of communication. That’s the challenge,” Prado said. “I believe that we needed this tool to get to those persons that we could not reach in the traditional way of colporting.”

Sarai Prado, a student colporter and member of Emprendum leading group teaches on a book on her Facebook page. [Photo: Facebook]

Just like in traditional colporting and in virtual colporting, university students are not alone, said Gastelum. Students are guided through the process by a team of leaders and teachers with the support of parents alumni and friends of the institution who can be part of supporting so many students through the platform.

Gastelum reported that as of last week, more than 200 sales had been done through the new platform.

Plans ahead

The new platform software has been shared with several Adventist universities throughout the IAD, including Colombia Adventist University, which launched a customized version of the platform for their student colporters last week, González reported.

A group of student colporters pose for a photo after getting packages ready to ship to book owners across Mexico. [Photo: Emprendum UM]

“We are looking forward to evaluating how students are doing with the platform, improving the process and serving this summer and through the fall semester,” said González. “We look to also making it available for our literature evangelists as well.”

To learn more about the Emprendum’s online platform, visit emprendum.um.edu.mx

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