Group of leaders, volunteers and church members pose for a photo during an entrepreneurship workshop led by the church and supported by the state’s mayoral office in Baranoa in the Atlantic coast, in North Colombia, on Aug. 15, 2021. More than 100 church members received training, in-person and online, on how to start and grow a business so they can support their families during the economic challenges during the pandemic. [Photo: Albeniz Mercado]

September 8, 2021 | Barranquilla, Colombia | Daniella Arrieta and IAD News Staff

Dozens of Seventh-day Adventists from throughout the Atlantic coast of Colombia recently benefitted from specialized entrepreneurship workshops to assist them in providing for their families during the pandemic.

“We wanted to help families to reactivate their economic situation with entrepreneurship projects in the context of the economic crisis that the pandemic brought on in our country,” said Pastor Gamaliel Fandiño, leader of the Sabana District which includes Baranoa, Galapa, Candelaria and other municipalities.

Gamaliel Fandiño, pastor of the Sabana district speaks during the workshop at the Filadelphia Adventist Church in Barranquilla, Colombia, [Photo: Albeniz Mercado]

The program included the development of skills and acquisition of tools to help the entrepreneurs to carry out their projects successfully, thanks to the support of the Baranoa’s mayor’s office and the National Learning Service (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje or SENA), said Fandiño. “Both state entities contributed through training and project follow-ups by the leadership of Wilmer Barandica, development director of SENA in the region, and Giselle Polo, adviser for entrepreneurship and tourism in Baranoa,” added Fandiño.

“We have been leading many projects which have brought great results so far this year,” said Polo. “Our banner project is to support the entrepreneurship projects and business ideas with advice, strategies, market study and financing with microcredits,” she said.

The event allowed participants to come up with business opportunities and move their ideas forward, as well as come up with entrepreneurship proposals.

Giselle Polo, adviser for entrepreneurship and tourism in Baranoa, speaks during the training session encouraging participants on entrepreneurship projects and business ideas, strategies, and how to grow their business.  [Photo: Albeniz Mercado]

“The culture of entrepreneurship is fundamental to work in our business ideas,” said Barandica. “Through entrepreneurship, we can achieve an economic reactivation and generate a project for life.”

Some 50 members met up at the Filandelfia Adventist Church in Baranoa, while 100 more families took part in the online training program of Aug. 15, 2021. At the end of the full day of entrepreneurship training, participants received products and financial support to assist with their selected projects and business ideas.

The program was also overseen by the church leadership of the Atlantic Colombian Conference.

Most needy families were selected among the 10 Adventist congregations in the district to be part in the specialized entrepreneurship projects which included welding, small beauty shops, mini grocery stands, and more.

A church member receives goods to sell in this mini market stand. [Photo: Albeniz Mercado]

Rafael Machado Bohórquez, said he had been working in his welding shop for one year and he needed more support.  “I thank God for the resources provided and I know that it will help me move forward,” said Machado. “The church helped me with a welding machine since the one I was using is more of a handcrafted kind, and now this new machine has all the technical characteristics that allows me to work more efficiently and professionally.”

Depending on each project or micro enterprise, the church assisted with money as well as supplies, said pastor Fandiño.  “If a church member needed a welding and polishing machine, we would provide those tools. For another church member who has a beauty business with her husband, we assisted in giving her supplies so she could sell them.”

It was all about entrepreneurship and giving out tools, supplies and assistance to the members so they can grow their business and support their families,” said Pastor Josue Torres, president of the church in the Atlantic Colombian Conference. “It’s important to receive a spiritual blessing, but beside the spiritual blessing our Father also has a special benefit in our life,” he said.

A member signs in to the project before receiving beauty supplies for her new small business.[Photo: Albeniz Mercado]

Torres said that leaders are looking forward to seeing members reactivate their economic situation in the region and projects like these can be replicated across other districts across the church in North Colombia.

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