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 Award. It recognizes those micro-entrepreneurs having the greatest impact in their families, communities, and churches, and communities. This page provides an archive of some of the Lydia Award recipients from many years ago. In those years, these microentrepreneurs have become somewhat of “legends” in the PEER family as we celebrate the impact they have had on their families, communities, and churches. How we thank God for them!
Dionnie sought justice, but it was extremely elusive. He had been wrongfully accused and convicted of murder and sentenced to a Filipino jail. Ten years would pass before a court retried his case and found Dionnie innocent. The taste of freedom was sweet, but the road ahead anything but easy. Dionnie found one organization, CCT, that believed in him and trusted him with a series of microloans. He had actually learned better farming while in prison – now he could grow his farm with access to capital. He purchased water pumps and other equipment he needed. The growth led him to hire two full-time and ten part-time workers. He’s sent all of his children to university. He is a man who celebrates God’s commitment to justice and mercy, and a man who rejoices that he can now join God in extending His goodness to many.
Maria cannot read or write – today, she is sending her children to university! This transformation was made possible through Maria’s hard work and the services she received from Vida Nueva, the microfinance arm of Potter’s House. Maria grew up in the Western Highlands and moved to Guatemala City. She married, but her husband died suddenly and she was left raising three young children. She did everything she could, including working in the garbage dump, to provide for them. Eventually she saved enough to pursue her dream of having her own tortilla making business. Vida Nueva helped her grow that business – even employing four women today. Maria has brought up her children living in sufficiency and with dignity, and she has donated land she owned back in the Highlands to build a library and clinic!
Minda and her family were struggling. Her husband was sick and they couldn’t afford the treatment. She was selling ice cream from a pushcart, not being treated fairly by her boss and being sexually molested by male customers. She knew God had a better plan for their lives. She dreamed of starting her own ice cream business, making much more delicious ice cream, and treating her employees with respect, so with loan capital, encouragement, and lots of prayer support from The Center for Community Transformation, that’s what she set out to do, and she excelled! Now Minda has one of the largest ice cream businesses in her city, she has created many jobs, she has become known and respected for her extreme generosity to her church and community, and her family is getting the healthcare they need.
Maria was born a block away from one of the largest dumps in Latin America. Life was never easy. She was widowed in her 30s and lost her son to a violent death, but Maria was a fighter. She started a recycling business that grew with access to loan capital, encouragement, and prayer support from Vida Nueva, the microfinance arm of Potter’s House. Over time, she employed over ten people purchasing recyclable materials from over forty suppliers and selling to forty recycling centers. She was able to purchase a truck to transport her goods and eventually opened many other businesses, including a food stall. Now Maria provides for her extended family, supports her local church, and is respected by all in her garbage dump community – in fact, she has inspired and mentored many of them to pursue their own dreams.
Like many in Sri Lanka, Wickneswary grew up in the midst of civil war. Eventually she married and had a son. However, money was tight, so after their son turned two years old, her husband went abroad to find work. She never heard from him again. Stunned by her loss and forced to provide for herself and her infant son, Wickneswary invested her time and energy into the tailoring business she had started. Capital from YGro-HEED enabled her to buy more sewing machines. She even opened a second seamstress shop and employed five other women. She has gone from being a burden to her family to being the one providing for her parents and sisters. Her son, now a teenager, will have a much brighter future, as will many others – Wickneswary has provided seamstress training to 40 young women who could not complete their formal education, with many of them now running small seamstress businesses of their own.
Joel and Angel Venus began trading tuna with a little over $100 borrowed from a cousin. Over time, thanks to capital from CCT/Philippines, their tuna processing business employed 20 individuals, serving about 30 wholesale buyers, and earning a monthly profit of over $1,500. Joel and Angel buy tuna residue (the head, jaws, skin, fins, belly, and tail of the fish) to sell to wholesale buyers. They also process tuna into easy-to-cook products. Joel and Angel are close followers of Jesus and have blessed others given the many ways God has blessed them. They give generously to their church, lead church fundraising drives, and even provided capital and equipment for their pastor to open an ice cream shop. They have educated their children, provided a means for 30 families in their neighborhood to access affordable water, and enabled their 20 employees to be the breadwinners in their families.
Analyn’s father was a farmer and he wanted Analyn to go to school only long enough to read and write. Analyn had other plans. She established a successful business, but then her mother’s stroke depleted the business’s assets. Analyn turned to CCT to help her rebuild her business, starting with a $100 micro-loan. Now, many microloans worth thousands of dollars later, she has a pizza and meryenda (snack) shop that is very successful! She grew her business to sell almost 500 pizzas each day and generates thousands of dollars in monthly profits. While her business was growing, Analyn’s hunger for spiritual things was as well, and she decided to become a follower of Jesus. The little girl who was told she would only get enough education to read and write has in one generation established a family where her children already have or are pursuing university degrees.
Richard is an innovator. His successful cassava processing business started with his relationship with the cassava farmers: He helped them choose a sweeter, more popular variety of cassava, get the tools needed to succeed in farming, and bought their crop early, before it ripened, ensuring a sale for the farmers but also allowing him to get the crop at a cheaper price. With many microloans from CAFECC, Richard’s business began to thrive. He eventually employed 11 people, including young adults who were school drop-outs, students looking to earn money for school fees, and housewives and mothers looking to supplement their meager family income. His spiritual and business growth have allowed him to contribute regularly and much more generously to his church, to buy a sound system for the youth program, and to devote time discipling the young people. God has found a faithful and gifted son in Richard, and the people of Northern Uganda are being blessed.
When Alex Edoma began his construction supply business, he had very little money and had to borrow tools in order to do his work. His business had capital of $150. Then he found out that he could get microloans from CAFECC. With these microloans, Alex has been able to expand his workforce, his product offerings, and the capital in his business. Eventually Alex employed 11 people and began 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. With a strong business, Alex has been able to voluntarily install culverts on bad roads and started a preschool to help 30+ children in his community.