Success stories from around the world prove that micro-enterprise development strategies lead to effective (read “sustainable”) economic development. These simple, usually one-person operations meet immediate cash-generation needs and can lift whole families out of poverty.
Integra’s MED operations historically have served in Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Russia. Personnel provide straightforward training on the basics of inventory, marketing, and financial management for interested candidates. During the sessions, those interested complete a business plan which, if approved, allows them to access loan funds to implement the business.
The kinds of businesses launched include open-air market stalls offering products such as vegetables, clothing, cheese, and flowers. Successful operations eventually move to permanent shops as they expand, offering employment to more people and a wider variety of goods.
A key to Integra’s success has been the dedicated mentoring of clients following the launch of a business. Again and again businesses that do not have ongoing support from staff fail as the pressure of running the operation overwhelms the new entrepreneur.
Another important part of Integra’s programs is the faith component. Given the staff perspective which places a relationship with the God of the Bible at the center of life and work, clients are challenged to see their business fitting into its proper place in the wider context of their lives.
This faith dimension to Integra’s development is an important factor in success. The concern for the whole person which Integra staff demonstrate goes to the heart of why the organization exists.