It Doesn’t Have to Be a Business

For some of us, and for various reasons, starting a business is not in the cards. There is no doubt that launching and running a business requires a lot of work, and often it can be tedious and not all that glamorous. The heavy lifting required to get a project off the ground is often intimidating on its own, and if you are doing this in the congregational or community development non-profit context, it can be very daunting with all the other responsibilities begging for your time and attention. 

And that’s okay! I tell people all the time…it doesn’t have to be a business. If the potential for impact and transformation that enterprise and economic development carries with it is intriguing to you and your team, but you don’t have the bandwidth to launch a business, I encourage you to consider other ways you can engage this work without launching something. 

Recently, CovEnterprises wrapped up a pilot grant project we were calling the Matthew 25 challenge. Taking the parables of the talents and the sheep and goats, we said what if we freed up a small amount of funds for a team from an ECC congregation to put to use in an entrepreneurial way for the sake of those on the margins of their community. These projects had to be very limited in scope because the funds were in the form of micro-grants. These projects also had to be time bound, in that they couldn’t be an indefinite project. Both of these factors gave us the opportunity to encourage experimentation in enterprise and entrepreneurial concepts and we were really excited with the ideas that came up. 

There was a micro loan entrepreneurship project in a low income high-rise in Pittsburgh, a farming collective working alongside Kenyan immigrants in Massachusetts, a community based entertainment company seed grant in Washington state, a tuck pointing project working with youth on the West side of Chicago, and a fitness studio beta test in Long Beach, CA. 

All of these projects were developed by teams of passionate people in Covenant congregations and can function without launching a fully self-supporting business infrastructure. Some are more formal, with a desire to see long term sustainability, but all of them are learning as they go, tailoring their project as they gain new insight.

We are thrilled with these results and if you and your team are interested in something like this please reach out to us, we’d be happy to walk you through the process. 

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a business!

About Adam Gustine

Adam Gustine leads CovEnterprises for Love Mercy Do Justice and the Evangelical Covenant Church. He is also the founder of Jubilee Ventures; an economic incubator in South Bend, IN. He and his wife, Ann, live in South Bend with their three kids.

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