“My sense of your visits was that they were divinely appointed, though initially I didn’t know why. From my perspective you were part of an answer to prayer about going global.” From one of my new friends in Zimbabwe in this morning’s email.

Mark isĀ an entrepreneur that I visited a couple times. We have spent formal and informal time together discussing his business and dreams. Mark is launching his business at great personal cost and with significant risks. He could loose everything! However, he remains good-natured and generous. He trusts God, loves people, and desires to be part of a rebounding Zimbabwean economy. He is not looking for a handout. All he wants is a fair shake. Often it seems that all circumstances are stacked against his success. So, when someone comes along who is on his side he embraces that person and soaks up all the encouragement, knowledge, and wisdom available.

Like Mark, initially I was unsure how I could help him. I don’t have any personal experience in his industry and I certainly don’t have any inside knowledge about the direction of the Zimbabwean government. I do have management experience, so I helped him with some organizational structure and human resource issues. Nevertheless, it was not immediately obvious how my time with his organization was worth me traveling all the way there.

We have continued to communicate since I returned home and it is evident that my greatest contribution is encouragement. Mark needs someone credible to believe in him. Even with my lack of experience in his industry, I have been able to encourage him to make some organizational changes and to dream bigger. He had hit a bit of a wall, but now he is moving forward again.

Even if I play only a small part in the success of Mark’s business, my investment will have been worth it. Mark’s success will enable a growing number of Zimbabwean breadwinners to feed their families, which will encourage Zimbabwean agriculture, which will ripple through the entire economy. Of course, many small businesses like Mark’s must succeed for there to be a large-scale economic renewal. Mark is a start.