Mission Corner

Micro-enterprise and the Diocese of Southern Ohio

During the past year, there has been some ‘buzz’ about the possibility of the Diocese of Southern Ohio embarking on a partnership with churches in the arena of micro-enterprise. It is important to note that we are using the term micro-enterprise (as opposed to micro-lending). The goal of the diocese in this conversation is to enliven the ministries of congregations, particularly in the Appalachian region of southern Ohio, with opportunities to engage in partnerships with agencies that help entrepreneurs begin successful and sustainable business enterprise.

Often the needs of the business owner have little to do with funding, and a lot to do with technical support: writing a business plan, understanding and developing business financial reports, referrals for access to capital investment partners, and much more. Our congregations are full of individuals equipped to offer such technical assistance. And many of our church buildings have spaces that could serve as a place for a small business incubator. The type of partnerships and resources available in a micro-enterprise endeavor have the potential to bring new energy to congregations and remind us all that we need to ‘turn inside out’ and become more connected to our community context.

Many thanks to the Rev. Ron Dower and the Rev. Sallie Schisler, both of whom did a great deal of research in 2013 to discover what organizations might be good partners, and what resources Episcopal and Lutheran churches might offer the micro-enterprise community. With the encouragement of the diocesan partners at the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, we are continuing to explore how the Diocese of Southern Ohio can engage this mission field.

Anne Reed serves as the Canon for Mission in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact her at areed@diosohio.org.