By Bruce Main, President
When Jeff Peterson asked to accompany me on a trip to Malawi 2 years ago, I knew God was up to something significant. It did not take long to realize we shared a desire to develop a viable businesses solution in economically impoverished communities. Bringing this in to fruition entails merging Jeff's business talents and philanthropic passion with the UrbanPromise International's vision.
Jeff's day job is owner and operator of the iconic Geoffrey's Restaurant of Malibu, consistently ranked as one of the most picturesque and fine dining places off the California Coast. Perched on the seaside cliffs of Malibu, overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean. Geoffrey’s is home to Jeff, a self-built entrepreneur. His vision for kindness and truth is embodied in his restaurant and staff.
Many Hollywood celebrities, entertainers, international dignitaries, politicians are regular patrons that enjoy the peaceful surroundings and escapism that Geoffrey’s offers.
Jeff’s charities and charitable causes, helping others achieve their goals, providing people with an opportunity to live prosperous lives is extremely close to Jeff’s heart.
"In my youth I thought life was an all you can eat pie eating contest," he confesses. "But no matter how much I tried to fill myself I was never satisfied." So what is Jeff's remedy for perpetual consumption? "Helping others achieve their goals, and dreams is what I believe is God's purpose for my life."
As Jeff walked through Malawian villages, having the visual and talking to young leaders, villages where families exist on less than a dollar a day, this wrenching at Jeff’s heart strings, he asked himself what he could do to for these families and children to prosper? What kind of businesses could turn a profit and become an economic force for good in the community?
Currently Jeff works with a couple of Malawian leaders who desire to create viable businesses. Using his own money, Jeff has provided the start-up capital to launch a chicken business and a corn mill. Both projects are with Urban Promise International and affiliated ministries. These endeavors are particularly exciting as Jeff can also provide guidance and mentoring for these young entrepreneurs from the ground up.
"Much of my success can be attributed to others taking the time and energy mentoring me in business," adds Jeff. "In turn I find great happiness giving back to others."
Jeff is now challenging other business men and women to use their talents to help others break the cycle of poverty. Charitable gifts are critical and important, but making investments in viable businesses can provide long term resources for families and communities.
I was born into a family of three, and I lost my parents while still young. My dad died when I was 9 and my mom when I was 16. Life became hard and I lost all hope of continuing with school. I finally got a chance to go to school because family members and other well-wishers agreed to pay my tuition fees. However, my sister never got the opportunity because she was a girl child. I was given the opportunity because I am a man and my community valued me as someone who would have more to offer something to the community and family than my sister who would one day get married. My sister is now 23 and did not finish even high school. She can’t get a job, and she can’t go back to high school because of her age. Seeing the struggle my sister has gone through gave me a passion to help women in my community.
I believe women in Malawi should have an equal opportunity to go to school, have food, and have shelter just like any other man can have,
Voices Awake Organization is creating that platform, and it’s a privilege to be part of the change.
This November, I was approved by the UPI board to launch Voices Awake Ventures. This is a social enterprise that will use a mini bus business to provide financial support to Voices Awake Organization.
I believe business is a good tool for the sustainability of Voices Awake Organization. I am passionate about business and ministry. I have got over five years of experience in the Public transportation business in Malawi, and I want to use the same experience as a ministry at Voices Awake. Voices Awake Organization believes in sustainability to achieve its full potential and effectiveness.
This is important because with this enterprise, Voices Awake would be able to support its programs including:
• Paying tuition fees for the girls in the girl empowerment program
• Providing food for the girls living at the Voices Awake Girls home
• Paying salaries to the staff
• Providing Micro-loans to women
The potiential of this enterprise is exciting! Not only could this enterprise bless Voices Awake, but when this model proves successful, it could be a tool for our other UPI ministries in Malawi to join in and build a more sustainable source of revenue for their ministries.
It will take $25 000 to launch this enterprise and buy the mini buses. If you are interested in supporting this venture or talking to me about it, I’d love to meet with you.