Under a scorching African sun, in the shadow of thundering Victoria Falls, more than 60 businesspeople from around the world gathered at the Shamwari Center in the beautiful town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, for the second annual Christian Business Development Summit (formerly Business as Mission Summit).
This multi-day conference in October focused on incorporating faith into commerce to build businesses that serve as beacons of hope to their communities.
With last year’s inaugural Christian Business Development Summit resulting in the launching of the Shamwari Association lending group, (you can read more about this exciting venture here), expectations were high for similar life-changing results from this year’s Summit.
And it didn’t disappoint. After two days of inspiring speakers, thought-provoking break-out sessions, prayer and fellowship, participants left the Summit with renewed commitments to putting their faith into action in their personal and business lives.
Opening the Summit was Quenton Marty, President of MATTER, who explained why the Summit, and much of MATTER’s work, is in Africa. “According to a recent article in the New York Times, ‘In 1950, Africans made up 8% of the world’s people. Less than a century later, they will account for one-quarter of humanity and at least one-third of all young people ages 15-24. In addition, ‘within the next decade, Africa will have the world’s largest workforce surpassing China and India.’ I believe God has a special plan for Africa and I cannot be more humbled to be a part of it. We’re here for the next two days because we want to see the world, and especially Africa, shaped by godly leaders who care about other people.”
In addition to MATTER founder, Megan Doyle, and several donors who spoke, Simba Musiyiwa, local pastry chef and one of last year’s participants, shared the inspiring story of how his life has changed over the course of the year. A chef for over 15 years, Simba and his wife had come back to Victoria Falls in 2018 to start their own bakery. They were working toward that goal when the pandemic hit and everything in Victoria Falls came to a standstill for three years. In a truly desperate financial situation, Simba arrived at last year’s Summit with little hope for the future, “I was at a point where I wanted to give up. But you don’t know where hope, where salvation, is going to come from.”
Simba’s hope and salvation came from the loan he received from the Shamwari Association. With money to finally start his own business, things turned around quickly. Securing the perfect location for his bakery, he was able to purchase the equipment and hire employees. Opening this summer, Simba’s bakery has already become a destination spot for tourists and locals. His biggest problem now is trying to keep up with the daily demand for his mouth-watering breads and pastries.
The success of his bakery has Simba’s hopes running high. He’s now dreaming of opening a culinary school to train the next generation of chefs and bakers. “I guess it’s a God-thing. Not a guess; I know. Once stuff started happening, it was just like an avalanche. The last six months have been a phenomenal ride. We had been in a dry season, and all of the sudden, rain. And a lot of it.”
Business owner, Lexi D’Almeida, who came from the capital city of Harare, left the Summit encouraged for far more than just the future of the business community in Zimbabwe, “The conference gave me hope for humanity. In a world filled with so much darkness, the conference was a ray of light. Seeing how just a handful of people are able to change the trajectory of so many lives through their positive deeds made me believe there is still good in humanity, and we can make a difference.”
First time attendee, Dave Peterson, Senior Vice President of Business Banking at Tradition Capital Bank in Minneapolis, was inspired by the conference and his visits to the MATTER projects around Victoria Falls. “It is an incredible experience to be surrounded by inspirational leaders and like-minded people who want to serve and save. The people we met are all leaders in the ways they choose to serve. Meeting them and hearing their stories and the good they are doing fills my heart and motivates me to do more, be more for others and serve every day in every way.”
Serving others is at the heart of everything we do at MATTER. It’s also at the heart of this season of giving. Find meaningful and unique gifts that will serve and impact others all year long. Shop our MATTER Giving Catalog today!
Hear encouraging messages from some of the Summit’s speakers and be inspired to serve others in your community!