by Kristen Allen, Director of Community Development
At Mission Adelante we began talking and praying seriously about how individual transformation could become community transformation in the fall of 2011. As we explored how Mission Adelante can help make a community impact through empowering our immigrant friends and working in partnership to address the needs of our community, others were dreaming too. Two Bhutanese refugees dreamed of opening a store to meet the cultural needs of their community and approached Mission Adelante to share their vision and ask for guidance.
We looked through our network and found volunteers willing to collaborate on this business venture. A successful business owner saw the potential for individual and community transformation and came forward to provide technical assistance to the two entrepreneurs. Another Mission Adelante volunteer encouraged the entrepreneurs and assisted with various activities including using a box truck to go and pick-up store fixtures the entrepreneurs found through their own network. The Bhutanese community pooled money together to help make a down payment on the building. A long-time supporter of Mission Adelante used his business to finish furnishing fixtures in the store. And on December 9, 2012, R.G. Asian store opened at 101 S. 18th Street in Kansas City, Kansas. When God’s people work together it can be a powerful, transformative thing.
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Thanks to R.G. Asian Store, our Bhutanese friends now have access to culturally appropriate and familiar food, clothing, and other products. Customer service is a high priority, and when Bhutanese refugees ask for a new item the owners work through their network in the US and Nepal until the item is on the shelves of their store.
The store owners’ contributions to the Bhutanese community go deeper than providing cultural items -- they also focus on the needs of the Bhutanese teens. R.G. Asian store supports the KC (BEST) Bhutanese Ekata Soccer Team and encourages the young men to be responsible and hard-working. Recognizing that the Bhutanese teens face the challenges of every teen (high school, fitting in, becoming independent, etc.) and the additional struggles faced by newcomers trying to integrate into a new culture, R.G. Asian created a space in the building behind the store where teens can hang out and play games like ping-pong so the teens have a positive outlet and are less likely to get mixed up in less desirable activities like gangs. Our friends at R.G. Asian Store remind us that business can make a community impact.
We hope to build on this experience and further develop a model of for equipping and coaching entrepreneurs through our emerging Adelante Business Coaching ministry. We envision those passionate about business sharing their skills with immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs and a coaching environment where individuals on both side of the mentoring relationship are contributing, learning, and growing. This is not an effort to “do for” - it is an effort of partnership to “do with” in a spirit of collaboration and dedication to the community.
Do you want to dive deeper into how businesses can make a Kingdom impact? Learn more about Business as Mission at Ignite 2013: A Workshop for Developing Business for Kingdom Impact on July 20th. Read more about the workshop here: /missionadelante/2013/06/ignite-2013-workshop-on-developing.html and register for this event that coincides with the formation of Adelante Business Coaching.