Microbusiness in Albania
It’s hard to talk about the hope we have in Jesus without doing something to help people who are in desperate need. In the bleak economic climate of Albania, missionaries Nathan and Cydil Waggoner and their Albanian teammates are doing what they can to help people make better lives for themselves through microbusinesses.
The economic situation for many Albanians is reaching a desperate level. The unemployment rate for college graduates is nearly 50 percent. At one point during the recent European migrant crisis, Albanians represented the second-highest ethnic group seeking asylum in Germany. For the last two decades, a good portion of the GDP has been remittances from abroad (family members who live outside of Albania sending money back home).
In the village where Nathan and Cydil live, they see the effects on a family level. “We see a splintering of the once strong family unit as fathers leave their families for months at a time to find seasonal work, as adult children move abroad for a better financial future, and as a generation of people age without the love and security of their children and grandchildren who are now holding new passports and speaking different languages,” the Waggoners shared. “The persistent need is a form of unrelenting stress for the whole family.”
As the name implies, microbusinesses start small! Right now, the biggest project is Village Knits. The project has transitioned from a jewelry-making venture, which had a low profit margin and was split evenly among the women, to knitted items, allowing each woman to earn according to her ability, labors, and creativity. The women can work on the items throughout the year during their spare time so it doesn't take away from their ability to do other seasonal work or complete their regular domestic duties.
Produce and Dairy
Some of Nathan and Cydil’s Albanian colleagues who reside in Tirana, the capital city, endeavor to buy all of their milk, eggs, and seasonal vegetables from village neighbors. They even buy more than they personally need to resell to people in the city. It gives a little extra cash to the growers, who might have more than their families personally need, plus the growers do not have to leave the village to sell their product, allowing them to make more profit.
A little extra income can be life-changing. The women in the Village Knits project have used the money to pay utility bills that were in default, to buy carpets for their homes to keep themselves warm in the winter, and to make improvements to their homes to modernize them (like indoor plumbing) or make them more comfortable and safe. For the past two years, Village Knits sales have brought in the equivalent of about three months' salary for each knitter!
PURCHASE: Support the knitters of Village Knits by buying a knitted product. Shipping to the United States is available during select times of the year. Sign up for updates to be notified when the 2016 inventory is ready for purchase. Want to maximize your impact? Share the Village Knits store with your friends and family!
SHARE: Download this speaker outline to share microbusiness ministry in Albania with others.
GIVE: Donate yarn and buttons to the knitters. (Some yarn can be bought in Albania, but yarn available in the United States is generally superior in quality, comfort, and colors). Contact Nathan and Cydil for more information about how you can donate these supplies.