Partners Worldwide Leads Charge to End World Poverty Through Business People’s Expertise

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Doug Seebeck225Doug Seebeck is president of Partners Worldwide.Doug Seebeck knows when Christians hear the word “ministry” many often think of pastors, evangelists and missionaries. Businesspeople usually are not in that mix.

“I’ve talked to businesspeople who feel their job is to plant their feet in pews, write a check and stay out of the way,” said Seebeck. “But business is a calling from God.”

A global movement

Seebeck, president of Cascade-based Partners Worldwide, is convinced businesspeople can be used in a productive way to provide solutions to eliminate poverty.

That goal is accomplished through mentors who provide business advice, capital and advocacy to help small and medium businesses grow and thus create jobs in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America — 24 countries so far — all with an eye on ending poverty.

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According to Seebeck, 70 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas and thus, the majority are involved in small-scale farming. Advising these farmers so they’re successful is key to abolishing abject poverty.


“We’re unlocking the poor’s potential, giving them access to funds and resources, removing obstacles and fulfilling their God-given talent,” said Seebeck. “Business is a community activity in the true sense of the word. Very few people can be successful alone.”

God is real now

“People have told me, as long as the souls of the poor are saved, they’re destined to remain poor,” said Seebeck. “And too many Christians feel like it was their destiny to be poor. I tell people that Jesus gave us abundant life, physically and spiritually. God is real now.”

Partners Worldwide accomplishes this goal by through partnerships that link North American businesspeople with entrepreneurs in Africa, Asia and Latin America to create solutions for economic growth.

Leading the charge

Emerging entrepreneurs in developing countries are then trained and mentored, with the goal of creating jobs and eliminating poverty so they can support their families. Such a goal is linked with working with locally established loan institutions to help fund emerging businesses and supporting policies that pave the way for a more level playing field for businesses in developing countries.

“Business people are the key to being not just at the table but leading the charge,” said Seebeck.

Partners Worldwide is an outreach of a group of Christian businesspeople who visited a community development project in 1994 in Kenya run by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (now known as World Renew) where it became clear a high rate of unemployment and under-employment affected the entire community.

This same group started an organization to encourage business and professional people to become involved in business growth and job creation in development countries.

In 1997, Partners for Christian Development was established within the CRWRC.

In 2005, its name was changed to Partners Worldwide to better reflect is mission.

In 2009, Partners Worldwide moved into its new headquarter facility which serves as its global service center. It is now an independent business ministry, but continues to partner with the World Renew.

Today, an average 57 business affiliates have created nearly 7,000 new jobs and have helped client businesses and farms sustain 44,572 jobs that support families and transform lives through 203 international mentors and 368 local mentors who give of their time and talents.

Looking ahead, Partners Worldwide is working to launch what Seebeck has dubbed Vision 2020. Its big-picture goals include mobilizing 100-plus partnerships that use business as the way to end poverty and as a catalyze for creating jobs in communities of high unemployment and poverty around the globe.

“They’re global by design but regional hubs so they’re self-sustaining,” said Seebeck. “Well see emergent communities with abundant life, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
About:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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