The Charis Project is developing a globally replicable model for homes for at-risk children that create sustainability by means of ethical and internal profitability. The homes operate a selection of “family businesses.” Traditionally a family business is a trade or a specialty in commerce, such as farming or weaving, making barrels or running a dry cleaning shop, that supplies the economic needs of the family. It is something that the family as a whole engages in. Because there is little distinction between the family and the business, the children grow up in the business, learning the skills, operations, details and ethos of the business. A child who grew up on a farm, even if not specifically trained to be a farmer, knows that farming is a workable choice. A child raised around successful businesses learns possibilities that he or she wouldn’t without it.
We don’t want to raise just farmers or weavers. Rather, we want to equip young entrepreneurs who can confidently go out into the world and create; create jobs for farmers and weavers, create new solutions to the problems they find and create hope for their community.
The types of businesses selected by a particular home are based on assessment of the situation of the actual home. Businesses generate profits essential for the home to thrive. The children grow up in and learn the family business. However, the family business is not a specific type of business that the home operates. Rather, the family business is to run successful, sustainable, responsible businesses of all kinds in actual communities.
The Charis Home will be the engine of the transformation of its surrounding community, in part, by establishing and managing businesses that employ the community. The children do not learn to be wage laborers, but managers, by observing, and later participating, in the way that the businesses are run.
The businesses that the home runs, through which it maintains itself, are the real life classrooms that teach children the practical fundamentals of successful business and an entrepreneurial attitude to go out and create. We expect that in addition to house parents each home will have a business manager who oversees businesses in his or her area of expertise. Through a network of homes, say 3 in a region, each with its own business manager with different areas of expertise, the needed oversight for each workable business model can be provided.
We envision Five Distinct Entrepreneurial Activities for Sustainability:
AgribusinessHand craft Production and E-commerceClean Energy and Water ProviderMicrofinanceEntrepreneurial Education