Business Landscapes: Green Pastures & Death Valley

This blog post was written by Five Talents UK’s Founder (and former CEO), Tom Sanderson, after a recent Five Talents’ event.

Tom speaks at the Shard for Five Talents supporters.

Tom speaks at the Shard for Five Talents supporters.

I founded the Five Talents UK office in 2005 and I’m really delighted that it continues to go from strength to strength - not for its own sake, but for the people it serves - currently some 20,000 group members that have mobilised around $5m in their own savings and $15m in loans.

One of our first grants received was from John Humphrys - who runs the Kitchen Table Charities Trust. I really was working from my kitchen table in the beginning!

In other programmes I’d supported, I was met with entrepreneurs who thank me for my support by saying, “This is your goat Mr. Tom.” One of my strongest memories of Five Talents was meeting a woman running a road-side cafe. She had used a loan to buy more plates and saucepans, meaning she could literally serve more customers. The language she used - “these are my plates and my saucepans” - and her self-esteem and demeanour, impacted me tremendously.

Five Talents’ savings-led approach is sustainable and emphasises stewardship and self-reliance, within a group setting, and is coupled with literacy, numeracy and business training.

There are many millions of small enterprises in Africa, but very few large companies. Firms can experience a “valley of death”. The US Bureau of Statistics estimates that 20% of business start-ups in the USA fail in the first year; 50% fail by the 5th year; and 70% fail by year 10.

This made me think of Psalm 23 - “even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”. What an amazing picture for the entrepreneur. God is with us in tough times. And of course the Psalm goes on to provide even more encouragement.

I have interpreted Psalm 23 below and given it a contemporary twist for the entrepreneur. It recognises the “green pastures” and “quiet waters” that we sometimes enjoy; as well as the challenges and impacts. This has certainly been my experience.

As I look back with pride on how Five Talents has grown, I simply want to encourage you - entrepreneur or not - to remember that God is with you. He can be our “business mentor and ideal companion - what more do I need?”

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