Samaritan Ministries in Ukraine

IT WAS A GODSEND

It was a godsend.

About 10 years ago, a Canadian couple donated $25,000 to establish a Small Business Loan Fund for enterprising business people. It could not have come at a more opportune time. Interest rates at the time were 25 – 30%. Fear of default made it difficult to qualify and the paperwork was endless. This made it almost impossible for Ukrainians to start their own businesses. As God would have it, this couple saw the need and decided to do something about it.

Today we offer about half a dozen loans each year to help families get on their feet. The families sign a contract and repay the principal, plus 10% interest, on a monthly basis. The program, administered by Alex, our national director, has been highly successful. Not only has it put bread on the table, but it helps subsidize our Samaritan work.

Recently five business people from the Portland-area made a Vision Tour to Ukraine to meet with a group of our loan recipients and to strategize with them as to how they can maximize their business investments. They returned with numerous observations and suggestions on how to strengthen the program.

Gordon Smith, a retired grocer, observed, “The Ukrainians desperately need to be educated on successful business practices, especially in customer services.” Tim Miller, an Internet Provider, said, “SMU has a successful loan program, but they need more funds so they can loan more. Today a lot of business people are looking for loans in the $10,000 range. Since we only have $25,000 in a revolving fund, that doesn’t go far.”

Linda Solarek, a banker, was likewise impressed with our loan program. She said, “Many of the loan recipients volunteer their time and expertise to mentor new recipients. In that way, they show themselves to be true Samaritans.” Kathy Smith, a retired bookkeeper and receptionist, said, “It was extremely touching to hear the stories of what people have been through and the pride they now have in themselves.”

All five of our Vision Tour members now feel a special bond with our loan recipients in Ukraine and are committed to investing time, energy and money to help with them become even more successful.

This, too, is a godsend.