The SMMC Foundation has invested in international grant making opportunities since its inception in 2001. The decision by the original board of directors was based on two key understandings. First and foremost, investing in international ministries is in direct alignment with the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ to “…be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (* Acts 1:8). This commitment is captured in the SMMCF mission statement to be “…a lasting, effective and compassionate charitable resource for agencies in Southeast Georgia, the nation and the world …..” And secondly, investing in international ministries has long been a tradition of the St. Marys Methodist Church as evidenced by a history of donations to various international missions, Christian organizations, and missionaries.
2001 – 2016: In the early years, the Foundation invested in a variety of Christian-based international opportunities in a multitude of locations. During 2004 - 2010, the Foundation collaborated with Church World Service working in East Africa to improve the conditions of vulnerable children whose lives had been impacted by HIV/AIDS, war, and famine. In 2011, the Foundation joined Church World Service, MAP International and ECHO to create the TOGETHER Coalition, a 5-year initiative to build community resilience among the Karamojong peoples of Northern Uganda. Although the geography varied as did the people and their situations, the common theme in all cases was extreme poverty.
2017 – 2021: Partner’s Worldwide (www.partnersworldwide.org) – A $200,000 per year investment for 5 years with Partners Worldwide to leverage entrepreneurs and job-creators to achieve increased sustainability and resilience for vulnerable people in Ghana, West Africa. Partners Worldwide began with a simple question: “Is there a way for businesspeople to become part of the solution to ending poverty, instead of being seen as part of the problem?” In 1994, Partners for Christian Development, now Partners Worldwide, was formed when Kenyan and American businesspeople met to establish a loan fund for small to medium enterprises (SMEs), a business savings and loan cooperative, and partnerships between entrepreneurs. Partners for Christian Development grew out of World Renew (then Christian Reformed World Relief Committee). In 2005, responding to the increasing need to engage business people and professionals, Partners Worldwide was established as an independent faith-based business ministry, though it continues to partner with the Christian Reformed Church.
During the 2017 – 2021 timeframe, the SMMC Foundation invested $200,000 per year with Hopeline Institute (www.partnersworldwide.org/lci/hopeline-institute) in Ghana, West Africa, a very successful Partners Worldwide LCI partner since 2010.
Grant funds were used to increase Hopeline Institute’s capacity to provide micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) business loans, training, mentoring and advocacy-support in the four sectors targeted and covered by the LCI: Agriculture, Manufacturing, Retail, and Service. A portion of the funds were dedicated to an increased focus on long-term impacts through building inclusive agricultural value chains, which play an important role in ending poverty by linking small-scale, rural, and often marginalized farmers to viable markets.
During the grant period over 145,000 new sustainable jobs were created. With an average family of 3, these new jobs will help over 400,000 people in Ghana have the opportunity to move out of poverty.
2022 – 2025: A new 4-year initiative with Partners Woldwide using the successful model proven in Ghana, the foundation will invest $200,000 per year through 2025 to create new jobs and sustainable economic development in the central American country of Nicaragua. The funds will support the Asociation Pueblos en Accion Comunitaria (APAC), a partner of Partners Worldwide in Nicaragua since 2014.