As your camels descend from the mountains into the desert, you and your camels are happy to find this oasis silk road city. It’s a place where you can replenish your supplies and sleep in a real bed.
This city has a history of being an important stop in the midst of a silk road journey. A place of trading and a mix of people. However, today it is an outpost in the desert at the foot of the mountains. A remote place with little economic opportunity and a lot of ethnic strife.
But this is the place God chose to place a young couple to set up a Business 4 Blessing Alliance (B4B) Café. They’ve been in this place for 5 years. They purposefully designed the business to be a place of reconciliation. A place where families from different ethnic groups could come to the same place and simply have a meal. The young couple hoped that by having the cultural experience of eating different food together barriers could be broken down and bridges built.
They also wanted to show the community that people of different ethnic groups could work together. So they hired a sous chef from one group and wait-staff from another. Because of how the staff was treated, they learned God’s love in the midst of their work. It wasn’t easy. Staff came and went but the couple demonstrated biblical values in how they treated their staff. When it came time to renew their lease or business license, they again demonstrated biblical values in not paying bribes or going around the legal system in any way.
It's always difficult to keep a restaurant going. When you have a good business model, competitors copy your model and then you struggle to be profitable. However, the Silk Road Cafe continues to model God’s love in the midst of a difficult and unloving environment.
We worked with them from the beginning, helping to formulate their business plan, sharpening their thinking as they developed processes and procedures for the Café. We encouraged them to apprentice in another restaurant until they understood the best ways to run a restaurant.
We worked with their initial funder to understand what he wanted. Over time we have also worked with other funders to ensure they are in a healthy business position.
We’ve gone to their location six or seven times to encourage them, solve problems, formulate strategy, and talk through new business models. We are always available on Skype to answer questions, give advice, pray and just be a friend. We share their joys and sorrows. That’s what it takes to incubate a B4B business.