Developing People -- Transforming Communities
At Sotiria International
we are committed to making a difference for the world's poor
in the name of Jesus.
We seek to improve the lives of the world's poor
by empowering individuals in impoverished communities
to become self-supporting through the implementation of . . .
small business development,
vocational skills training, and
Make a Difference
Sotiria International works with microfinance institutions around the world to empower men, women, and families to break the cycles of physical and spiritual poverty through the provision of loans, savings services, basic business training, mentoring, and discipleship.
Sotiria International is the result of a few passionate Christians in Indiana, USA. A small group of Christians, who have been involved in international mission work, saw how in many parts of the world traditional mission support has created a dependency syndrome. In an effort to make an eternal impact, this small group of Christians discovered the potential that is available in microfinance. During 2011 they participated in financing 30 loans for entrepreneurs in East Africa. In January of 2012 they turned this initial project into a ministry to help those in need in the name of Jesus. At this time the ministry of Sotiria International is overseen by an Executive Board.
What We Do
Around the world many creative, intelligent people are trapped in poverty because they lack access to capital. Microfinance services can make the difference between economic entrapment and the realization of their dreams. SOTIRIA International believes that microfinance can be a powerful force in changing the world for the better and that loving people as Christ loved others means caring for both physical and spiritual needs.
SOTIRIA's microfinance programs offer a sustainable alternative to the short-term forms of charity that have often left a wake of dependence in the developing world. Microfinance isn’t a hand-out but a hand up. Microloans demand ownership and active participation. Microloan recipients can take pride in knowing that their own hard work has made the difference between poverty and provision.
SOTIRIA cooperates with churches and para-church ministries who practice a holistic approach to poverty alleviation. Microcredit and basic business training enable individuals to build businesses and break free from physical poverty. Clients find that their increased income enables them to provide more nutritious and regular meals as well as improved housing and education for their children. But Sotiria isn’t only concerned with physical poverty. Christ-following loan officers share the hope of the Gospel of Christ in the context of relationships, ministering to spiritual poverty as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
How great is the need for microcredit?
More than 1.3 billion people in the world are trying to survive on less than $1 a day. Another 2 billion live on less than $2 per day. This leaves them without the means to adequately feed, clothe, or shelter their families. Estimates suggest that only one out of every eight people who could benefit from microfinance has the ability to access it.
Why don't they just go to the bank?
Formal financial institutions were not designed to help those who don't already have financial assets - they were designed to help those who do. Imagine trying to get a loan in the United States without any savings, an employer or a credit report.
What is a typical loan size for a loan through Sotiria?
Loan sizes vary. Sotiria typically provides microloans ranging from $25 to $1,000 to people living in poverty. Currently, we are averaging $264.50 per loan. This capital is enough to develop a small business which will help a family meet their needs including food, schooling, and housing.
How can such a small amount ($25 -- $1,000) really help?
In the countries where Sotiria operates, as little as $25 - $250 can purchase healthy feed for animals, a sewing machine, a cart to transport produce to market, or a market stall in which to sell goods. It can also allow an entrepreneur to purchase supplies in bulk or to hire an employee to increase effeciency. Small efficiency gains can make a big difference for families living in poverty.
How does microcredit create permanent change?
Microcredit provides the poor with the opportunity to work themselves out of poverty. Their small businesses are permanent, sustainable improvements that create independence instead of on-going reliance on external aid. As businesses grow, livelihoods improve, new opportunities are realized, and dignity is restored.
Is microfinance the solution to poverty?
No, it is but one strategy for battling an immense problem - but when used properly, it is an effective strategy.
Does Sotiria only work with Christians?
Although Sotiria works with the local church in developing countries, we serve people living in poverty regardless of their race, religion, gender, age, or marital status. There are no financial benefits or preferential treatment associated with conversion to Christianity.
Does Sotiria only work with a particular church or denomination?
No. We are a non-denomonational Christ-centered non-profit organization that works in collaboration with many different Christian churches and ministries around the world.
Is the loan truly interest free?
Yes, we at SOTIRIA International believe in helping the poor, not making money. Therefore, we offer our services to churches and other Christian ministries around the world interest free. According to the laws in some countries a service fee or interest must be charged. When that happens, all fees or interest remain in that country. We do not receive any interest on the money we lend. This is what we believe Jesus wants us to do. (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35-37; Deuteronomy 23:19; Nehemiah 5:10-11; Psalm 15:1-5; Psalm 112:5)
Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes, SOTIRIA INTERNATIONAL, Inc., State of Indiana Domestic Nonprofit Corporation, is a Nonprofit organization and tax exempt under the US government IRS code 501(c)(3). All donations to SOTIRIA INTERNATIONAL are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.
They started a school in 2007 which can handle 320 students in 9 classrooms. Currently they have 150 students. One of the biggest challenges they have is the fact that they have no electricity. They would like to add solar panels so that they can have lighting in the classrooms. Also, since their village is a long way from the city, they would like to set up an Internet Café. Just so you don't get the impression that they just have their hand out looking for help; you should know that they also raise pigs, run a bakery, & make bricks. If all of that is not enough to keep them busy, they also have 7 children.
When I was growing up, my mom use to have (well, she still does) a phrase that she would use for leftovers. She called them “mustgoes”. She would say, “Tonight we are having mustgoes.” You might think, “what are mustgoes?” Mustgoes are when everything must go. When she said “mustgoes” then we knew it was clean out the refrigerator night. All the leftovers must go.
What do you think of when you hear the word leftovers? Do you like leftovers? Honestly, I would have to say that I do. When you have leftovers it means that you get to eat sooner than if you had to cook a meal from scratch. Some leftovers are actually pretty good — like cold pizza. It’s not to bad at all. But what about 2 days later? The pizza that was AWESOME the first night when it was fresh and good the second day when it was cold is now just OK on day three. By day 4 it is dried out, stale, and not very good. Have you ever eaten leftovers after 5 or 6 days? They are not very good. Actually they are pretty bad at that point.
Let’s make a transition here. We have been talking about food in our kitchens, but now let’s relate this to sermons that pastors preach. Have you ever heard a leftover sermon? You know the one that was preached last year or 2 years ago. Maybe you attend a church where the pastor has a 2 or 3 year cycle. Every 2 or 3 years they preach the same thing. Or maybe they have been there for a while and the cycle is longer, maybe 5, 6, or 7 years.
What is even worse than being served leftover sermons is being served someone else’s leftovers sermons. With the advancement of the internet, there are sermons everywhere. There are even special websites designed to post sermons that pastors have preached. Now while the founders of these sites say they are there as research tools for pastors and they encourage them to study a variety of messages to gain insights from other pastors so they can then go write their own message, too many of the pastors who visit these sites simply steal someone else’s message and preach it as their own. Oh, some pastors might reference the pastor as if they gained a few insights from them but if you checked the leftovers against the reheated leftovers you would find that you are eating the same thing.
So what is wrong with that? Leftovers are leftovers, right? Not exactly. It is great to eat fresh meals at home each day. It is even good to have some of that food as leftovers the next day. Every once in a while it is even nice to go out to a restaurant and eat the fresh food that someone else has cooked for you. But how would you feel if you went out to a restaurant and all they offered you to eat was leftovers from yesterday, the day before, or even the day before that? How would you feel if your server told you that the leftovers were not from the kitchen but were what was left on peoples’ plates? They had scraped the food off and were going to give you the best of the leftovers. The food was good. The people liked it. So it will be good for you too. YUCK! No Thank You!
But that is what is happening in our churches each and every week. Some pastors are re-preaching old sermons that they preached years before. They are serving leftovers. Other pastors don’t even do that. They search the internet to find someone else’s leftover sermon to serve to the people who came to feast upon the Word of God.
What ever happened to the men of God who would go into their “study” and spend days in prayer and studying God’s Word in order “to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)? Instead of spending time searching the internet for someone else’s sermon, where are the men of God who say “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God.” (Acts 6:2)?
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of leftovers. I am hungry for some fresh food from the Word of God. As Job said, “I have treasured the Words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12) I love to read God’s Word each day. It is my daily bread. Now, give me some men of God who will come alongside my own personal study, and will serve it up hot and fresh each week as the Body of Christ comes together in worship to the Almighty God.
"Today more than a billion people in this world live and die in desperate poverty. They attempt to survive on less than a dollar per day. Close to two billion others live on less than two dollars per day. That's nearly half the world struggling today to find food, water, and shelter with the same amount of money I spend on french fries for lunch." -- David Platt in RADICAL: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, p. 108
IN THE NEWS
Providing a "Hand Up"
Here at SOTIRIA, we know that sometimes all it takes to change the world is a little support. We're here to lend a hand, offer assistance, and be a voice of reason for those who need it. Since the beginning of our Nonprofit Organization in 2012, we’ve worked hard to take care of the neediest members around the world. Join us and get into the habit of giving, because it truly does make the world a better place. Take a moment and check out this article written in the Hope International Alumni Newsletter about our founder and 1990 Hope Graduate, Kurt Berger. http://www.hiu.edu/alumni/iamhope/business/kurt-berger
We cannot do this on our own. It takes a team of people working together (giving, praying, & volunteering) in order to make a difference. We want to thank our business partners for standing with us in this ministry of Developing People and Transforming Communities. These are businesses that we recommend:
The Health Quotient
Working with athletes and facing family members with health challenges is what brought Dr. Jermaine Ware into the world of chiropractic. As a collegiate athlete at Indiana University Dr. Ware gained a respect for the human body and how it performs at its peak on a consistent basis. After years of research Dr. Jermaine Ware developed the health quotient. A unique approach to addressing health from a holistic perspective, one outlined in his book Elements 4 Optimal Health. Dr. ware founded HEROH Chiropractic on the principle of Helping Everyone Reach Optimal Health. This has grown into our mission of optimizing human performance, be it helping a child develop to their full potential, an athlete perform at their best or an adult obtain optimal health. To learn more about Dr. Ware and HEROH Chiropractic, visit their website at http://drjware.com/