A vision that began in the heart of National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford ignited a continent away.
Six months after aligning with the Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce, the first church chamber of commerce in the nation, Alford saw his vision of empowering businesses through the formation of a network of church chambers of commerce explode exponentially in Kenya, Africa.
Alford’s goal- to empower business owners to align themselves to produce economic strength and prosperity through the formation of church chambers – ignited in the heart of George Ndhawa
Ndhawa crossed paths with NBCC official Charles Debow during the organization’s travels and was later introduced to Leon Jenkins, president/CEO of the recently formed Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce on a Trade Mission Trip in June 2011.
For Ndhawa, the meeting was confirmation of a vision planted in his heart long ago to make a life-changing difference in his community.
George Ndhawa has always had hope, even as a young boy.
Although he grew up in an impoverished Kenyan village and experienced the stark realities of poverty, and hunger and factions that arose in a country comprised of a mixture of Christian and Islam faiths, somehow he believed things could be better.
“My background has given me a desire to see children and young adults have a good life because I didn’t consider myself having the best of what life could give,” says Ndhawa.
Raised by his grandmother because of his father’s work commitments in the city and his mother health challenges that kept her in and out of hospitals, Ndhawa developed a compassion for the struggles of others.
At the age of 18, he joined forces with several of his cousins to start a rehabilitation program for children in the community who were orphaned or abandoned and had turned to drugs and alcohol or joined gangs.
Although the program flourished and was granted a free parcel of land by the city council on which to construct a school, Ndhawa says he had not given his life to Christ.
“I thought it was a good thing to take them out of the streets, but I didn’t have God with me at the time,” says Ndhawa of his early community outreach efforts.
That changed in 1990, when the Kenyan-born native graduated from college.
“After I came out of college in 1990 it occurred to me that I needed to give my way to God and that’s when I ask for salvation and He gave it to me so from there I became a Christian,” says Ndhawa.
In 1996, his love of soccer took him to Majingal, Nairobi, one of the largest slums in Eastern Central Africa, where he witnessed the impact of the commercial sex trade, where children as young as 4 or 5 were put out of their homes to allow their parents to engage in the trade.
Two decades later, after setting aside his goals of becoming a professional soccer player, he is the pastor of Heart and Soul Church and heads the recently founded Church Chamber of Commerce in Kenya.
With faith and determination, he recently sacrificed to fund his own way to travel to the Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce Convention and Expo held in January to equip himself to lead the church chambers in his country.
“They asked me to come to the convention last year in Miami, but I could not make it but when they told me they were having another one in January here and I set my eyes on it and I am here.
“So we are following the footsteps of what is being done here in America and I am just here to learn so that I take back just what Ive seen and believed it to take back to my people,” says Ndwaye.
Ndwaye was disheartened at the divisions between Christian churches in his country; divisions he believes have allowed many of the Muslim churches to gain ground in spreading their faith.
“Islam in our country is learning very fast because they are already using their money within their community and they have targeted every upcoming neighborhood, so when a neighborhood is being constructed the Muslims will come and buy a huge land there.
“They have a home for less fortunate children, they support them in their education, they give shelter to those who do not have shelter and they support their families and have an upper hand to snatch away our children from our faith, so it’s very painful,” says Ndhawa.
His hope as founder and President/CEO of the Church Chamber of Commerce in Kenya is to unite business owners through his network of participating churches to help them to grow and become empowered economically.
“We are not united as one everyone is doing his own thing, every church is doing her own thing. So when they give me the concept of if we have one dollar and we land it first of all within our family this dollar can go to another family and make it that family get another dollar and transfer into another one and before it goes out it has created more dollars within the community or the family,” says Ndhawa.
Ndhawa believes that unity among the churches in his country will lead to success and revitalization for the community.
“I feel like if our churches can come up and do this thing as one and we maintain our economical strength we can go very far,” he says.
According to Ndhawa, members of his church chambers are beginning with an assessment of their businesses and resources and will soon be working on plans to hold their own business conference in the near future.
“Then we will do a launch and make it coincide with another coming of the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, so that we put our heads together,” says Ndware.
On his recent trip to the U.S. to attend the BPBCC Convention/Expo he has equipped himself with business insights and knowledge that will help he and members of his network of church chambers achieve their goals.
” I learned from the seminars I attended that you cannot do it alone. This is because we have various strengths,” says Ndhawa.
As Pastor of Heart and Soul Church in Kenya for the past four years, Ndhawa is no stranger to the responsibilities of leadership, having planted 20 churches in his country, but remains humble and open to learning as he champions his latest mission of empowering businesses through church chambers of commerce.
“There is a lot I want to give to the community from spiritual to business to sports. I look at how the world market and economy keeps changing and I know that one country will not be able to do business within itself. We need to go across our borders to get with like-minded business communities to see if we can do across-the-border businesses,” says Ndhawa.
In addition to strong business alliances, he credits God as the key to moving everything forward.
“If you don’t put everything that you are doing to God it is very hard to venture.
Sometimes I don’t have the insights that God gave me all the way, I have an idea of what I want to do, but don’t know how to do it, but God brings somebody and this person speaks of the same thing that I am thinking about and I say ‘thank you Lord,’ because he is all that we need in this,” says Ndhawa.