When God Closes a Potato Shop He Opens a Phone Booth

19 Sep

When God Closes a Potato Shop He Opens a Phone Booth

African micro loan recipient at phone Kiosk

Dieudonne and Diana Kayobera in front of their cell phone recharging kiosk

I spent part of my first full day in Burundi visiting micro-loan beneficiaries, two of whom are Dieudonne and Diana Kayobera, followers of Jesus. I met Dieudonne the last time I was in Burundi, and he then had a thriving potato business that he started with his first loan from our Burundi micro-bank. The local government, however, later shut his business down, because he, along with a scores of others, was selling in an unapproved market place. Dieudonne went crying to his pastor. His potato business had been doing so well, and the good location had been a major factor. His pastor encouraged him to pray and ask the Lord for wisdom.

And that is what Dieudonne did. Before long he believed the Lord gave him an inspired idea. He would open a kiosk where people who have no electricity could recharge their cell phones (which seem to be owned by everyone in Africa). From that kiosk, he would also offer phone call service and sell mobile phones and accessories.

With his remaining profits from his defunct potato business and a second loan of $400, Dieudonne gathered all he needed and set up shop along a very busy road in the capital city of Bujumbura. And the end of the story is that the phone business is better than the potato business. Dieudonne and his wife Diana often realize daily sales of $40, a major portion of which is profit. They feel rich, and use a good part of their profits to “help the poor.”

I so enjoy visiting joyful and prospering entrepreneurs like Dieudonne and Diana. And I’m always amazed how a tiny loan can make such a big difference in the lives of the poor. There are at least twenty other borrowers here in Burundi, and I wish I was going to have time to visit them all. But I won’t. Tomorrow we begin our three-day pastors’ conference.

Thanks for your prayers,


African phone kiosk

Inside their kiosk. To the left of Dieudonne and Diana are about thirty cell phones that are all being simultaneously recharged.

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