Is there a cure for Latin America's entrenched poverty?

Is there a cure for Latin America's entrenched poverty?

If you ask Carlos and Jeannette Lopez, you don’t even need words for an answer. What you see in their eyes tells you everything. “Yes,” they reply simultaneously. This couple, parents of three adult children, makes their home in Toronto, Ontario. Still, they are equally at home in any of the many Central and South American republics. The hemisphere is like a vast field of service. They have participated in various ministries, radio, television, conferences, and most recently, training local people to start their own businesses.

Born and educated in Colombia, Carlos came to Toronto and soon found himself worshipping at The Peoples’ Church. Over the years, a close friendship with Pastor Charles Price resulted in a new venture for the church. Charles Price’s sermons were translated into Spanish and then transmitted over the radio waves by more than 700 radio stations across the Latin American world. This partnership enriched countless thousands of Latin Americans in Central and South America for ten years.

For years, Carlos wanted to train and equip Latin American leaders, so he created TELL, Training and Equipping Latin American Leaders. Then, Carlos and Jeannette created a new entity, AAP, Action Against Poverty. The passion in their hearts was reflected in their faces. AAP was formed to break down the poverty cycle and reactivate the local economy in small Latin-American communities.

Using an entrepreneurship strategy, Carlos went to three countries: the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Colombia. Over 800 individuals attended these first three-day seminars, learning how to start their own business, market home-made products, and maintain a viable business

In March 2022, the couple generated 200 more new small business initiatives in Mexico, and 200 more entrepreneurship projects in Ecuador. The training involves a three-day intensive training program, with the following topics:

Day 1: Business creation training, business plan, marketing, accounting, and sustainability. They provide an interactive media, speaking, reading and writing material to assist each participant to be able to create by themselves their own business plan for each of their entrepreneurship projects

Day 2: Each participant receives a small book to start their projects. The start-up package includes tools to produce bags, jewellery and/or woodwork. After getting the whole package of theory and an example of full business plan, each participant can choose one of the three workshops: (1) bags, (2) woodwork and (3) jewellery. Using their imagination, gifts, and talents each participant develops a brand-new product related to their own entrepreneurship project.

Day 3: Each new entrepreneur presents its project, networking events and graduation.

Follow – Up: For the next three months, the local team coordinator of AAP – Action Against Poverty continues with personal and in group follow-up, praying, mentoring, and encouraging each entrepreneur to continue with their project, reporting to us the progress, needs and new challenge in the process.

After the global pandemic, this was even more urgent because thousands of Latin Americans were further impoverished when they could gainfully earn a living. Recently, additional seminars brought hundreds more together in Bolivia and California.

These workshops are held in local churches, where pastors and church leaders can form deep relationships with people interested in providing for their families. The Gospel is at the core of the work Carlos and Jeannette carry out.

Additionally, Carlos has offered seminars in Bolivia and California. He has been before more than 10,000 pastors and leaders in his ministry. No one will ever be able to measure the impact of the 1,900 entrepreneurial jobs and projects in these countries. Our prayers are with Carlos and Jeannette as they continue with their passion for holistic ministry to Latin Americans through local churches.