Published April 26, 2017

Building a Sustainable Business to Solve Issues of Poverty

Lou Haveman with his wife Jan, are founders of Business Connect, an organization that aims to provide affordable, easy access to clean resources, such as water and light, to citizens living in developing countries through the creation of a sustainable, local business model. Lou is best described as the visionary and writer, while maintaining and nurturing his business and donor relationships around the world. He credits the Summit to the success of his business, and the model to use business to combat issues of poverty. 

Someone recently told me, “I don’t know anyone who can ask more questions, and talk to anyone more than you.” My friends describe me as a learner. I love the word “learner.” But I didn’t embrace that description until I was in my early forties and I started attending sales training and motivational seminars.

I learned sales is more than closing the deal. I learned about people, motivation and what it meant to be successful. I also discovered how much I already knew. I was amazed that the single most important part was more about reinterpreting what I knew into contemporary business language. I also learned how important it is to relearn the fundamentals of sales, relationships, purpose and motivation.

Continuing education is important   

Continuing education is the reason our family has attended the two-day “drinking-from-a-fire-hose” Global Leadership Summit event every year for more than 11 years.

Each year, I learn from some of the most knowledgeable, thoughtful and experienced men and women in business and ministry. I’ve been filled, inspired and challenged to think outside of the box. I believe that consistent exposure to strong models of leadership, hearing the stories of struggle and success and taking time to reflect and intentionally look at what we are doing through the lens of the ideas of the Summit have given us a commitment never to give up, trust God and seek improvement on a regular basis. I love doing this together in community with other leaders who want to champion change in our world.

The success of our business improves each year because of the Summit

Lou with the team of volunteers at Maratane refugee camp in 2016 getting clean water from the community well for refugee homes.

The African word “Ubuntu” means “We are someone because of the relationships we have in our lives.”

Our organization, Business Connect, has risen out of the experiences of living in several African countries, raising family there and having friends across many cultures and languages. We seek what other organizations and individuals in ministry do through collaborative relationships.

I am a great believer in empowering lay people, whether in America or around the world, to see their business as a gift and ministry.

Our goal is to be self-sustaining and create a sustainable model throughout the world. Making a profit is not our driving motivation. It is one of several bottom lines.

We want to use business as one solution to solving the issues of poverty. Our products are used as one of many tools to bring people to Christ.

Seven years ago, I was introduced to a simple, but effective water filter. Over the next three years, I helped identify local Christian leaders who imported, distributed, trained, and brought this water filter to some of the neediest and most remote regions of the world. One of our primary customers was Compassion International through whom we distributed more than 300,000 water filters in 12 different countries over a three-year period. We now have sales representatives in 45 countries.

The impact keeps us going

Without a doubt, we are motivated by the letters, emails and pictures we’ve received from our international representatives and purchasers of our products. We hear stories of how families have experienced chronic diarrhea and now are healthier than they ever have been. We’ve seen tears in the eyes of mothers who can now give their children clean, crystal-clear water instead of the silt-filled, cloudy water they drank in the past.

What really inspires me is when our representatives write and tell us helping their own people, communities and their own nation is one of the most rewarding things they have done with their lives.

The Summit makes Business Connect stronger

Attending the Summit can inspire and encourage you wherever you are.

Your influence really matters.

I encourage you to ask the questions, what do you do to grow your own capacity to lead? Who are you influencing? And how can you do it better?


About the Author(s)
Global Leadership Network

Global Leadership Network

GLN Staff Writer

The Global Leadership Network is a community committed to learning from each other and using our influence to accomplish God’s purposes on earth. No matter where your influence is, when you commit to grow your leadership, everyone around you wins—businesses work for good, communities are transformed and churches thrive! Both global and diverse, our network includes partners in 1,400+ cities and 135+ countries. We are committed to deliver fresh, actionable and inspiring leadership content both at The Global Leadership Summit, and year-round through our digital platforms.

Years at GLS All