After 4 days together in Nairobi, a group of business, faith and community development leaders emerged from the CREATE Conference. As a result of the conference, they now share a dream for a movement that will see local partnerships between these 3 groups. These partnerships will work towards the creation of communities where everyone will be seen valued and together have the opportunity to flourish.
The CREATE Conference ran from June 20-24th 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya. It was the outcome of a partnership between the World Evangelical Alliance´s Business Coalition, the Centre for Building Better Community and the Informal Settlements and Cities Consortium. The conference and ensuing movement so far include a frontrunner team with people from Argentina, Australia, Burundi, England, Germany, Kenya, Pakistan and Zambia.
The partnership evolved during the COVID19 pandemic where some of the negative effects of outside interventions in local communities became starkly clear. Major funders and NGOs, with the best intentions can come into a community with a perceived external understanding of the needs and a pre-determined agenda or solution to fix the problems. Foreign entrepreneurs who develop their business somewhere else have only a superficial understanding of the community they are working with. Solutions fail because there is a lack of understanding of social and cultural paradigms. In contrast local entrepreneurs and community development practitioners with lived experience of the problems and the community often do not receive the opportunities and capital to make a real difference.
The CREATE Conference and the ensuing movement is exploring how these issues can be tackled, attempting to answer the question; “What is the nexus between business / financing and community-led, strength-based development that leads towards the creation of flourishing communities?”
The conference explored a model of community flourishing that opens the doors for broad based partnerships not only between the 3 target groups but the whole community. Strength based Community Development approaches bring the beginning of a mindset change, helping communities to realise the strengths and resources they have and that they are more than a ‘poor and needy community.’.
Faith communities have a wonderful opportunity to be like glue in their broader communities, working to bring people who think differently together. Their understanding of God’s work in the world allows for a broad engagement and the sharing of resources, neighbourhood care, and the creation of spiritual and social capital.
Part of the conference was also the visit of a number of social enterprises, among them Africa Inland Child and Community Agency for Development’s college in Kibera, Africa’s largest informal settlement.
CREATE conference leaders, Timo Plutschinski (WEA) and Andre van Eymeren (CBBC) were deeply encouraged about the depth of the whole conference and the potential for future change. They stated: “We now have a far better understanding of how faith, NGO, business and community can come together to create flourishing communities. The conference was definitely more than a once off gathering. It was the start of a very dynamic movement.”
A correlating book about “A Just Economy in Times of Global Crises”, edited by Timo Plutschinski and among other global experts also contributed by Andre Van Eymeren, has just got published and leads into a further discussion. It presents reflections and ideas of Christians how to engage and bring change into economy in light of the various global challenges.
CREATE Conference: www.create-conference.net
World Evangelical Alliance Business Coalition: www.business.worldea.org
Centre for Building Better Community: www.community.how
Informal Settlements and Cities Consortium: www.informalsettlements.net
Model of Community Flourishing: https://www.community.how/journal/the-flourishing-framework
Publication “A Just Economy”: https://sallux.eu/bookstore/a-just-economy-in-times-of-global-crises.html