The global DNA network is composed of people who see a problem, consider what God’s Word has to say about it, and address it in practical ways according to their own God-given skills and resources. This process has borne remarkable endeavors around the world like The Ashish Centre and Let Her Live in India, Fundación Amalos in Colombia, Instituto Um27 in Brazil, and the Youth Empowered Network in Uganda, to name a few.
In South Africa, Ena Richards had been working in the business sector and was frustrated by the lack of work ethic and development in the local workforce. She also was heartbroken at seeing young adults leaving school only to enter the workforce unprepared: no networking contacts, no knowledge of how to find a job, and no family members to guide them. Her pastor had been preaching sermons using ideas from Discipling Nations, so Ena picked up the book to read it, considering how those ideas might apply to her community.
Ena recognized lies in her surrounding culture which trap people in poverty:
- The poverty mindset says: “I am poor; therefore, I’ll always be poor.”
- The entitlement mindset says: “I am owed something! Who will give me a house? Who will educate my children?”
- Lack of excellence says: “I just need to do enough to get by.”
Ena saw that employers were searching for honest, reliable, capable staff who would commit to and take pride in their work, while unemployed people were complaining about their inability to find a job.
In 2007, Ena developed Siya Sebenza which (as of April 2017) operates 40 WORK 4aLiving centers across South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and the Philippines.
In these centers, the lies above are replaced with biblical truth, and unemployed youth are taught how to work with excellence, start businesses and progress in their careers. They learn how to present themselves in an interview, find employment (through the WORK 4aLiving Job Centre), start a business (through the WORK 4aLiving Business School), pursue further training (at the WORK 4aLiving Computer Lab or Skills Centre), and further their education.
Ena is seeing results. In 2016, across all WORK 4aLiving centers:
3,956 previously unemployed individuals completed WORK 4aLiving
1,845 students improved their skills or learned new skills through the trade skills programs
2,000+ found employment that they know of (Many more students have removed themselves from the job-seeker list and their phones are off, so they are assumed to be working.)
170 new businesses were started from the Business School
174 students went back to school
1,446 made a commitment to Christ – and are in the process of being discipled