We talked to Pete West to find out more about the Biznistry Boot Camp and the ORCA Center.
West retired about five years ago after a 32-year career at P&G. He has been involved with the ORCA Center since he retired from P&G. He spends his time coaching start-up businesses and providing business leaders with education on topics like how to do accounting, balancing your books, human resources, marketing and sales as well as many of the fundamental things that are required to manage a business.
Q: Tell us more about Self-Sustaining Enterprises, Inc. (SSE) and the ORCA Center?
A: Self-Sustaining Enterprises, Inc., (SSE) a nonprofit supported by Grace Chapel, recently opened the ORCA Center, a 10,000 square foot Biznistry incubator. The center has been recently renovated and is in the former New2You thrift shop building, which closed in 2014.
SSE is a nonprofit 501c3 organization that helps launch faith-based Biznistries both here and abroad. We consider the ORCA Center as one of the Biznistries underneath SSE. It’s the physical location where we run our nonprofit, so the ORCA Center becomes our physical administrative center, but it’s also a work space that we lease out to other people who are launching or running businesses as well. I have two people I work with, who are responsible specifically for the ORCA Center. One is Bethany Butler, she is the official director of the center. She manages all of the operations. And, Rachel Pitman is our marketing director. She works with advertising and marketing of the center.
There are about 25 Biznistries under SSE. Some of them are in southwest Ohio in the Mason area, generally. We also have operations in Central Nigeria, in Jos, Nigeria. We have an economic development zone that we operate there. It’s about a 75-acre property, where we do farming, raising chickens and pigs, and establishing plant nurseries.
In reading into the name, Self-Sustaining Enterprises, Inc. is focused on building businesses, which by their nature are self-sustaining. In other words, they don’t require donations to operate, but the business itself has ministry objectives, including providing a flow of funds for other philanthropic activities.
We are all about helping launch new business enterprises that are going to have some sort of social value or impact on the community beyond the product and service they are providing.
Once businesses generate sustainable profits, a percentage of profits are designated to support SSE ministries like Back2Back Ministries, a holistic orphan care ministry with operations in Haiti, Nigeria, India and Mazatlán, Mexico.
SSE’s “local focus for global reach” formula has been successful for more than two decades. Jeff Greer, pastor at Grace Chapel, and his wife, Debbie, co-founded Back2Back Ministries in 1996. Greer met Proudfit in 2002, and together they created the Biznistry concept in order to eliminate poverty, help entrepreneurs grow businesses and serve others with excess profits. Greer and Proudfit co-authored a book on marketplace ministries called Biznistry: Transforming Lives Though Ministry in 2014.
Additionally, SSE is working with other churches and organizations who are trying to launch similar efforts.
Q: You work as a full-time volunteer at SSE, what’s that like?
A: I see this as a unique way that people can use their business skills and knowledge to help do very concrete ministry work. Sometimes, we talk about the marketplace, and the people we are working with, and we’re trying to reach out to people through businesses that we have throughout our community. I clearly see this as a ministry calling for me, and I spend just as much time on it now as I did with P&G.
Q: How does the ORCA Center work?
A: It’s unusual to have a center that provides incubator, accelerator and office space with a ministry focus all at one location. We see part of our role as equipping other churches and organizations to launch Biznistries like this and enable them to develop their own marketplace ministry programs.
The ORCA Center provides entrepreneurs with seed capital, business coaching and counselors who will help them grow in two areas: their spiritual foundations and fiscal bottom lines.
The ORCA Center had a soft opening in early 2017 and has already created 50 sponsored Biznistry jobs.
Entrepreneurs who have businesses located in the ORCA Center include: CrossFit Superfly Gym, a core strength and conditioning fitness program; Neyer Industrial Design, which creates custom-designed lighting and art, and All Together Lovely, a beauty products company for people of color and mixed-racial families.
The ORCA Center is a shared workspace in downtown Mason, which offers multiple membership options from a drop-in meeting place to a dedicated desk space. For more details, go to www.theorcacenter.com.
Q: How can we find out more information about the Biznistry Boot Camp, The ORCA Center and AWOP?
A: For more information on SSE's Biznistries, the ORCA Center, or to attend the Biznistry Boot Camp, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (513) 827-1251. Seating is limited. An RSVP by Wednesday, Feb. 14, is requested. The ORCA Center on the Grace Chapel Campus is located at 408 Fourth Aven. in Mason. Check the ORCA Center out at www.theorcacenter.com. Also, visit www.atworkonpurpose.org.
Contact this contributing writer at email@example.com.