Agape (/ˈæɡəpiː/ or /ˈæɡəpɪ/; Classical Greek: ἀγάπη, agápē; Modern Greek: αγάπη IPA: [aˈɣapi]), which means love: esp. compassion, forgiveness, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God. -Wikipedia
With the encouragement of friends and family, I let the Holy Spirit lead me on a mission trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was on this mission trip that our group was able to provide a platform for change in the lives of several young Ethiopian girls by investing in them through teaching them business, marketing, simple math, design and color coordination skills. Our small group of women created and shared lessons where we demonstrated these skills through craft projects. Over the several days while we lived in their community, we walked through their community market, searched for products that may be missing, and that the expats would be interested to purchase. We sourced materials that were free and very cheap, so these women would be able to replicate the products and potentially raise money for food and schooling.
At the time, I did not realize what God was doing, but I knew I had the desire to somehow replicate this experience to empower others.
A few years later, I ended up traveling (somewhat randomly, mostly unplanned) through New Zealand and Southeast Asia, where I more fully began to realize the potential plan for The Agapé Market. While in Thailand, visiting the local markets, I found lovely items and wanted to know more about the people who were making these amazing products. I started to ask the locals where these beautiful pieces were created. Thus, beginning my adventures through Thailand and Cambodia in search of their local artisans. While motor biking through these neighborhoods in search of the "manufacturing facilities" I not only met amazing artisans, but I also saw how these people we living and working. It was not the "manufacturing facilities" that I had pictured in my mind during business school. There are entire communities that focus their work entirely on one product or several versions of one product. During the search for these artisans, I also found orphanages and other NGO's who were there to provide support for the needy.
At the time, I believed that it was the purpose of The Agapé Market to purchase these items, re-sell them in the US, and send back a percentage to several of these NGO's. I did purchase items, and I did make donations while in country. Upon return from these travels, I worked with a mentor, who helped with the business plan, and we realized at the time there was no room to make this idea a sustainable business. So, I put down the Agapé dream and changed career direction, became an Executive Recruiter, and learned SO much about business, careers and how large companies work. It was this experience, I believe, has provided the knowledge to grow The Agapé Market into a company that can not only sustain itself, but also substantially contribute to successful non-profits and NGO's in an impactful way.
In the winter of 2015, I was laid off of from a wonderful company where I had an amazing position in recruiting. While being laid off generally sounds like an awful thing to have happen, I knew in my heart that this change in direction came from the Lord. Actually, the night before I was laid off, I prayed for direction in my life. Since the lay off, I have received undeniable confirmation that the Lord has a plan for His Agapé Market. A plan to change people and communities and expand His Kingdom through His Agapé Love.
Here at Market, we have several goals. It is our aim to show Agapé love to all we encounter, create change in communities in a positive way, and to support artisans and crafters.
Agapé Market is not only a retail outlet, where you can purchase beautiful handmade items and know that you are supporting actual people, but it is a community environment where locals can gather, learn and contribute to their local surroundings in a positive way.
Our purpose it to donate profits to supporting successful local, national and international non-profits that provide job skills and life skills to those in need. Currently, we are committed to our local Bridge Program. To learn more about the non-profits we support, please go to our Agapé Partners page.
It is my hope that this note provided the background information you were looking for. If not, please feel free to contact us, and we would be happy to provide more detail.
In His Agapé Love & mine,