In February of this year, I began working with Catholic sisters of ACWECA — the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa — to develop their social media presence. As with any new technology, it was a bit of a struggle at first. The sisters use WhatsApp for messaging, but none of the other platforms that have become ubiquitous for many of us. Since partnering with ACWECA to form the Sisters’ Blended Value Project, Miller Center has witnessed these congregations’ tremendous growth, and we wanted to help them amplify their stories.
The Sisters’ Blended Value Project (SBVP) grew out of a conversation between Sister Eneless Chimbali and Thane Kreiner, our former executive director, at a 2018 conference at the Vatican. Sister Eneless, then-Secretary General of ACWECA, expressed concern that charity was no longer a sustainable model. Since congregations relied heavily on charity, she was looking to facilitate new revenue streams and initiated a partnership with Miller Center to teach social entrepreneurship to the sisters.
Through SBVP, congregations are paired with local social entrepreneurs to learn business skills and launch enterprises, primarily in coffee or poultry farming. This not only enables them to become self-sustaining but also to act as incubators for their communities, helping their congregants build similar enterprises as pathways out of poverty. The work these sisters are doing is amazing, and we thought the world should know. But we didn’t want to tell their stories for them. It wasn’t our place to do that. Our role is to lift them up — to accompany them and help them tell their stories in their own voices.
Check out my video to learn more about the sisters’ journeys to Twitter and beyond.