We’ve spent a lot of time engaging with former Amish students on their academic ambitions but today we’d like to hear from those of you who have left the Amish and started your own business. Since I’ve started working in business finance, I realize that good business practice starts with honesty, integrity and some common sense. I think that’s the reason that many former Amish people have been successful in starting their own companies. I know some people who have built very successful businesses on an 8th grade education and they’ll make a lot more money than I ever will with my Masters degree.
I never saw my education as a way to make more money, but simply as a learning tool to quench my serial curiosity. There are people who chose to get an education and then start their own business, while others go straight into the latter. I recently met someone who did it the other way around – he started a few companies and has now decided to pursue his college degree. The point I’m trying to make is that there is no wrong or right way to go about it. You have to know your own self and what your strengths and weaknesses are and what you want to do in life.
Someone recently brought my attention to Kiva.zip which is a branch off Kiva, doing a pilot test for entrepreneurs who need to borrow a bit of money to get started. I wanted to share it with you because it’s actually interest-free loans. The money comes from charitable lenders who aren’t looking to make any money, but help someone get started with a small business. I think it’s a beautiful way of helping people take that first step that might not otherwise be available to them.
The site has trustees who meet with the entrepreneur and help raise the money for them on the site. If there are any former Amish people out there who are interested in starting or expanding their own business, but they need an upfront loan – I’d be interested in being your trustee. Just contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss.
Whatever you all choose to do in all aspects of your life – I hope you find joy in it and remember to help those younger Amish people who first leave the community. I’ve met a lot of people doing so and it’s a wonderful way to pass on the community values that we were taught. The world can be a lonely place when we step out of our homes and communities to start a life of our own, so small acts of kindness go a long way.