We help local Salvation Army units abroad help themselves with sustainable business models
The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) is ready, willing and able to mobilize around the world, providing technical support and financial assistance to local Salvation Army community centers as they provide for those in need.
SAWSO's sustainable solutions projects -- its newest and fastest-growing focal point -- seeks to take that concept to the next level. Rather than providing funds and expertise to Salvation Army units abroad, SAWSO seeks to help them create their own self-sustaining business models, reducing their need for aid from outside their borders.
This means different things in different places. Sometimes, it might mean establishing a successful thrift store operation -- a tried and true fundraising strategy within the larger Salvation Army organization. Or it may mean a community center building, owned and operated by the local Salvation Army, with meeting rooms, fellowship areas and office space available for a fee to other organizations and the general community.
In Argentina, a project is underway to construct a soccer facility to directly provide healthy, safe activity for the local youth, and to create a facility that others can rent for their own games, tournaments and events, all while strengthening local Salvation Army centers with a sustainable business whose profits can then be used to support charity activities.
The concept has been a long-time goal of SAWSO's executive director Lt. Col. Thomas Bowers, who, to borrow from the old adage, believes teaching a man to fish is a more valuable gift than giving him a fish.
"El Club Salvadores de Quilmes," developed in partnership between The Salvation Army and the Argentinian Business University (UADE), is a new sustainable model for the local corps community center. Supported by SAWSO and The Salvation Army's Eastern and Western territories and kicked off in 2017, the facility will consist of two soccer fields available to rent in the Quilmes East area near Buenos Aires.
Distinguished by a higher level of quality and customer service than its competitors in the area, the facility will provide lockers, private parking with security, changing rooms and showers, a mini sports shop, and on-site food service.
With a customer base of soccer training schools, leagues and individual teams, profits will go towards supporting The Salvation Army's social services work in Argentina.
All it takes is a little start-up money to get the project rolling, and that's where SAWSO comes in. With a relatively small initial investment and a strong, sustainable business plan developed by SAWSO and its partners, the facility is expected to become profitable almost immediately after it opens.
The facility will help make The Salvation Army in Argentina self-sustaining, less dependent on foreign funds, and better able to bring hope to those in need. But it will also serve the community in another way by providing fellowship, social opportunities and a sense of belonging to those who participate, train, play and spectate at the club's fields.
El Club Salvadores de Quilmes will become a gateway through which countless residents can become involved with The Salvation Army's mission of hope and carry that hope to others in their communities.