One of the most difficult aspects of running a foreign charity is the dependence on the generosity of others and the uncertainty that goes along with that. Especially during trying financial times it is a scary endeavor to be fully reliant on people an ocean apart. We have been enormously blessed to have amazing partnerships with people who generously support our work and our boys, but the bottom line is that someday even the most well-intentioned child grows up and needs to stand on her own two feet. This is a task we at Masana have taken quite seriously. This year, for the first time in our history, Masana has made an investment in its financial future and the future of its community. As of the 1st of this year Masana has become the owner of one of Maputo’s only middle class fitness facilities. An odd pair from an outsider’s perspective, I know, but it is a much more fitting couple than first glances would have you believe.
The idea came from a level of frustration I had with gyms in this city. The fact that a vast majority of Mozambicans couldn’t afford a place to work out irritated me to no end. And the consistent theme amongst the higher end gyms operating on the other side of the tracks was foreign ownership, meaning profits were rarely being reinvested in our local community. Soon I found myself a bit of a ministry niche by working out occasionally with our boys. They seemed to love spending “man time” with me on the few home gym pieces I had. So it all seemed to naturally coalesce into a solid investment plan for both the organization and the vision of seeing boys transformed into men of integrity. All we then needed was a place. That and a lot of money…
And by some divine movement both seemed to show up in less than expected places. The facility was old (untouched for decades old), the equipment was far away, the customers were non-existent, and the staff was, well, in training. Not a recipe for a successful business or a successful outreach. God has a way of using less than successful situations to do big things, though. We opened as the sun rose on 2013 with the goal to break even by April (break even is about 36 members). The first few days were slow and scary. Many potential customers were still on vacation, no one knew who we were, and we sat most days in anticipation ready to pounce on any potential customer that even walked past our building. Like I said before God has a tendency to use less than perfect individuals to do big things. And I am proud to report that before the close of our second month of operations we have nearly doubled our break-even point. The place has been a whopping success (so far at least). The outreach portion of things is still in the works. Our efforts have been focused far more on making sure that we are running a viable business, but now that we have some breathing room we will start to pour into the kids we are sent here to serve, all the while knowing that we are one step closer (granted a baby step) to finally standing on our own two feet.