The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members to be self-reliant. This is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. It does this by providing the self-reliance program which helps members understand their level of self-reliance and create a plan for improvement. The program has three groups which take place once a week for 12 weeks.
The three groups are Starting and Growing My Business, My Job Search and Education for Better Work. Starting and Growing my Business is for those who have a business or want to start one. Group members practice record keeping, marketing, and cash management. They also test ways to increase their income through small business experiments. My Job Search is for those who have the skills to get a good job. Group members get a job by identifying opportunities, networking, presenting themselves professionally, and preparing for job interviews. Education for Better Work is for those who need education or training to get a good job or start a business. Group members identify work that will help them become self-reliant and find a school or program that leads to that work.
Moses Mudavadi Kisembe participated in this program and completed a 12 weeks course in Starting and Growing My Business. When he returned to Kenya after serving a mission in Ghana, Moses knew he had to find a way to provide for himself. When he asked a relative who worked at a college about getting a job at the school, the relative asked him how he could expect to get a job without having gone to college. Taking only his mission papers and not his certificates from high school he got a job at the school. The employment was only temporary and after he was released, he wanted to open a “cereal” shop and also go to college which he is currently doing simultaneously.
His goal is to run a sustainable Cereal and Merchandise store in Kayole, Kenya. He decided on this business because everyone buys food. For people living in the slum that he sells to, it is convenient for them to have a cereal store close by to come to every day to buy small portions of cereal to feed their families. Moses knows that by working hard and staying focused on building his business he will be able to have the cash flow to pay his bills, invest into growing his business, and save enough money to become self reliant.
He went through the Self-Reliant course Starting and Growing My Business in 2016. It was through this course and meeting with its group members that he learned to separate his business finances from his personal finances. He learned that he needed to keep daily records of his businesses income and expenses, “Keeping daily records can track the movement of my business”, Moses said. “It helped because I learned that I couldn’t just take the money from the business without keeping a record of it just because it was my business. I had challenges with that. I needed to have an income. So I pay myself from the business and record it as an expense. I have learned that if I make 2000 shillings in one week I have to try not to spend more than 1000 shillings, and invest the other 1000 shillings into my business by buying more and different products.”
Moses also learned in his groups how to be engaging with and attract customers. He found that one way to keep repeat customers was to trust his customers and allow them to take home their small portion of cereal with them in the morning and pay him in the afternoon. Another thing he learned from his group was it was important to display and arrange his products in a professional way to make his shop stand out against his competition. He sometimes plays church hymns in the background. One customer told him she likes to come to this shop because the music is so peaceful.
Moses follows the principles taught in the My Foundation segment of the group class. He especially found the lesson on time management to help him have continual success with his cereal business. “I always work ahead of my day.” He says he always plans 3 days ahead. In the morning he makes sure the business opens early because this is what is going to sustain him to do other things. Morning is one of his busiest times of day. He then makes sure the person in the back knows their work assignment for the day. Next he takes time to study for the college classes that he will attend that evening. Being obedient and observing the Sabbath has also helped him grow his business. “I always spend time to go to services at church on Sundays, he said.” Moses never opens his shop on Sundays. People tell him he could make more money if he was open on Sundays but he feels just the opposite. These priorities are part of the success of his growing business. He recently began supplying flour directly to a baker, which will help grow his business in a new way.
Moses is an example of a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who has put to work in his life the principle of self-reliance and has been blessed because of his obedience and diligence to this wonderful program.