A million dollars to alleviate the crisis?

If you had a million dollars (and only a million), what would you do to help alleviate the pain of the current economic crisis?

Paul Watson asked this question on his blog a week ago. This his how I answered it.

I would “probably find a way to help the churches and mission organizations retool with an eye towards microbusiness and social enterprise in order to emerge from the recession equipped for long term sustainability. What about a million for 100 10k micro-loans for that purpose? Track all 100 of them and create a community blog so everyone can cheer them on and learn from them.

The need for churches and mission organizations to move from dependence to sustainability was one of my teaching themes in 2008 (Australia, Netherlands, USA, UK). Some of my thoughts can be found here. Cooperatives, Mission and the Fourth Sector, On Going Fourth. I don’t think my sustainability message was taken very seriously during year, before the economic downturn, but am hoping that the new circumstances will create more openness to think again about how we do mission.

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Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • First thing that comes to my mind is to buy a million dollars worth of food, and give it away. I know not very sustainable, but it is what came to mind.

  • joe says:

    Mmmm… well, I would set in place a nationwide outreach project to work with British homeworkers, of which there are apparently 70,000 earning less than the minimum wage. The concept would be to set up a massive co-operative with support workers to find these homeworkers and enable them to produce items which could be sold and give them a sensible wage. At the same time I’d enabling thinkers to be creative about how to develop new markets for the local, sustainable, handmade products that these women make.

  • daveT says:

    I like your idea, but again it is hard to create something with a million dollars that aims to be sustainable without looking at values…
    I’ve been reading your previous posts re: social enterprises and the ‘fourth sector’. For the last few months I’ve been working on a model of measuring sustainability on a macro level in a regional context, which has the possibility of being applied to social enterprises. The model I’ve created is based on a wide range of concepts such as; social / human capital, entrepreneurship, and community economic development.
    Here are some questions to think about:
    Is the state of the environment getting sicker or healthier? (Do the actions of this social enterprise enhance or pressure the environment?)
    Are people socially becoming more robust or are they weakened? (Do they have the ability to make decisions? Are they more connected or isolated to the greater-community? Are there skills being enhanced?)
    Is the public benefiting from the economy / business or are they at a loss? (Is it driven locally or globally? Who makes the decisions? What are the benefits?)
    Good post! It’s given me lots to think about!

  • brodie says:

    Andrew – I think the whole sustainability thing, involvement in the social enterprise sector is very important. I do howevere worry that some will see this not as something worthwhile in and of itself but merely in instrumental terms as a means to an end – be that paying the bills or “making contacts” etc.
    If the ‘church’ is to get involved in social enterprises then we need not only to think through our business models but our ethics and how our business might be in some sense a work in the Spirit.

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