St Peter’s School Gets Down to Business

Pupils from St Peter’s Secondary in Bournemouth added their voices to our latest campaign last Wednesday by calling on Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State for International Development, to use the existing aid budget to support the needs of small businesses in developing countries.

After looking at some of the injustices we face in the world today and how our faith calls us to respond, the focus for all Mr Nagle’s RE lessons that day was the impact that small businesses can have on people living in poverty.

Throughout the day, pupils looked at the benefits and challenges of running a small business focusing on the story of Luz Mila from Colombia. Supported by CAFOD partner (Pastoral Social), Luz Mila received training from a local church group and joined others to work together in their own metal furniture making cooperative. The family now has a much brighter future ahead of them.

A short film, featuring Eliana (Luz Mila’s daughter – see http://www.cafod.org.uk/resources/secondary/lent-fast-day-2011 ) explained why her family had been forced to flee their home in the countryside to the city and the life-changing difference her mother’s new business has made.

But, as pupils discovered, small businesses have their own challenges.  The metal furniture making business, for example, suffers if anyone is off sick and the workers only get paid when the business makes a profit. 

CAFOD’s new cartoon ‘Road to Prosperity’ (see http://www.cafod.org.uk/business )  also illustrated other problems small businesses face such as finding it difficult to compete in world markets and getting local officials and local governments to act on their concerns.

Small businesses make up the vast majority of business activity in developing countries –and they have the power to improve millions of people’s lives and reduce inequality – but they need special support.

At the end of class, pupils were invited to sign a petition to Andrew Mitchell (Secretary of State for International Development) to ask him to use existing UK aid to support small businesses overseas by building roads for example so people can get their goods to market, investing in training, education and healthcare and supporting people to form cooperatives to give them strength in numbers.

The petition asked Andrew Mitchell to ‘act BIG and support SMALL businesses’ because they:

    • Help lift the poorest and most vulnerable people out of poverty
    • Act as a safety net for people and communities in times of global financial difficulties and
    • Give people pride and confidence in their work.

We’re only days away now from the end of the campaign (at the end of July) and St Peter’s was the last school to take part after a very busy summer.   

Thank you to everyone at St Peter’s for their fantastic support.   A special word of thanks go to Mr Herford and Mr Nagle for organising the visit and looking after me so well on the day, and to all the fab pupils who were so great to work with.  You are all brilliant! 

If you haven’t already emailed Andrew Mitchell – please do so today!  Go to www.cafod.org.uk/business

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