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Thrive has once again extended its giving beyond American borders as the primary donor for a project in West Africa that will help boost the economy of one of the world’s poorest countries.
Construction has already started for the Thrive Community Hall — a two-story building that will provide retail business space and a large event venue — that will help generate revenue for The Evangelical College of Theology (TECT) in Sierra Leone, Africa.
This is an exciting project to be a part of,” said Matt Bowman, Thrive’s president and founder. “Because it’s going to have our name, it’s going to give it a special meaning.”
As part of the Thrive Gives Back initiative, Bowman and his wife, Rike, partnered with two other Arlington, Texas, families — including Thrive business partner, Kurt Knapton, and his wife, Martha Lu — earlier this year to fully fund the project through their donations.
The groundbreaking for the project took place May 23, but progress has been slowed recently by rain. Nevertheless, the Thrive Community Hall is expected to be complete by Nov. 30. The bottom floor will feature seven retail spaces for small businesses to rent. The top floor will primarily feature a main hall that can be rented out for weddings, parties or other events.
The revenue generated will help fund TECT’s annual budget and help the college become more self-sufficient financially and less dependent on overseas donors and other fundraising. TECT, founded in 1964, has a noted history of training strong leaders in the disciples of community transformation, social work, pastoral studies, education and business.
I love the strategic value of helping this school,” Bowman said. “I’m a big believer in education and the power of education to lift people out of poverty. This building will help small business owners support their families. This rental revenue will help TECT be more sustainable and provide education to people to lift them out of poverty. That’s a win-win type situation.”
Thrive already gives back to small businesses in other countries through Kiva.org, a non-profit organization that enables people to act as internet-based lenders to fund low-income entrepreneurs and students in more than 80 countries “to alleviate poverty.” Thrive gives a micro-loan to a striving entrepreneur from Kiva for every business that hires Thrive.
But Bowman believes that Thrive could become even closer to the small business owners they will be helping in Sierra Leone as part of the Thrive Community Hall project.
It’s an extension of what we’re already doing through Kiva, where we support small business owners, but in a longer-term way,” Bowman said. “This is the type of deal where we could do more with them in the future. There will be more of a connection. Maybe we get to know them and their families. There is more of a personal connection opportunity.”
Knapton first approached Bowman in January about this opportunity, and Bowman quickly agreed he wanted to help support the project.
Part of the reason Bowman didn’t hesitate to jump on board was Knapton’s close connection with Dr. Reverend Samuel Kargbo, the Principal of TECT.
I trust Samuel Kargbo,” Bowman said. “He’s somebody Kurt knows very well and he’s known him for over a decade, having successfully completed several other major humanitarian and educational projects with him in Sierra Leone.”
Kargbo is the father of six sons and has served as the Principal of TECT for six years.
The site of the Thrive Community Hall will be on TECT property, strategically located on the Jui Peninsula of the Western District of Freetown on a 27-acre site.
Thrive has several connections to TECT, Kargbo and Africa. Thrive designed TECT’s website and currently has six employees based in Africa. And Kargbo’s oldest son, Max, worked at Thrive for about a year on the sales team as an outbound prospector. Max Kargbo still lives in Arlington and is close to Knapton.
Economic development has been slow in Sierra Leone, and Bowman said this new building should help the nearly 5,000 people on the north side of the Jui peninsula have a closer destination to buy groceries and supplies.
It will help TECT increase revenue generation locally, thereby reducing our dependency rate on overseas support for our operations,” said Pastor Kargbo. “More importantly, it will place TECT on the trajectory of sustainability.
The TECT Thrive Community Hall will benefit small businesses by creating the enabling environment to access secured vendor stores in a strategic environment that makes way for their businesses to blossom and thrive.
Personally, I see this project as a blessing to TECT and the Jui community. It’s a productive project and to me, it means joy unspeakable.”
Bowman also rejoices in the many ways the Thrive Community Hall will benefit West Africa. He said one day, he hopes to travel to Sierra Leone and visit with some close family friends who live there and also tour the facility that will have his business’s name and logo across the front of the building.
Thrive already makes an impact on businesses in the United States and this is a way to make an impact on a community that we otherwise wouldn’t be a part of,” Bowman said, “and I enjoy that.”
CURRENT STATUS OF THE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
The first floor of the building has been raised to wall height with clear partition of the vendor stores. Plans are now on the way to do the slabbing of the top floor.
Photos of Construction Work Done Aug. 1:
Foundation Work in Progress From June 17:
Groundbreaking Ceremony From May 23:
GOOGLE MAP VIEW: