Getting Paid and Giving Back

Harambee Imports teaches students entrepreneurship, economics, and generosity

Get paid to go to school? Since 2006, Harambee Christian School students have been receiving weekly paychecks for performing various responsibilities as a part of their regular school experience. Their “Bling” is automatically deposited in a virtual online bank account and can be used to purchase everything from school supplies to take out lunches with their teachers. Want to go on a special outing to the movies or Skyzone with your classmates? You might need to save up for that.

Economic literacy is an integral part of the curriculum for Harambee students. Years ago, Principal, Alex Steinman, began searching for a sustainable income stream to fund the school economy when he met the business savvy husband of a Harambee volunteer, Bill Sjoblom. Bill, a local entrepreneur already helping to import products from a Thai ministry called Hope for Hilltribes that serves women and children affected by HIV/AIDS and prostitution, proposed the idea of connecting these two ministries. Soon after, Harambee Imports was born.

Bill and Hope for Hilltribes

Bill and Hope for Hilltribes

Since its inception, Harambee Imports has generated $50,000 in revenue and has even been able to tithe $5,000 back to Hope for Hilltribes, as a part of their philanthropic goals.

Expanding businesses and young minds

Harambee Imports students participate in multiple sales throughout the year at various church services, where they sell products hand made by the women served by Hope for Hilltribes.

Over the past few years, the student business has also expanded beyond importing goods. Harambee 6th graders operate a monthly subscriber based coffee club where they ship their own custom blend of Ethiopian coffee. 7th graders operate their own spice business, and 8th graders even get experience manufactoring their own jewelry.

Adding Student Artwork to the Custom Sankfofa Blend

Adding Student Artwork to the Custom Sankfofa Blend

Each aspect of the business also affords Bill and other volunteers the opportunity to teach important economics lessons: “In the 6th grade we talk about a wide variety of business concepts – it’s an intro to business, in general. The 7th grade studies marketing & sales, and in the 8th grade we teach them about personal finance – checking & savings accounts, 401k, insurance, credit cards, stock market and even how to buy your first car.”

In addition to funding the school economy, Harambee Imports exists to educate and inspire Harambee youth in the areas of entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy, as well as provide real world experience in operating a business. The benefit according to Bill is that, “students feel the pride of ownership and a confidence that they can make an important contribution.”

We’re grateful for devoted champions like Bill and everyone who has supported the work of Harambee Imports. Economic literacy education is one of many ways Harambee exists to help inner city youth overcome challenges and become a new generation of leaders.

Business savvy? Harambee Imports wants you!

Are you passionate about business and helping others? Harambee Imports is always looking for people to teach classes on a variety of business concepts, including sales, customer service, accounting, and personal finance. Teach a class once a month or just once a year – whatever works best for you! Help is also needed coaching kids on how to sell, make change, and providing excellent customer service during church sales three times a year.

If you’re interested in getting involved in any way, contact Bill.

Michael Larson