Can business, investing, entrepreneurship, and sustainability mesh with Christian faith, missions, ministry, and stewardship? For a new generation of innovative business leaders, the answer is a resounding yes.
In the move toward combining profit with purpose, Jon Porter serves as a worthy role model. By listening to and following God’s direction, the 33-year-old from Orange, California, is making a profit thanks to his business acumen. But he’s also making an impact for Christ—and making life-changing impacts for a community of people in need.
Stay in the Business Field, God Told Jon Porter
As an undergrad at the University of Southern California, Porter took a short-term mission trip to Haiti, where he volunteered in an orphanage. That experience rocked his world, leaving such an impression that suddenly it seemed impossible to pursue anything else.
“I was tempted to forget about the whole business major,” Porter told Outreach Magazine. “I didn’t give up on my degree; it just didn’t seem like a priority anymore.” He feared achieving the American dream and landing a high-paying career yet making no significant, lasting difference in the world.
That’s when God stepped in—at an unusual venue—to guide Porter’s decision-making process. He had an encounter with the Holy Spirit in a parking garage, of all places, where God directed him back onto a business path. To Porter, that was startling because the corporate world seemed less sacrificial and less spiritual than going into missions.
To compound that confusion, his next career step steered him into an ironically materialistic setting. As an intern with the executive-compensation division of a large HR consulting firm, Porter was essentially “helping Fortune 500 CEOs get paid more money.” Before he accepted a full-time post-graduation job offer from that firm, though, God stepped in yet again.
Porter finished college a semester early, so he had six months of free time before entering the working world. That’s when he decided to head to Africa, in 2011.
Rwanda: ‘God’s Master Plan’ for Jon Porter
While in Rwanda, Porter volunteered with Karisimbi Business Partners, a “socially motivated” firm specializing in enterprise development. He learned about helping international investors productively deploy their capital throughout East Africa. Most importantly, Porter obtained hands-on experience while combining his passion for serving with his calling for business. The takeaway? “This was God’s master plan all along,” he explained.
Based on those positive experiences, Porter declined the lucrative corporate job waiting for him back in America. Instead, he stayed in Rwanda and began consulting with U.K. investors who wanted to make lasting, sustainable contributions in the continent.
In 2015, Porter had the opportunity to purchase the assets of a defunct creamery in the city of Kigali. After successfully applying for a grant from the Dutch government, he completed the purchase, rebuilt the operation, and rebranded the business as Maska Creamery.
Next, the new business owner needed employees. That’s when God opened more doors, providing dozens of qualified workers whom society regularly overlooked.
‘God Was Nudging My Heart’
In Rwanda, Porter was connected to a deaf woman who had struggled for decades. Because she lacked the means to communicate, the woman had been taken advantage of and abused. Porter wanted to assist her but knew that handouts alone wouldn’t be effective for the long term.