In the first event of its type, the workshop brought together Anglicans in Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Pakistan, Tanzania, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the UK, and Alliance Chair Archbishop Albert Chama viewed the event from Zambia.
Focusing on access to finance through microfinance and co-operative schemes, the workshop included keynote presentations from the UK and Kenya, and interactive sessions with people talking online across the internet.
They could see each other through the video links, so they felt like a global community sharing their experiences to tackle poverty in their different countries.
Economic empowerment as a force for reconciliation was a major theme of the discussions, with Sri Lanka raising the role of the Church in a conflict-affected society. Participants from Pakistan said it was especially important in a society torn by conflict that the Church reached out across the divides and provided a ministry for everyone.
From Tanzania came lessons about providing micro-finance for people living in rural areas, and Peterson Karanja, the expert in locally based savings and loans schemes said that microfinance was about healing the poverty that had its source in broken relations in the world.
South Africa raised questions about the role of the Church in speaking out for the poor and advocating to governments about the need for support for co-operatives and microfinance schemes. And Bangladesh spoke of the importance of micro-finance in reaching the poorest of the poor, and especially marginalised groups including women.
The Alliance is taking bold steps with this webinar and reaching out to rural communities in developing countries. The aim of the event is to include those who would not usually be able to attend the workshops and conferences that are so valuable for capacity building and development.
Tom Sanderson, Managing Director of A Call to Business and former UK Director for Five Talents, and Dr Linda Shaw, Vice Principal at the Co-operative College in Manchester, the keynote speakers in London were joined from Nairobi by Peterson Karanja, Director of the Thika Community Development Trust.
Kind offers from venues across the regions have made access to these facilities possible: the British High Commissioner’s residence is being used by the group in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the Church of Bangladesh have even upgraded their internet access and telephone connections for the conference room in Dhaka. Hope Africa offices are being used in Cape Town, and Premier Christian Media have also joined the event and provided facilities for the presenter’s hub in London.
This first workshop webinar will look to set the trend for the Alliance’s future. Cutting-edge technology and innovative strategy will help reach increasing numbers of people in the most developing parts of the Communion, and enable access to capacity building tools and the shared learning of best practice. However, the first session had its problems, when a broken phone which had to be replaced in London left people around the world struggling to hear.
A full report on the Economic Empowerment webinar will be available soon and will be posted on the website. The Anglican Alliance thank all of the webinar leaders for their organisation and support as arrangements have been made, and those who have so kindly provided venues for each webinar hub.
In the picture: Participants gather in Hope Africa offices in South Africa to take part in the global webinar.