Bethany Keener
Wednesday, July 5, 2006

ALAMOSA, Colo. (Mennonite Mission Network) — In his workplace, Robert Bunn felt like just another cog in a low-paying machine. But Bunn thought he was different. He had an idea for way to use computers to find the cheapest way to manufacture organic molecules.

He just needed a plan.

This year, Bunn's business plan caught the attention of investors willing to put $5 million into the computational chemistry software he invented.

Bunn, who developed his invention while working for slightly over the minimum wage for a local Internet service provider, said he knew he’d get this far eventually, but help from Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) participant Chris Meyer jump-started the process. Meyer serves at Adams State College Business Support Center, providing free consultation to San Luis Valley residents who own or hope to start their own businesses.

Increasing the economic development of the area means residents have more control of their finances and futures, which improves the standard of living. Applying ethics to his business knowledge helps Meyer connect the marketplace with his faith in response to Jesus’ call to work for social justice.

Scott Siemens, MVS director, said North Americans should recognize that their society revolves around economics, which can be used either to empower or to oppress people. He believes Christians should be proactive in sharing their faith in the business community because “social and economic injustice won’t get changed exclusively by protests in the street.”

Meyer said through this involvement, Christians can “truly embody the concept of compassion and effectively work toward shalom.”

The business support center provides workshops and classes to help business owners succeed. Free consultation helps people like Bunn write business plans and connect with other local experts. In a world where it takes money to make money, Meyer said, a blueprint for how the business will operate is essential to finding lenders. Mary Hoffman, Meyer’s supervisor, hopes the support center services will help clients make an educated decision about whether to start a business or work for someone else.

“I’m entirely a scientist,” Bunn said. “My business knowledge is limited and I didn’t know what direction to go. That’s why I went to see Chris.” 
 
Meyer worked on Bunn’s business plan and helped him brainstorm ideas for marketing his product. Then Meyer recommended a local business consultant who was able to connect Bunn with investors who made his business, SysChem, viable.

Bunn’s success isn’t typical. In the San Luis Valley, where most of Meyer’s clients are from, unemployment is high and income is low. Hoffman said options are limited for young adults in the area. Many either work at low-paying service jobs or move to urban areas to look for employment.

Meyer’s goal is to help clients become “financially independent through their own skills and ingenuity.” But not everyone who approaches the support center leaves with an independent business.

In his time there, Meyer has helped several individuals start their own business and guided owners of exisiting businesses past various problems. He has worked with owners of restaurants, plumbers, auto shops, coffee shops and music stores. Some have gone forward with their plans. Others have decided that their ideas, or the prevailing markets, were not right for their ventures. Meyer said both results are acceptable.

“It’s better to have someone decide that than to have them get into the business and have it fail,” he said.

While Meyer works with individuals, he also is concerned about the bigger picture.

“Business, specifically big business, is inseparable from politics because business has a hand in most government policy and unparalleled representation by both elected representatives and appointed officials,” he said.

Meyer thinks “government policy is often influenced in a way that helps large companies become more profitable, while causing negative social and environmental outcomes.”

He cites reduced regulations on pollution, tax breaks for large corporations and minimum wage requirements that haven’t risen with inflation as sources of social injustice.

“In our business counseling and classes we teach social responsibility through responsible business practices,” Hoffman said. Meyer sees this responsibility carried out in small businesses because the local customer base holds owners accountable.

To Bunn, SysChem is more than just making it financially. He worked in several large corporations where he felt his creativity was stifled.

“It’s a very unsatisfying life … [when] you’re just a cog in the machine,” Bunn said. “I would encourage everybody to do what they like and if they can make it into a full-time job they’ll be much happier in the end.”

Meyer is a member of Scottdale (Pa.) Mennonite Church and attends First Mennonite Church in Sugarcreek, Ohio. He attended Goshen (Ind.) College.

 

 

 Related articles

 

 

Jonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong cultureSoutheast Asiahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5095/Jonah-and-Memee-Yang-contextualize-the-gospel-in-the-Hmong-cultureJonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong cultureGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Bekah York invites Mission Network supporters to give to new ministriesSupport new ministries!https://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5091/Bekah-York-invites-Mission-Network-supporters-to-give-to-new-ministriesBekah York invites Mission Network supporters to give to new ministriesGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
MTAL celebrates 20 years of faith and resilience20th Anniversaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5083/MTAL-celebrates-20-yearsMTAL celebrates 20 years of faith and resilienceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Three decades of transformation in Mongolian mission workMongolia updatehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5085/Three-decades-of-transformation-in-Mongolian-mission-workThree decades of transformation in Mongolian mission workGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people togetherObituaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5082/Mission-worker-used-comforter-making-to-knot-God’s-people-togetherMission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people togetherGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
MC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-StrongholdApache-Strongholdhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5076/MC-USA-files-new-amicus-brief-in-support-of-Apache-StrongholdMC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-StrongholdGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Oak Flat
Mission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awardsNewshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5073/2024-Anti-Racism-Grant-awardsMission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awardsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Finding fresh hope at PSMC conferenceChurch plantinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5071/Finding-fresh-hopeFinding fresh hope at PSMC conferenceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Albuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 yearsService Adventurehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5072/Albuquerque-Service-Adventure-shared-faith-and-communityAlbuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 yearsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476New Mexico
Ecuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewalInternational Servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5067/Ecuador-Partnership-journeyEcuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewalGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
How can I be a peace witness in time of war?Peace witnesshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4681/How-can-I-be-a-peace-witness-in-time-of-warHow can I be a peace witness in time of war?GP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Ana Alicia Hinojosa assumes role as Senior Executive for Ventures at Mennonite Mission NetworkPress Releasehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5069/Ana-Alicia-Hinojosa-assumes-role-as-Senior-Executive-for-VenturesAna Alicia Hinojosa assumes role as Senior Executive for Ventures at Mennonite Mission NetworkGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mennonites unite in Ecuador’s peace journeyPeacebuildinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5066/Mennonites-unite-in-Ecuador’s-peace-journeyMennonites unite in Ecuador’s peace journeyGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Quito
Peer mediators gain self-esteem while working for community peacePeace camphttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5062/Peer-mediators-gain-self-esteem-while-working-for-community-peacePeer mediators gain self-esteem while working for community peaceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Cape Town
Lois Buckwalter discerned a new way of doing mission among the Toba-Qom peopleObituaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5059/Lois-Buckwalter-discerned-a-new-way-of-doing-mission-among-the-Toba-Qom-peopleLois Buckwalter discerned a new way of doing mission among the Toba-Qom peopleGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476

 

 

 Related

 

 

Jonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong culturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5095/Jonah-and-Memee-Yang-contextualize-the-gospel-in-the-Hmong-cultureJonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong culture
Bekah York invites Mission Network supporters to give to new ministrieshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5091/Bekah-York-invites-Mission-Network-supporters-to-give-to-new-ministriesBekah York invites Mission Network supporters to give to new ministries
MTAL celebrates 20 years of faith and resiliencehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5083/MTAL-celebrates-20-yearsMTAL celebrates 20 years of faith and resilience
Three decades of transformation in Mongolian mission workhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5085/Three-decades-of-transformation-in-Mongolian-mission-workThree decades of transformation in Mongolian mission work
Mission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people togetherhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5082/Mission-worker-used-comforter-making-to-knot-God’s-people-togetherMission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people together
MC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-Strongholdhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5076/MC-USA-files-new-amicus-brief-in-support-of-Apache-StrongholdMC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-Stronghold



 

 

Here with purpose: Gloria Guadarramahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5075/Here-with-purpose-Gloria-GuadarramaHere with purpose: Gloria GuadarramaQ&A
Midwives in Chad help to reduce maternal mortalityhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/video/5097/Midwives-in-Chad-help-to-reduce-maternal-mortalityMidwives in Chad help to reduce maternal mortalityMidwives save lives
Meet Ben and Laurel — the new co-directors of the Paris Mennonite Center!https://www.mennonitemission.net/video/5096/Meet-Ben-and-Laurel-the-new-co-directors-of-the-Paris-Mennonite-CenterMeet Ben and Laurel — the new co-directors of the Paris Mennonite Center!Paris
Learning to listen withinhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5093/Learning-to-listen-withinLearning to listen withinMVS reflection
Jonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong culturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5095/Jonah-and-Memee-Yang-contextualize-the-gospel-in-the-Hmong-cultureJonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong cultureSoutheast Asia
Ted Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimagehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5094/Ted-Gossard-reflects-on-recent-Civil-Rights-movement-JPPTed Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimageJust Peace Pilgrimage