In Mexico, the initiative is transforming the traditional way of doing business.
A new online platform will provide hundreds of students enrolled at Adventist universities in Mexico an opportunity to earn money toward their education every year. The platform was launched earlier this month thanks to a group of professionals at Adventist-owned Montemorelos University.
Every year, student literature evangelists, or colporteurs, work during summer vacation and on weekends during the school year, selling more than 60,000 Adventist books to nearly one million families throughout 500 cities in Mexico. Their profits go toward their tuition, university leaders said. Sales and earnings are processed through the Montemorelos University and GEMA Editores of Mexico, one of two publishing houses in the Inter-American Division (IAD).
The project began a little over two years ago to reach a social media demographic not tapped into before, said Carlos Gastelum, director of the literature evangelist program at the university called Emprendum.
“I believe that God led us [with this project] for this situation,” Gastelum said. “He took us from our comfort zones to prepare us to target for this need online. Even though we did not visualize a pandemic situation like this, God in His providence led us to start this project and complete it to be utilized in these circumstances.”
First of Its Kind
This first-of-its-kind platform for student colporteurs was conceived and created in the IAD, said Ervin González, publishing ministries director for IAD. González has been part of leading and working with the five regional unions and Adventist universities in Mexico, as well as GEMA editors, from the beginning of this project.
“Literature sales by students represent a big part of the publishing ministry throughout Mexico, and it was important for the engineers and IT specialists at Montemorelos to provide this opportunity to tap into the virtual business,” González said. “The church in Mexico, in Inter-America, and the Adventist world church all see it as another step toward impacting those online, on social media, and connecting with many who need to find hope through Adventist books and literature.”
How It Works
The new platform includes information about the colporteur program, a virtual store, and a list of participating students with their personal link, as well as testimonials. Anyone visiting the page can purchase books by choosing any of the more than 500 students currently registered in the university, Gastelum explained. Once the purchase is made through the platform, the shipping process is sent from the campus Emprendum group.
Students enrolled at Adventist-owned Linda Vista University in Chiapas and the Southeast Adventist Institute in Mérida can also participate in the colporteur program through the platform.
Sarai Prado, a second-year communication and media student at Montemorelos, who is part of the Emprendum group at Montemorelos, said she was glad to use it to sell books, something more difficult since the pandemic started.
“When I found out I couldn’t do my usual colporting, I started to think that I had to look for another way to finance my education,” Prado said. Now she’s happy that she can send a link to her contacts.
“Even though it may be a big challenge this way, we can adapt by using our creativity and means of communication. That’s the challenge,” Prado said. “I believe that we needed this tool to get to those persons that we could not reach in the traditional way of colporting.”
Whether they are in traditional colporting and virtual colporting, university students are not alone, Gastelum said. Students are guided through the process by a team of leaders and teachers with the support of parents, alumni, and friends of the institution, who can be part of supporting many students through the platform.
Gastelum reported that as of mid-April 2020, more than 200 sales had been made through the new platform.
The new platform software has been shared with several Adventist universities throughout the IAD, including Colombia Adventist University, which launched a customized version of the platform for their student colporteurs last week, González reported.
“We are looking forward to evaluating how students are doing with the platform, improving the process, and serving this summer and through the fall semester,” González said. “We look to also making it available for our literature evangelists as well.”
The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.