Meet Spark Ventures

I didn’t get my first passport until I was 31. A few years later, I’ve collected a small handful of stamps; this is partly due to Spark Ventures. I learned about Spark during the application process for a short term missions trip to Zambia. Since then, I’ve served on two of Spark’s Transformation Trips (in conjunction with North Park University’s Global Partnerships Program). While I’m in the States, I continue to support the work of Spark and Hope Ministries by volunteering my time, talents and money.

I made a special $50 “Lent” donation to Spark (read why here) that will benefit their 3rd Annual Wine Tasting & Silent Auction. Please take a moment to read my interview with Spark’s CEO & Co-founder, Rich Johnson:

How did Spark Ventures begin?

In 2006 I traveled to Africa on a volunteer vacation with two friends. We worked with Hope Ministries in Ndola, Zambia supporting children living in extreme poverty and impacted by the HIV pandemic. After seeing so much poverty and struggle, I asked Hope’s director Charles Mumba, “What is it that you need most?” He answered: “Leadership development, someone who will be with us for the long haul, and someone to help us stand on our own feet.” The idea of supporting local NGOs and helping them become financially sustainable was one that I couldn’t forget and the three of us came back to the U.S. and six months later Spark Ventures was formed.

What is one of Spark’s greatest achievements to date?

Raising the funds to build the Shelby Goldstein Schoolhouse-a 7 classroom facility serving about 350 orphans and vulnerable children with free education in Zambia.

What’s one of the funniest experiences you’ve had since working with Spark?

We laugh all the time at the office, but nothing specific comes to mind. Right now we are working on a video about the launch of our chicken farm in Zambia. I know that’s going to be a funny one.

Is there a current program or initiative that you would like to highlight at this time?

Our child sponsorship program provides nutrition, education and healthcare to some of the poorest children in the world for less than $1/day. Check it out.

What are some ways that the following groups can get involved with Spark: college students, families, religious groups (church, temple, mosque, etc.)?

We take people to Zambia on Partnership Trips every summer and we’ve got a new video about it here. It’s a life changing experience.

Also, we are looking for volunteers willing to commit 1-2 hours/week at our office. It’s a fun environment. We recruit volunteers for our events. And for religious groups, you could consider sponsoring a teacher. They provide some of the greatest support and inspiration to the children.

Anything else you’d like people to know?

Feel free to contact me at rjohnson@sparkventures.org if you have questions about anything I mentioned.

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