Marketplace Ministry – Koto, A Blueprint For Biblical Entrepreneurship

Marketplace Ministry – Koto, A Blueprint For Biblical Entrepreneurship


True Biblical entrepreneurship is about starting a business not for the sake of profit but rather for the sake of the gospel. About helping out the disenfranchised, the poor and the needy, building up the Kingdom of God and the lives of other, not your personal wealth.

I just saw a great example of this in action on a TV show on food. And even though it is not being done by a Christian but rather a non-Christian it is a prime example of how to do a marketplace ministry. It is not proclaiming the gospel, but it is for the good of others. Saving the poor and needy, giving to others instead of taking from them.

This story takes place in Vietnam, it started in 1996 when Jimmy Pham a Vietnamese-Australian businessman asked a group of street children what they wanted in life.

Their answer both stunned and moved him: “the skills to have a stable career in the future.”

And from their answer Koto was born and it has grown from a small sandwich shop in Hanoi to a 150-seat restaurant with its charity program backed by both local and international philanthropists.

Koto is a restaurant with a vocational training center located at 101 Xian Die Street, Tar To District, where they select 25 disadvantaged children from 16 to 22 years of age off the streets every six months to attend the vocational school, most becoming chefs, other bartenders, servers and cooks.

Koto trainees attend either front-of-house service or commercial cookery classes, which include western and Asian food preparation and pastry cooking lessons, as well as are taught English. The students are go from homeless living on the street to given comfortable accommodation and a wage equivalent to twice the minimum, plus tips, and job training that will give them a life time career anywhere.

The classes follow a curriculum accredited by Australian training school Box Hill Institute, giving Koto graduates an internationally recognized qualification.

Since it started over 250 young people have graduated from the not-for-profit restaurant and vocational training center with a 100-percent job-placement rate. Koto as given life to over 250 street children whom have been a young as 13 when entering the school. Many of those interviewed say they would most likely not be alive today if it where not for Jimmy and him starting Koto.

For Jimmy Pham, the greatest reward in life is to make a difference in someone’s life by helping them gain the skills to be self-sustaining and then to empower them to help others – ‘because if you Know One, then you should Teach One’.

Having been an owner of multiple restaurants at one time myself the story was of peculiarity of interest to me. This is such a incredible idea, start a restaurant and use it as a trade school for street kids. Use the profit generated by the restaurant to over all the cost of supporting and training the kids.

This concept could so easily be done for so many other areas of business, really just about every line of work. It just take people whom are willing to give up getting rich for the sake of the gospel. And do as Jesus said to the rich young rule, go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor.

Churches and people interested in Marketplace Ministry, should take a good look at this model, and look to duplicate it in there community.

The Koto restaurant and school website.

LA Times Article – Recipes for getting kids off the street

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  • Shannon Batts, MS, LMFT, LPC
    Posted at 02:18h, 07 September

    Lifting people out of poverty is such a radical act instead of the dominant pro-greed culture. We have it in our power to share what we have and thereby alleviate suffering-a very counterculture but necessary act for walking the Jesus path.