Compassion International, Belmont Innovation Labs Pilot New Initiative to Support Visionary Entrepreneurs

Impact Teams are designed to work with global and local entrepreneurs who are making a positive change in their communities.
(L-R) Cate McLeane, Belmont Innovation Labs; Mike Cookson, Compassion International; Maureen Kaderi, Rehema House; Josh Yates, Belmont Innovation Labs; and Jey Mbiro, Sauti Village

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Yesterday, during Belmont University’s annual Hope Summit event, child development organization Compassion International and Belmont Innovation Labs announced a new partnership to pilot Impact Teams, groups of expert volunteers and mentors who will come alongside social innovators dedicated to addressing the world’s most formidable challenges. Impact Teams are designed to work with global and local entrepreneurs who are making a positive change in their communities.

(L-R) Cate McLeane, Belmont Innovation Labs; Mike Cookson, Compassion International; Maureen Kaderi, Rehema House; Josh Yates, Belmont Innovation Labs; and Jey Mbiro, Sauti Village

Josh Yates, director of Belmont Innovation Labs, explains, “Our work is focused on mobilizing social innovation ecosystems that enable human flourishing. This new pilot project with Compassion will select alumni from their child sponsorship program who are now pursuing social enterprises and connect them with leaders who can support their efforts to transform communities. It’s a dynamic initiative that will foster both an empowering environment and a supportive network to unleash enduring and impactful solutions.”

Research indicates that the primary reasons most social ventures fail are a lack of mentoring and encouragement, limited access to crucial technical assistance, and chronic underfunding. Impact Teams embed visionary entrepreneurs into communities of dedicated mentors, collaborators, and champions. Together, Impact Teams and entrepreneurs can collectively refine and propel the most promising ideas into actionable solutions poised to transform industries, sectors, and communities.

“While Compassion is deeply grateful for every one of the 2.3 million children currently in our care, we all know that there are hundreds of millions more living in desperate and unacceptable poverty all around our world today,” shares Compassion president and CEO Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado. “Compassion is compelled by a moral and a missional imperative to do more. Given the scale and complexity of the global problem of poverty, we know we will never gain the momentum needed to truly be relevant to the issue without significant, ongoing innovation and invention.”

With a strong focus on innovative solutions, Compassion plans to pilot the global phase of this new initiative. With more than 1.5 million child sponsorship alumni around the world, Compassion program graduates are dedicated to giving back and uplifting their own communities. Many of these alumni are passionate social innovators and entrepreneurs who know first-hand the complexities of issues impacting their regions and can drive contextualized solutions to local challenges.

The first two Compassion alumni entrepreneurs have already been selected:

Jey Mbiro, founder and CEO of Sauti Village

Raised in one of the largest and poorest slums on the African continent, Mbiro’s childhood was a difficult one – until he was invited into Compassion’s child development program. Now, he wants to lend that same helping hand to others as the founder and CEO of Sauti Village. Sauti Village equips children out of poverty across Africaby partnering each child with an African mentor who empowers them through loving, godly mentorship and connects them to relevant talent programs for employment.

Maureen Kaderi, executive director of Rehema House

Kaderi, also a Compassion alumna, is the co-founder and full-time executive director of Rehema House in Kenya. (“Rehema” is the Swahili word for mercy.) As of spring of 2023, Rehema House has welcomed 77 pregnant teens between the ages of 12-16 years old and 75 miracle babies. A vast number of empowerment programs and opportunities are available to the residents during their two-plus year stay before they are transitioned into a sponsorship program for an additional two to four years.

Impact Teams will consist of coaches, subject matter experts, business leaders, storytellers, investors, and Belmont students in a related field who can collectively empower the entrepreneur’s success. The pilot project aims to support social innovators, like Mbiro and Kaderi, who have already launched an initiative. In year one, the entrepreneurs will meet with their designated Impact Teams three times in person while also collaborating virtually on a frequent basis.

As Kaderi, Compassion alumna and selected entrepreneur, says, “There is power in holding other people’s hands. It’s hope that trickles down to the family, to the community, and to the world. I am a world changer because people invested in me and held my hands. Today, I am holding others’ hands as it was done to me.”

Compassion and Belmont Innovation Labs look forward to leveraging the missions and strengths of both organizations to make a tangible difference for families living in poverty around the world. To learn more about Impact Teams, visit

About Compassion International

Compassion International is a Christian child development organization working to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Founded in 1952, Compassion partners with more than 8,500 local churches in 29 program countries to deliver spiritual, economic, social, and physical care to over two million babies, children, and young adults in poverty. Ranked No. 12 in Forbes’ America’s Top Charities List in 2022, Compassion is a founding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and an accredited charity with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About Belmont University

Located near the heart of thriving Nashville, Tenn., Belmont University consists of nearly 9,000 students who come from every state and 33 countries. The University is nationally recognized for its innovative approach as well as its commitment to undergraduate teaching (U.S. News & World Report). As a Christ-centered, student-focused community, Belmont’s mission is to develop diverse leaders of purpose, character and wisdom who possess a transformational mindset and are eager and equipped to make the world a better place. With more than 115 areas of undergraduate study, 41 master’s programs and five doctoral degrees, Belmont University aims to be the leading Christ-centered university in the world, producing leaders who will radically champion the pursuit of life abundant for all people. For more information, visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Wilburn, 219-384-8177,

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