Thrive Staff: James Woller
James Woller – International Executive Director
My Journey with Thrive
The journey that brought me to Thrive is scattered with God’s grace and sovereignty. But, that has been the case with every major life transition I have been through. What ultimately brought me to Thrive is my passion for joining a movement that helps lift others out of poverty. I hate poverty.
God’s call on my life started when I was nine and went to hear a missionary from Indonesia speak. I explicitly remember being deeply inspired by the huge banner behind him that said “If My People…” showing various cultures around the globe praying. I felt the Lord call me to pour into His Kingdom and take care of the vulnerable. The next day I started a monthly child sponsorship with Compassion International by using all of my money from cutting lawns.
After graduating from Trinity Western University with a focus in International Studies and economics, I began working Bulembu International a not-for-profit in Swaziland. I intentionally wanted to be part of a sustainable solution to help the countless AIDS orphans.
During the seven years I was with Bulembu I was able to be part of a great story of transformation. Given the nature of my role, I often worked with successful businessmen and women serving the Kingdom with their skills and talents. However, one of the key learnings I gleaned was how much more impact I could have if I furthered my development and growth through the competitive realities of the business world. After my time with Bulembu, this led to my transition from the not-for-profit sector, into business.
Shortly after, an opportunity opened for me to be a co-owner in a young start-up in the pet-industry with significant growth potential. As most entrepreneurs would attest, the journey is filled with highs and lows and risk and rewards. Throughout this time my spiritual and business mentor continuously encouraged me that the experiences, lessons, and opportunities I had were far superior to any MBA I could have taken.
In August of 2018, I was introduced to Dale Bolton and was able to visit Thrive in Kitale, Kenya. Immediately I was amazed at the impact, vision and scalability of the organization. It was then I began my transition from working full-time in the businesses to joining the Thrive team.
My experience in business has helped me develop a unique skillset for taking small organizations and ‘scaling up.’ I have played a significant role in propelling our company into one of Canada’s largest pet-care providers, with over 70 team members. Within my relentless focus to ‘scale-up’ our companies, I ensured that the company remained true to its values and put people first during rapid growth.
Today, I am blessed to take my experiences and abilities and be part of Thrive and its remarkable vision to be ‘the world’s largest, most cost-effective sustainable natural-food and holistic-health network to eradicate extreme poverty.’ Over the years Thrive has developed a unique methodology to lift lives out of poverty. It has the opportunity to truly impact the lives of hundreds of thousands.
What is your favourite vegetable?
I love peppers. They are loaded with vitamins, can be used in almost anything whether for dipping in hummus, in a salad or cooked for flavour.
What is your greatest achievement?
Being a father to three God-fearing children who are each such an amazing gift. It hasn’t been easy balancing all the pressures and responsibilities, but to see my kids grow in character and love provides me with the greatest fulfillment. And, this wouldn’t be possible without my incredible wife Rose who brings balance to everything.
What are your hobbies/interests?
Back when spare time existed I loved to travel, read, take motorcycle rides and play tennis. At the moment I love going on adventures with my family. And of course, finding time to indulge in reading.
What is your favourite quote?
My favourite verses have always been:
Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God.