The Colgate family fled from England and settled in America during the Civil war. Robert Colgate, William’s father, was a farmer. William was interested in soap making and at the age of 19 he started his own enterprise with his aunt’s financial help. He produced soap under his own name but unfortunately the business was a failure.
Though William had to close down his initial business, he was determined to make a success of soap making. Encouragement came through the Bible and through a friend. In Genesis 28: 20-21 he read about Jacob who made a commitment to God as he left his home.
“Then Jacob made a vow to the LORD :If you will be with me and protect me in the journey I am making and give me food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then you will be my God… and I will give you a tenth of everything you give me.”
William prayed the same prayer. His Christian friend had advised him, “Start right and you will go well. Be a good man. Give your heart to Christ: give God all that belongs to him. Make an honest soap and god will prosper you.” William decided to honour God and give him first place in all his endeavours. He also decided that he would give one tenth of his earnings to God.
William started his new venture on Dutch Street and gave God the tenth from the very first earning he made. God was given the first place in his life and career as he had covenanted. That was the beginning of a business enterprise, William Colgate and Company, whose products have conquered the world’s cosmetic market. Its operations branched out from laundry soap manufacture into a host of other products, with in a short time.
William was faithful to God and kept his promise. As God prospered him, he began to give more to God. From ten per cent his giving gradually changed to 20 % then 30 and so on. The more he gave, the more he earned.