Six BAM Views from the Continent of Africa

We asked people working on the front-lines of BAM in different parts of Africa to share some of their experiences and perspectives. They see business as a powerful means to share the message of the Gospel in the marketplace, deepen the impact of Jesus’ teachings on society, tackle evils such as poverty and corruption and mobilise the next generation of African Christians to transform their own nations. Here are six BAM views from Africa:

 

BAM is crucial in South Africa as a key to two major challenges: discipleship and economic empowerment. South Africa is said to have a high percentage of Christians, however, like many other parts of the world, sin is a key challenge. Corruption, sexual immorality, crime and other evils are on the rise, indicating that Christianity has not been making the kind of impact on society as it should. Business as mission could therefore provide an avenue for regular discipleship in the marketplace, as believers model Godly character and leadership.

South Africa also has a high percentage of poor people, although it is Africa’s most advanced economy. BAM – especially ‘BAM at the base of the pyramid’ – may be the key to large scale sustainable economic empowerment, particularly through the establishment of SME sized companies in rural areas.

Henry Gwani is originally from Nigeria, now working in BAM in South Africa Read more

Kingdom Impact in Kenya: How Sinapis Equips African Entrepreneurs

Sinapis was founded in Kenya in 2010 with a mission to empower aspiring entrepreneurs in the developing world with innovative, scalable business ideas by providing them with a rigorous, Christ-centered business education, world-class consulting and mentoring services and access to seed capital. Through these means, they strive to create Christ-seeking business leaders, sustainable employment and an improved quality of life for many that they may glorify God in service of His people.

Sinapis runs an Entrepreneurship Training Program that includes 16 weeks of curriculum that covers customers, financials, human resources, operations and Kingdom Business. Upon completing the program, members of each graduating class are invited to submit their business plans to Sinapis. After a thorough selection process, entrepreneurs with the highest potential proceed to Sinapis’ annual Business Plan Competition, a live pitch event that brings together business owners, investors and other individuals in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and culminates with one entrepreneur winning a $10,000 grant. Outstanding finalists in the Business Plan Competition advance into an intensive 6-month accelerator program known as the Fast Track Fellows Program. Entrepreneurs in this program benefit from key resources such as customized mentorship from successful business owners, professional advising from experts in law, branding, accounting, etc., and one-on-one support from world-class management consultants. For those ready to raise investment capital, Sinapis matches them with early and growth stage investors. Read more

Business as Mission: A Perspective from Africa [Video]

Dennis Tongoi speaks about the opportunities for Business as Mission in the continent of Africa.

This video was recorded at the BAM Global Congress in April 2013. Read more

Streams in the Desert: Sowing Seeds for Transformation

Sami is a man with a dream for a nation. It is a dream that took root in the dry and dusty ground of an Islamic country in the early 90s and that has grown up over nearly 20 years through both success and adversity. His vision is to raise up servant-leaders in the marketplace, a group of national business and community leaders that are following God’s ways and shaping a nation from the inside-out. The dream is for nothing less than transformation – of people and values, of communities, and ultimately of a nation. This is a nation that we will call “Gongori” – an impoverished state that is crippled by corrupt leadership.

This is not a dream for the short-term. When Sami and his team first started their business in 2007, it was within the context of a 30 year long strategy to disciple Gongori leaders in Godly principles and with years of preparation and planning behind them.

However, for all the long-term planning, tough lessons can bring about necessary adaptation! Lately, Sami has been thinking a lot about the Biblical account of Joseph and how he was able to bring influence from the ‘inside’ in a nation because he had an ‘Egyptian face’. The unique challenges of working in a country like Gongori have paid a heavy price and Sami is now embarking on revised strategy based on what he is calling the ‘Joseph Approach’. Read more

BAM Job Opportunities in Nepal and Southeast Asia

BAM Company Jobs

Software Developer / Business Partner – IT Company in Nepal

We are looking for a software developer / business partner to join a company with 4 current shareholders. We produce a product that manages pharmaceutical supply chains in developing countries. We have an office in Kathmandu with about 10 Nepali staff, 5 of whom are regularly coding. Our sister company has an office in New Zealand, and we also have partners in the UK and Australia. The job would involve some software development work yourself, but with a greater focus on training, mentoring and managing the work of other staff.

Download detailed job description

Account Executive – Web Essentials in Cambodia

Passionate about developing software and developing people? We are looking for an experienced Account Executive to join our Switzerland or Phnom Penh based team. You will play an integral role in growing our sales within Switzerland, Germany and Europe and opening new markets for our services. We are pioneering fair trade software development and we are looking for like-minded people to come onboard. We know you will build life-long friendships and be a part of a rewarding vision to build up people to live out their God-given capacity within a fun and challenging environment. 

Link to detailed job description

Read more

Business in Brick Lane: Reinventing Church in Multicultural London

“I’ve had more significant conversations in this coffee shop in one week, than a whole year working in a church building,” tells Paul Unsworth. “We need new models of church where people can have a sense of belonging regardless of what they believe.”  In a busy, multicultural and popular street in East London, this Baptist pastor is re-inventing church. He and his team started a commercial coffee shop – as a church. They learned some keys on the way.

The coffee shop opened its doors June 2012 in Brick Lane. In this area twenty thousand people come to visit the shops and market on a regular Sunday. Many kinds of faiths are shared, but Christians are hardly to be found. While walking here one Sunday, Paul knew, ‘We have to be here, among these crowds’. They named the coffee shop Kahaila, which is a word play with the Hebrew word Kahila, meaning community, and the word Chaim/hai, what is connected with ‘life’. These words represent their purpose of bringing life to the very centre of the community: to plant a church as a café. Paul, “Traditional churches work well for Christians, but we want to explore how we model a church that engages people outside the church. Those kind of people who see church like they do a red telephone box – an amazing building that’s part of our heritage. They don’t want these telephone boxes removed and love to see it standing somewhere in a street, but they will never use it. They look at church the same way: they love the architecture and the fact that it is part of British culture, but it’s not for them.”

No business, no mission

The whole coffee shop endeavour did cost a lot of money and effort. Over a hundred thousand pounds were invested; partly donated and partly borrowed. This meant that they had to run the business well in order to raise an income, and to attract clients. Their aim was to become one of the best coffee shops in London and they seem to be well on their way: nearly four times as much profit was made as initially anticipated. But what’s more: people are finding them and recommending Kahaila on internet for their good coffee, food, service and atmosphere. While regularly adding the comment online: ‘Oh, and these guys are Christians’. Read more

The Viking Spirit: BAM In and From the Nordic Region

We share 4 short excerpts of BAM stories both in and from the Nordic region. For the full case studies, see the BAM Global Think Tank report on BAM In and From the Nordic Region.

BAM In the Nordic Region

Hans Nielsen Hauge: Changing a nation 200 years ago

We might call Hans Nielsen Hauge the first social entrepreneur in the Nordic countries. Indeed it would also be true to say that he carried the values of business as mission as he clearly had a huge impact on individuals and society in financial, social and spiritual aspects.

As a serial entrepreneur he started as many as 30 companies in Norway within a period of 4 years in 1800-1804 – that is almost one company every second month. Busy man! These companies were not micro enterprises but rather larger scale industries such as factories, mills, ship yards, mines and printing presses.

Hauge traveled – mostly by foot – throughout most of Norway, from Tromso in the north to Denmark in the south. He held countless revival meetings, often after church services. In addition to his religious work, he offered practical advice, encouraging such things as settlements in Northern Norway and helping people start businesses.

As a social entrepreneur Hauge wasn’t motivated by becoming rich and did not pay dividends to shareholders. He was rather motivated to serve society. He plowed money back into the business and then turned operations and ownership over to others and moved on. His followers started many other industries in turn and in a period of extreme economic crisis, when almost all the prosperous timber barons and iron works owners went bankrupt because of the Napoleonic wars, he showed a way to prosperity for anyone with initiative. This led to a new rise in Norwegian economics some years after the independence in 1814. In this matter Hauge was but one of several contributors, but he was one of the most influential. He was especially influential in the way he combined economics and Christian morals: modesty, honesty and hard work, among others. Read more

Laboring in the Dark: BAM in Iran

Iran is an extremely hostile environment for any endeavor that is not instigated and controlled by the Islamic Government and its sympathizers. This creates significant challenges for the Christian Community to create and operate businesses that promote Biblical values. In addition, due to the xenophobia of the Islamic Government and the imposition of International Sanctions, it is very difficult for the larger world wide Christian Community to provide any assistance or support.

Internally, the Christian Community is viewed as a threat to the Islamic Government and to openly identify oneself as part of that community is to invite persecution and potential death. Thus any identification of individuals or businesses as being an expression of the Christian Community is extremely dangerous and invites opposition.

In the area of economic activity, any enterprise of significant value is controlled and managed by the Islamic Government and is subject to its Islamic rules and regulations. Thus, to create and operate a significant business enterprise that is not owned and operated by a supporter of the Islamic Government and its values is nearly impossible.

However, despite the challenges of doing business in such a hostile environment, there are business examples to learn from. The BAM in Iran report shares a summary of findings from a survey of 25 businesses in Iran. Many of these business are smaller in scale and tend to stay under the radar. Read more

Business as Mission in Turkey: Opportunities and Challenges

Turkey is a country that defies easy classification. A famous (and cynical) British diplomat long ago said “Turkey is a country of enormous as yet unfulfilled potential. It always has been. It always will be.” As the country lurches toward authoritarianism this seem depressingly accurate. But while the challenges that underlie these observations call for sober reflection, they are also reminders of the need for BAM and for a clear and credible witness for the Kingdom in this remarkable and complex society.

Turkey is now the world’s 16th or 17th largest economy. It has grown enormously in the last 20 years and its trade with Europe, Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East are all significant. Turkey manufactures white goods, automobiles, textiles, glass and F16 engines and fighter jets. Turkish construction companies dominate throughout the Caucuses and Middle East and European trade shows now feature many Turkish brands and joint ventures. 

Turks generally view their country as an emerging powerhouse and have designed regulations accordingly. They want foreign investment, but they want it on their terms. The regulations for foreign investment here are designed around multi-million euro investments and intentionally build barriers for small scale foreign companies – see the Invest in Turkey website for the official guide for foreign investors. This is a great challenge for BAM by foreigners. Small scale startups are possible but difficult. Unfortunately, the current political and economic climate also makes large scale investments much more risky than they were just two years ago. So proceed with caution. Read more

Muslim Village Transformed Through Prayer, Business People and Owls

It was warm and humid. One may say almost too hot for a Swede. But the story that emerged was more than cool.

I listened to the mayor of a small Muslim village. We sat outside his house, drank tea and nibbled on fruit, nuts and sweets. He was enthusiastic and composed. As a devout Muslim he had come to appreciate Christian business people in a way that surprised him. There is a long and sometimes violent history of severe distrust and tension between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia.

The village used to be quite poor. Rats ate 40 percent of the crops every year. These creatures also spread disease. Collaboration for irrigation was non-existent. There was a lack of entrepreneurial spirit and seemingly no-one thought about praying for a difference.

But some good friends and colleagues of mine visited the mayor and his village. They are Christian business people, they wanted to help and they wanted to build bridges across a religious divide.

At first the mayor declined. Why did business people come, and not charity workers or government people? On top of that, these people were Christians – not Muslims. But one Christian businesswoman suggested that they at least could pray. She said that prayers make a difference; yes God can make a difference. It was agreed. Something happened and it became a turning point. The mayor invited them to come back and they did. Read more