7 BAMers Talk About Why Their Industry is Strategic

We’ve been taking an in depth look at BAM companies in the IT Industry in the last few weeks. Here’s what two BAM company owners said about how IT is strategic for business as mission:

The advantage of an IT company for a B4T is that programming is a skillset that transcends borders and language. Code is the same everywhere and can be used anywhere in the world, so in theory an IT company can be set up anywhere in the world as long as there is electricity and an internet connection. It is an industry that is and will continue to be in high demand.  – Yumi, IT, Vietnam

Technology has real implications for humankind, it can be used to enlighten the world and make it a better place, or it can destroy humanity. As Christian technologists we have the awesome opportunity to bring honor and Glory to God in all that we do. We are here to reflect His character in ourselves and in the technology we build. – Joseph, IT, India

BAM practitioners are in many different industries. Here are other BAMers sharing why they have found their particular business strategic: Read more

Pioneering an IT Company in India: Interview with a Founder

It was after a survey trip to a small city in India 20 years ago that Ajay and colleague Jason saw a desperate need for someone to live out the gospel there. They both committed to relocate with their families and went about assessing the needs and opportunities there. One great need in the community was to provide jobs for the skilled IT workforce so they wouldn’t need to move away for work in the bigger cities, which was separating families. Ajay and Jason co-founded an IT business, and over the last 14 years their understanding about how God can use business has significantly evolved and expanded, along with their business model. We asked Ajay to share some of his experiences.

What is the goal of your company?

We say that our mission is to be the best IT company in our region. Ultimately our goal is to do everything with excellence, to exceed customers expectations at an affordable cost and for our staff to see their work as something that they can take pride in. They thrive in serving one another through serving the client. Through that process God is giving us amazing opportunities to share with them what it is to know God and to follow Him. For example, one of the key employees is going through a very difficult time emotionally, and we have the opportunity to share that healing and peace can only come through Christ. So our goal is to have an impact holistically: providing a service with excellence, giving the staff the opportunity to thrive, and being able to talk about life and family – and being able to point them to Christ in the midst of that. We are trusting that God will use the way we do business and build relationships every day in our company.

Why did you choose the IT industry?

The city where the company started is a relatively small city with very little direct influence of the gospel, there is no gospel ministry and very few believers. Even constructing a church building would not be welcome in this place. We saw a need for the gospel in this city so we explored the question, what would be an opportunity here? Read more

Tips for Hiring and Staff Training in the IT Industry

by Joseph Vijayam

Information Technology is a knowledge industry that relies almost entirely on the knowledge of people working in the industry. If you are setting up an IT company you will need to look for people with skills and experience that are aligned with the services you aim to provide.

If you are unable to find people with the right skills and experience, I suggest elevating the skills of people living in your region by setting up an IT training institute. I assume you are an IT professional and that you would have the skills required to teach. Additionally, you might want to recruit one or two staff members or volunteers who are able to teach IT as you prepare a workforce. IT training in itself can be a profitable business, depending on the ability for students to pay for courses, and you can ultimately benefit from your end product of trained IT professionals. From among this newly trained workforce you can recruit your staff for providing IT services in the long run.

I have seen the rise of the IT industry in India over a period of 30 years. It all began with the establishment of numerous IT training institutes across all major cities of India back in the early 1980s. Some of the same training institutes moved up the value chain in the IT industry and have now become global IT businesses. There is now no dearth of trained IT professionals in India, but it all started with a few entrepreneurs who set up institutes to train people who often ended up working with the same team responsible for their initial training. Some examples of Indian companies which followed this model are NIIT, Satyam (now Tech Mahindra), HCL, and so on. Read more

God’s Technologists: Learning from Eighteen Years of Olive Technology

Interview with Joseph Vijayam

Joseph VijayamJoseph Vijayam founded Olive Technology 18 years ago. He is the CEO and Managing Director of the company, now based in Colorado, USA and Hyderabad, India. We asked Joseph what got him started, what are some pros and cons of being in IT, and what advice does he have for up-and-coming BAMers looking at the IT industry.

What got you started in business as mission?

My inspiration is Paul in the Bible. Like Paul I wanted to be involved in evangelism and had a plan to use IT as my “tentmaking skill”. With that in mind, I studied Computer Science in college. I started out in the workforce as an employee in a company, but the constraints of my job made it impossible for me to be involved in the kinds of ministry activities that I was interested in. I decided then to become self-employed as a software consultant. The first project I signed required a team of three programmers in addition to myself. Now, I had to incorporate a business entity to employ the other programmers. The first project led to another and then another and soon the team size grew and the business became established.  Since my goal was to be a tentmaker, I started to ask the question, “How do I use this company as a platform for ministry?” That led me down a path that eventually positioned Olive Technology as a BAM company. Read more

Seven Keys to Finding Hidden IT Aptitude in Developing Countries

by David Stone

I think there are seven keys to finding the right people with an aptitude for IT in an underdeveloped country:

  1.           Keep relationships primary
  2.           Share your motivation
  3.           Develop a very close Friend
  4.           Be a close friend to Christian expats and their NGOs
  5.           Know the owners of other local IT companies
  6.           Serve the head of the IT department at local education institutions
  7.           Empower nationals to hire other employees

I co-founded an application software company in the USA in 1991. We’ve been ‘impact sourcing’ programming jobs in Afghanistan since 2007. We currently have six programmers in Kabul helping maintain and customize our application.

My journey to Afghanistan began in 1978 as a college Senior. In August of that year, I felt that God called me to business, missions and Afghanistan. The first two calling unfolded immediately after graduation. I had to wait 24 years for Afghanistan. Read more

What Got You Started? Software Development in Vietnam

Ben and Yumi co-founded an outsourcing and software development company in Vietnam, joining Vietnam’s rapidly growing tech industry. We asked them what got them started, what are some pros and cons of being in IT, and what advice do they have for up-and-coming BAMers looking at the IT industry.

What got you started in business as mission?

After working and living abroad in Costa Rica for two years, we weren’t interested in returning back to North America to settle back down into a comfortable lifestyle. We felt that God had greater plans for us but were unsure of what that was. We both had extensive work experience in IT and a strong interest in starting a business in Asia but our desires were divided and we were stuck. So we stopped and dedicated time to pray and worked together on creating a mission statement for our family. God began to speak through this process and we went from building a business that would make us rich and glorify us while trying to be intentional, to wanting to build a business that was about relationships that would glorify God. We wanted to make Him known while being profitable so that we could meet the real needs of the people – and our needs as well. The business ideas went from us-focused to ‘God and the people He loves’-focused. After further seeking, we had the peace and go ahead to go to Vietnam to start an IT outsourcing business. Read more

How the Sacred-Secular Divide Influences Attitudes to Business in Asia and Australia

We asked people engaged with BAM around the world to share how they see the sacred-secular divide affecting thinking in the Church in their country – and how this influences engagement of Christians the business sphere.

Perspectives from Asia and Australia

Rod St.Hill – Australia

The sacred-secular divide is alive and well in Australia. A common complaint from Christians business people is, ‘My pastor does not understand me’. Pastors rarely visit their business people at their place of work. There is anecdotal evidence that perhaps 40% of Christians in business are not engaged in their local church because they don’t see church as being relevant to them. Christians in business often feel that the church has a somewhat cynical attitude toward them – ‘You make the profit and hand it over to the church’ as if that will somehow sanctify it. There are also Christians who show hardly any evidence of Christian belief in their business practices.

Yet all is not doom and gloom. There is growing interest in ministries such as Kingdom Investors, founded by businessman Dave Hodgson, who is encouraging business owners to be connected with, and supportive of, their local church and to infuse their businesses with Kingdom principles. Last February, the Global Marketplace Exchange, pioneered by Pastor Sean Morris and Peter Kentley was launched with a consultative meeting near Melbourne. Some 170 leaders from ten ‘domains’, including church and business, gathered to begin working together to transform our nation. In addition there are now at least four Christian university-level institutions that offer degrees that integrate faith and business. There is much to be done to break down the sacred-secular divide, but there are positive signs that God’s people are moving as they are in other nations. Read more

BAM Journeys: Three Practitioners Share How Their Thinking has Changed

We asked three BAM practitioner at different stages of their BAM journey to share how their thinking has changed enroute.

Carlos in West Africa

My wife and I initially came to West Africa as ‘traditional missionaries’. After 3 years of pastoring a church we came across some real challenges. The country where we live is 95% Muslim. Since we’ve been here, we have witnessed a number of evangelical churches being torched and ransacked. Muslim background believers (MBBs) have lost their jobs, their families and have even been physically abused because of their faith. That is not the only challenge, anyone that has spent any time in Africa will inevitably be confronted with the harsh realities of poverty. Jobs are already scarce for any African, let alone an MBB. Unfortunately, most churches are not setup to meet this need.

We started praying for another way to serve Jesus here. That is when the Lord put in our hearts to start a business. With a business we could provide jobs to MBBs and pre-believers, having contact with them eight to ten hours a day in a non-threatening environment. Read more

Pray, Give or Go to Nepal? Pray for BAM Companies!

The Church worldwide has been mobilized to pray and give generously to Nepal in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake there ten days ago. The worst earthquake in Nepal since 1934, this disaster has already claimed over 7000 lives, with fears of more to come as disease, isolation and displacement take their toll.

As you pray and give, please pray especially for the BAM companies in Nepal, many in the worst affected areas. We know of at least 15 BAM companies in Katmandu and beyond, including those in:

  • Aquaponics
  • Garment Manufacturing
  • Information Technology – Cloud services
  • Information Technology – Software development
  • Guest House
  • Coffee Roasting
  • Coffee Shop/Cafe
  • Food Production and Retail
  • Outdoor Equipment Retail
  • Jewelry Making
  • Trekking

Please pray for these companies – the business owners, their teams and local employees. Pray for wisdom, peace and provision as they aid others, rebuild and try and get back to ‘business as usual’. Read more

How the Sacred-Secular Divide Influences Attitudes to Business in Europe and Africa

We asked people engaged with BAM around the world to share how they see the sacred-secular divide affecting thinking in the Church in their country – and how this influences engagement of Christians the business sphere.

Perspectives from Europe and Africa

Patrick Kuwana – South Africa

In South Africa there is a church on almost every street in residential areas (especially the poorer township areas) and in fact in some areas it’s two to three in the same street. The latest statistics show that around 80% of the population profess to be Christians and yet South Africa is listed 67th on a list of 175 countries/territories on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (number one being the least corrupt). South Africa has also been listed as one of the countries with the highest Gini co-efficient (which measures the gap between the rich and the poor) meaning that economic inequality is at staggering levels and continuing to grow and is causing great racial division due the historical legacy of apartheid. This economic inequality is fuelling the high crime rate. Read more