Apples to Apples: Measuring Progress Across an Organisation

We interviewed Timothy, a consultant with a mission sending organisation that has been developing a metrics tool to evaluate businesses across their organisation globally.

How did this metrics tool come about?

I work as part of a team that consults to and supports BAM-type entities across Asia and we were looking for a way to evaluate how those entities were performing and started to develop this benchmarking tool. At the same time another region was working on a similar idea and we realised that it would be far more effective to work on one tool that could be applied globally across our organisation. We want to be able to compare ‘apples to apples’ and get a better read on what is working well worldwide.

What is the tool’s purpose and how has that shaped its design?

Well first of all we wanted it to be a tool that would help business owners identify areas in which they could grow and improve. It has to serve those on the field at the sharp end of doing business so we have tried to make it straight-forward to use and informative. For instance, we have limited the number of questions practitioners have to answer so that it is not an unwieldy time-waster. The reports are laid out in a user-friendly way using various charts and formats so that areas for growth can be quickly pinpointed. It’s a tool that we’ll use when we are consulting with individual companies as a way of focusing on strengths and weaknesses. The results will be part of the ongoing conversation with the business owners, providing a framework for accountability and planning. Read more

The Story of a Business Plan [Audio]

How do others actually go about business planning? What does it look like in practice to integrate Kingdom and Business goals into a planning process? Listen to this 20 minute interview with business owner Steven Sauder as he shares his story of developing a business model in Thailand and mapping it out in a business plan.

Poppy Jasper interviewing Steven Sauder for The BAM Review

 

 

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

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

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

The Right Ingredients: 10 Essential Characteristics of a BAMer

Interview with Peter Shaukat – Part 2

With 15 years of experience recruiting for, mentoring, and investing in BAM companies all over the Arab world and Asia, Peter has a unique perspective into Human Resources for business as mission. Continuing our interview, we asked him to share what he sees as essential characteristics of a BAMer.

Tell us more about those character traits or criteria that you identify and look for in a potential BAMer.

This is where the rubber hits the road. We have developed an interesting questionnaire for potential BAM practitioners which get to some of these criteria. Here are ten of the top ranking criteria in our experience:

1. Well-rounded thinking
We look for a genuine, thoughtful understanding of work as ministry, with the experience and capacity to grapple with ethical issues, able to live with a certain degree of ambiguity – i.e. they are not black and white in their thinking.

2. Servant leaders
BAM practitioners, fundamentally, are called by God to a ministry of exercising servant-leadership in the marketplace – the arena which is, in our time, the most influential, agenda-setting nexus of human activity.  Understanding how to be an agent of redemption and transformation in such a context – and bringing some tangible experience to the table in doing so – is indispensable. Read more

25 Years of Business in China: Interview on Tackling Corruption

Interview with Dwight Nordstrom

Dwight, you have been in business for 25 years in China, and not just any business, you’ve been involved in manufacturing in big industries, like chemicals and telecommunications, regularly importing supplies and exporting products. How big has the issue of corruption been?

Well let me just start by saying: This is real! This is not hypothetical stuff, it’s a big issue for us. I would say I have to deal with about 25 cases a year of substantial corruption-related situations. To put that in perspective with other common issues faced by businesses, in last 20 years, across our operations of about 5000 people in Asia, I have had zero illegal drug issues, a couple of alcohol related issues, I have had two sexual harassment issues of a serious nature to deal with, but the major issue by a long way is corruption which I have had to deal with at least twice a month. Corruption is a big issue.

Can you give us an example where you’ve had to deal with someone trying to bribe you?

We’ve had situations where we’ve lost business over refusing to pay a bribe. We had a speciality chemical and the representative in a wholly-owned German company asked for a 5% kickback, with 1% going into a personal account. That was a million dollar plus account per year and I don’t even know now six years later if we’ve ever recovered the value of the account. Read more

Business as Mission: The Global Movement Today

Mats Tunehag has been speaking, writing and convening on business as mission for nearly 20 years. When he visited The BAM Review office recently, we asked him a few questions about the business as mission movement.

Mats, what have you seen changing in business as mission in the last 15-20 years?

We are seeing a reawakening of what it means to be a Christian in business in our day and age. There has been remarkable growth of people getting engaged in doing business for God and the common good. If we take a 15 year time span, there are things we have today that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Now, we have a greater common understanding globally of this idea that we call ‘business as mission’. There are significant common denominators in our understanding, even though terminology may vary from group to group.

15 years ago when you mentioned business as mission, there were many questions about ‘What is that?’, ‘Is this something we want to get involved in?’. Today you can travel to almost any country and bump into people who have heard of, or are talking about, or practicing, business as mission. That is one of the major changes globally. Read more

Franchising and Business as Mission: Expert Panel

We asked a panel of three experts with firsthand experience to give us their perspective on business as mission and franchising. Read panel bios below.

1. What are some of the opportunities you see in using a franchising approach in a business as mission context?

John: Franchising thrives by tapping into local knowledge and connections, combining them with the franchise operations system to achieve success.  Compared to setting up a wholly-owned business, franchising offers a faster rate of expansion, with a lower business risk, whilst maintaining a good amount of control from the franchisor’s (the brand/concept owner’s) point of view.

As a ‘BAM’ tool, franchising taps the knowledge and connections of the locals in the field.  This means the ‘locals’ can be blessed by being gainfully employed, whether self-employed or company employed, and earning a livelihood from the labour of their hands.  A franchise that does not require a large amount of capital investment, or does not have a complex and huge scale of operation, can be easily replicated across the mission field, penetrating even small towns or large villages.  Where the franchisee is a believer, the business can be used as forum for discipling that goes beyond preaching and teaching, but into modeling a transformed lifestyle in the workplace.  I can visualise food businesses such as kiosks or small stores and small retail outlets as possible franchise concepts in a BAM context.

Read more

Interview with BAM Author Neal Johnson

Neal — you have done all sorts of things in your life, including banking, business, diplomacy and practicing law internationally and in the US, but now you are an academic — what motivates you?

Clearly the thing that motivates me now and has for the past 20 years is my passion for Christ in the marketplace, especially business as mission.  Looking back on my earlier life, I would have given anything if someone had taken me aside and said ‘Neal, have you heard about business as mission? Do you know you can do both business and mission—you don’t have to choose between them—that God is actually calling you to do both?’  So many people of my generation didn’t find that out until they were already well into their careers or toward the end of them.

I have a passion for working with business students now because of the students who say ‘I love business, I love mission, but can I do both?’  I really want them to be able to understand at the start of their career that they can in fact do both and also to show them how they can do that.

Your book “Business as Mission” is a unique BAM book, what made you feel this particular book was needed?

There are a lot of great books on business as mission and many more on faith at work. They are excellent books, but there are not many that really address ‘how to do it’.  As I have presented the concept of business as mission at conferences, people get excited and ask ‘What do I do now? I love the concept, I want to do it, but how do I do it?’ This book attempts to address that. Read more