Who is a BAMer? What does ‘business as mission’ really mean? Not very much without a human face and real stories of the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to build a business. At the heart of every Kingdom-focused business there is that small team of dedicated human beings, carrying their personal passions and experiences, determined to start businesses that will bring sustainable change. Here are five that are making a difference in very different circumstances around the world.
Scroll through the slides and read more about each story below.
Right on the edge of Thailand, Ray and Candace Ward have discovered a place where they can couple their entrepreneurial passion with their deep love for Burma. Located on a major trading route in Asia, they are strategically positioned to work with the growing Burmese population, as Asian trade agreements open up the border town of Mae Sot to change and development. After years of research and praying over the city, they realised that a burger restaurant would be an ideal venture to provide steady, fair-paying jobs the Burmese people so desperately need. Out from this has quickly grown a second venture, a bicycle shop that is reaching into the lives of many street children that fill the neighborhoods. With Ray’s passion for cycling it seemed a natural fit, but as he and Candace share, “This isn’t just about bikes, it’s about how bikes can help give opportunity, skills, training, hope, and a future to street kids in our area.” They are seeing these dreams realised as employees are being discipled and trained and using their experiences to open businesses of their own. More about Famous Ray’s.
With the vibrant color of Swarovski crystals, Merari is reaching through her family jewelry business into the hearts of her Latino clients. Originating in Puerto Rico, she is dedicated to cultivating a relationship with her clients, creating a family-like caring culture among her employees and reaching out to her community in numerous ways. A natural born business women, Merari took over the branding and direction of her father’s jewelry business, alongside her own advertising business, originally in the hopes of supporting overseas mission. Gradually she realised that her business could have a much broader impact for God’s Kingdom both at home and overseas. Merari has a passion for her product, believing the strategically priced, high quality jewelry that she sells, and the high level of in-store customer service her customers receive,are the keys for her business model. She hopes the good news and love of Jesus will be shared in many different ways, in the business context itself and through the community services and projects she and her employees get involved in. With an eye on the values-driven, gospel-centered culture she is passionate about maintaining, Merari has been expanding the business through new stores and franchising opportunities, with a long term plan to create retail outlets and jobs in the Middle East. Read the Forever Crystals business story in the Measuring BAM Impact report or visit Forever Crystals on Facebook.
Growing out from roots in the arts and technology, Amanda met Allen and Ayaka Lu in an area of San Francisco called “the Tenderloin”, discovering a common love for the people who dwell there. Out of their friendships with local residents the three of them soon discovered a pool of artistic talent, flourishing undiscovered in the lower income neigborhood. Together, Allen, Ayaka and Amanda brought together their passion for art and experience in eCommerce to support the work of their artist friends. Ayaka explains, “We’re not saying we want to fix you, we’re saying we have these resources, you have your beautiful lives, your beautiful story, let’s work together.” Their vision was to provide a commercial outlet that would provide jobs, develop local skills, enrich the Tenderloin community in the arts, and expand the reach of the products beyond the streets of the Tenderloin. Out of this dream came a product line they called TL Made. The TL Made brand allows the artists to focus on creating beautiful, high quality products for a much broader marketplace. Allan emphasises, “In the spirit of sustainable business, the number one thing we want people to do is to buy our products…” Buying TL Made enables each employee to be able to dream bigger and do more with their skills than they each could while working alone. More about TL Made.
Ben’s business started with his passion for coffee. Not just any coffee, but freshly brewed, high quality coffee made from the best beans. This passion grew into a coffee shop in an unreached community in Asia. As news of his quality coffee spread, excitement caught on and not only did his clientele grow, his competition also grew as others in the city began to open similar businesses. Desiring to cultivate connections and community, Ben branched out and began to create a new business from this ‘opportunity’. He offered to train these competitors, even supplying the equipment and beans they needed. Thus a company specialising in high quality barista training and importing was born. The business has taken on a life of its own, with opportunities to franchise the original coffee shop and develop a chain. With a continued focus on quality, community, and relationship, the company is sticking at it, creating a values-based culture, centered around sharing Jesus. Ben hopes that each consumer recognizes the quality of the product, and each employee and customer recognizes the value of themselves.
Tati worked for many years with Restoration Ministries, a national-led ministry reaching out into the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her passion is to see young people transformed into leaders within their own communities and be agents of transformation. As she grew into position to care for and disciple others within the same ministry, she began to see a real need. Historically supported primarily by donors outside of Brazil, the team wanted to become more sustainable, to generate income locally. Alongside this was the problem of unemployment – for local young people to become agents of transformation, they need faith, but also jobs and skills. After evaluating their own resources and the kind of services that would be most valuable to the community, they saw that training in English language skills could be a special niche. “Over the years, we have developed a high degree of competence with the English language, and the demand for English skills is high.” The team at Restoration Ministries developed an English school with a curriculum to teach English from biblical principles. Now they are able to offer semester scholarships to a chosen child from the slums with good grades in school, they employ other youth from the community as paid teachers aids, and employ members of the local church as teachers. The English School business has cultivated a new facet to the their work in the slums, giving them the ability to encourage and reach out to local families in new ways.
BAMers come from all walks of life. They might have a passion for coffee, cycling or crystal jewelry. They might be reaching out with the love of Christ to vulnerable Burmese on the border of Thailand or vulnerable people in the Tenderloin, San Francisco. They might be creating jobs, discipling employees and sharing Jesus in the slums of Sao Paolo or among unreached people in Asia.
What about your story? What motivates you in business? What are your passions?
Leave your comments below!
Bicycle image credit Famous Ray’s