While many of our readers are post-business plan, trying to figure how to fully implement what’s on that sacred document – making payroll, brokering deals, marketing to clients etc. – there are many other readers still in the ‘dreaming phase’. Perhaps seeds were planted years ago that left a deep imprint on their purpose and direction and since then these pre-BAMers keep taking notes, asking questions and scoping out the market for their product – praying and preparing for the day when the light turns green.
When I first met Rebekah at a BAM conference in 2013, her desire to network and learn from others was immediately obvious. Her gentle yet determined spirit and unyielding passion for vulnerable women keeps her pushing forward to this day. We met together again recently and she updated me on where her BAM journey is up to.
Sharing Rebekah’s story highlights what goes through heart and mind in the lead up to the birth of a BAM company. The hopes and fears, the longings and motivations, the voices of encouragement and discouragement, and the vision that keeps us moving.
When did the idea of you starting a BAM business first take root?
I was on a community development project for two years and saw the underlying problem of people needing jobs. The lack of employment or sub-standard pay in the region resulted in uneducated daughters being sent out to work. In the area I live and work in I did research on human-trafficking. I visited communities that were affected by the problem. I saw girls with little education being trafficked or lured into the big cities with the promise of jobs. I joined a team with the focus on after-care for little girls who came out of the trauma of trafficking. Now looking forward in time, I know that long-term these girls will become women who will still need good jobs.
What has encouraged you in this process?
It has been encouraging when people who I know are busy running effective businesses have made time to sit down and explain things to me and answer my questions. I am very grateful for that. There have been so many people who have taken the time to sit with me. One woman in particular really stands out. She was in a similar place to me ten years ago and now runs a successful ‘Freedom Business’. She encouraged me that it is okay to start small with just a few people and that’s been helpful. Knowing that there are people who are successful and are learning about business as they go along is really encouraging, since I too, am learning as I go.
What has discouraged you?
A well intentioned person, who had previously shared good and practical advice, questioned me to consider whether as a single women I could really make the commitment to start and run a business in this part of the world. I felt the question implied that I, as a single women, had not already seriously counted the cost before choosing this life. As someone on the field who has already had to wrestle with this issue just to be out here, I felt it was unfair because I don’t think a man would have been asked the same question. I felt it questioned the thoughtful consideration I’d already given, that had brought me to this point where I was seriously exploring BAM.
What has your research journey looked like?
After an initial two years I returned to the USA and that is when I started attending BAM conferences. I immediately saw the connect between BAM and the needs I saw on the field. After returning to the same area to work with the aftercare team, I knew that eventually I wanted to start a Freedom Business.
However, because the aftercare project was new and had so few people involved, the process of getting to BAM has been prolonged. While involved in the aftercare project, I have been able to do research on other Freedom Businesses and also industry-related research in my area. I have visited over ten BAM, B4T and Freedom Businesses. I wanted to see what was working in other places and learn from other people’s experience and get their advice on what works and what doesn’t work, as well as understand the practical aspects of setting up a business in the country I am in.
What is one of the greatest needs you have right now before the light turns green?
I’d like people with specific skills that have similar passion to come alongside and partner in this project. I need to write a business plan. I need to put on paper all that’s been in my head and do more in-depth research into the product I want to produce. I think I am finally at the time where I can step away from other responsibilities and focus on the business.
What is your greatest fear?
Failing. Making a foolish decision that would effect me and other people.
What part of your story do you wish was different?
In hindsight, for the last three years while I filled a need at the aftercare home, I can see that experience in business would have been more beneficial for my long term vision. I wish I had experience specific to the industry I’ve decided to focus on. At the same time, these years of experience in the culture and working with the type of girls I want to hire will prove to be an invaluable asset to the company. I trust that God has His reasons for me being right where I am.
Can you put your greatest hope into words?
My dream is that we would create an amazing product that sources local materials and gains a loyal, growing customer base. I hope we are able to expand to give many young women in vulnerable communities jobs where they can contribute to their family economy and have meaningful work. Ultimately the goal is to prevent human trafficking by providing jobs in vulnerable communities where trafficked girls are sourced from. The hope is to deter families from sending their daughters out to work in dangerous or deceitful situations such as prostitution or domestic labor because there are better jobs to be had locally.
Is there anything else that you want to say?
It would be so much easier to not walk this road but I really feel driven that this vision is from the Lord.
By Amy S, with thanks to Rebekah.
Amy is a regular guest contributor for The BAM Review.