Posts

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

Business on the Frontiers: Creating Jobs in Nepal

A landlocked nation hedged in by the Himalayas, Nepal is an isolated frontier. With high shipping costs, an unstable government and corruption cascading from the top down, Nepal presents a challenging climate for incoming foreigners to start a business – to put it mildly. Yet there are huge needs and opportunities. There are deep labour issues, with low minimum wages, a societal caste system that gives little hope for advancement, and 40% of the workforce currently unemployed. Many are vulnerable to the deceptive promises offered by human traffickers, whose main target is children from ages 5 to 14 years. Hundreds of thousands of Nepali migrants are already working as migrant laborers in the Middle East, often in dangerous or abusive situations. There is a great need for employment and job creation in Nepal.

Jimmy and Donna

Donna saw Nepal through the eyes of an 8 to 16 year old as she lived out these formative years in Kathmandu with her missionary parents. Returning to the United states she got her Bachelors degree at the University of Colorado and later took classes at Harvard, with a view to eventually work in the nonprofit world. Jimmy grew up in an Air Force family, attended the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and went on to graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Jimmy and Donna met on a spring break mission trip while Jimmy was at USAFA in Colorado. Altogether Jimmy had 7 years of active duty service, including an assignment teaching at the Air Force Academy. During that time, they also volunteered at a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) training center.

Peter and Marit

Peter’s business story begins with chickens. It was the chickens he raised and sold on a farm growing up, to make his own money, that helped develop his mind for business. From those small beginnings, the seed for business grew and after high school Peter ran a small construction company. Read more

How They Were Funded: Three BAM Stories

Dreaming is the easy part of starting a business. Putting the pen to paper, turning ideas into action, and getting others on board to believe in the vision with you is where the real work begins. Getting financing for the business is at the crux of turning ideas into reality, where the vision grows legs and gains momentum. This is true for a startup or for recapitalising a growth-stage business.

Every business is financed differently and it can often look a bit messy. Here are three sketches that represent a small cross section of how BAM practitioners have financed their business, both in the startup phase and long term.

Garment Manufacturing – Donor-based Startup, Crowdfunded Growth

Peter and Marit and their business partners began with a vision to create jobs for an exploited and underserved segment of the population in Nepal. In 2013 their business was born, an ethical garment manufacturing business in Kathmandu. The Nepali Government requires foreign-owned businesses to invest a minimum of $50,000 per partner in business startups. To invest their $50,000, Peter and Marit opted to involve their wider stakeholder community and raised donations for the startup capital. Eighteen months into operation, the business is self-sustainable and able to keep moving towards their growth goals. The donor startup capital approach has given them freedom to take some calculated risks, which has been key in determining the direction they have taken as a company. Read more

Capitalizing Growth-Stage SMEs: Profile of a BAM Investment Company

Excerpt from the recently published BAM Global Think Tank report on Business as Mission Funding

Transformational SME – BAM Investor Profile

Transformational SME (TSME) was established in 2001, after two and a half years of market research and business plan development. Their goal is to capitalize growth-stage SMEs with patient, strategically integrated financial, intellectual and human resources to achieve economic, social, environmental and spiritual impact in the Arab world and Asia. 

TSME is a BAM company, composed of an investor-capitalized fund, which operates as a Bare Trust under UK law, and a professional fund management company registered in Canada. TSME provides primarily mezzanine loans to carefully screened, Christian-owned and managed SMEs which through genuine business as mission seek to achieve the so-called “quadruple bottom line”.

In addition to mezzanine finance, TSME provides mentoring and coaching to investee companies and a variety of technical advisory services, for example, pre-investment consulting to start-up companies, and a range of input to strategic mission partners such as mission agencies wishing to engage in BAM. They also engage in strategic talent search for key professional roles within BAM companies. Read more

Making Ice Cream, Making Disciples in Central Asia

James admits, almost as a confession, that he does enjoy a bit of number crunching… “I love taking an idea and turning it into reality,” he says, “I really enjoy the whole process of researching a business idea, doing feasibility studies, analysing the data, crunching the numbers and really trying to figure out whether a business will work!”.

James is the co-owner of an Ice Cream Manufacturing Business in a large city in “Byghistan”, a country in Central Asia. Although James grew up in a family that owned businesses, he didn’t see himself as a business person until recently and has discovered this innate passion for business as he has gone along.

Beginnings

James and his family moved to Byghistan in 2006, with a desire to work for the Gospel amongst an ethnic group indigenous to that particular city. Initially they focused on language learning and becoming established in the country. As their 2 years as language students came to an end, James and his wife began looking for opportunities that would enable them to stay longer. At first they saw running a business primarily as a way to get a longer-term visa and stay in the country, however right from the start they knew the business must be credible. Read more

Kayaking and the Kingdom in Norway

Taking in the View

At the top of the glacier there is a remarkable view…. a breath-taking scape of mountains and ice. Anne regularly leads groups to this beautiful place… and she takes them kayaking, hiking, skiing and caving too! Anne is the owner of small business NorTrex based in Nordland, just inside the Artic Circle in nothern Norway. To Anne the view from the glacier has everything to do with building God’s Kingdom in this beautiful and rugged community.

Anne has a passion for outdoor activities and also for influencing her community for Christ. “To me, being a Christian is about doing whatever you do with great passion and devotion… I really have a deep desire to point people to God by using sports and outdoor activities”.  As a teenager in The Netherlands Anne began to think about how to use outdoor activities to change and influence society and as a result she went to a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Norway in 2003 that had a focus on the outdoors.

Over the following years as a YWAMer she lead outreaches among skiers and snowboarders. As a qualified guide and outdoor leader she took DTS teams out into the wilds of Nordland to do team building and other outdoor activities.

Getting into Business

Her vision for the local community developed over the years, but initially business was not at the top of Anne’s list of things to do. However, that changed when she got involved with an innovation and entrepreneurship program at a nearby university that required her to write a business plan. “After a while, I realized that a business model might be the best way to achieve the dreams I had for using outdoor activities, it would allow me to get in touch with the community and really make an impact on the region.”  Read more

Total Commitment: Import-Export in China

For 9 years Gabriella and her husband Marco have been successfully exporting goods from China to their native Brazil.  Starting from nothing, they have built up a small company ‘Total Import & Export’, based in China. The company handles research, negotiations, quality control, logistics and shipping arrangements on behalf of their Brazilian clients. Most of their income is generated in commission, as a percentage of the value of the goods exported. Other income sources include the company’s hospitality services and product research services.

To date Gabriella and Marco have exported over 200 containers and have been profitable since the beginning. They export a diverse range of goods, everything from industrial sewing machines to floor tiles, from power tools to fashion accessories. Their company has grown through referrals from existing clients, with recent approaches from new clients in Singapore and the USA, as well as ever growing interest in South America.

However, in the past Gabriella and Marco have been somewhat reluctant to embrace this growth, in fact they have been reluctant business people. Gabriella admits, “I have actually asked some clients to keep quiet about us, I have told them I don’t want the business to grow too much!” However, recently everything has changed and as Gabriella puts it, “I have had my thinking turned completely upside-down.” Read more

Embracing the Call to Business

An Interview with Joseph Vijayam

Joseph Vijayam has had many years to think about how to integrate his Christian faith with his business life. He started Olive Technology in 1996 with a vision to support himself to do ministry, much like the Apostle Paul did when he made tents. Since then, Joseph’s understanding of ‘mission’ has developed to embrace ‘business as mission’. He describes this process as a journey, a voyage of discovering what it means to glorify God through his business life. I got the chance to talk to Joseph as he shared some of his reflections on being Kingdom-minded in business and the role of Christian business people in bringing transformation to India.

What are you most passionate about as you think about business as mission and your company today?

Well I am obviously excited about what we are doing through Olive as a company and how our own business is growing. But these days I am also thinking more and more about how we can get greater numbers of business as mission efforts started in India and around the world. I am focusing more of my energies on being a catalyst for multiplying business as mission enterprises.

If we are to see growth, I think we need to help Christian business owners understand the impact they could have, to become more Kingdom-minded in their business life. We also need to mobilize others to initiate new business as mission enterprises of every shape and size. Although of course we do need large business as mission companies, I personally think that any size of company can make an impact. Read more

SEA English Academy: A Global Franchise Business

Kim is the founder and co-owner of SEA English Academy, a business that has grown over the last 5 years into a string of international franchises. Kim is driven by a passion for high quality education and equally by the desire to make a positive impact through her business. She is a high profile business woman who seeks to leverage her experience and success to make a difference in her community and in the nations.

A long road to business

Over 30 years ago Kim had a dream which started her on a journey. Her dream was of a woman in Muslim dress, veiled from head to toe, standing in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula. She knew it was herself she saw in her dream, living amongst and serving a Muslim community. The dream was so vivid that she knew it was an answer to prayers she’d been praying, asking God to show her what she should focus on, what she should be praying for. It was a seed sown that would eventually take her to places and among people she had never imagined. Through these experiences a love and respect for Muslim peoples would grow in her heart. That passion is still at the core of everything she does. Read more

Portfolio Items