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Poverty, Inc.

As we introduce this new series on ‘Business Fights Poverty’ on The BAM Review blog, we want to recommend the documentary Poverty, Inc. as a great resource to understand more about this issue. We believe enterprise is the way God designed communities to rise out of poverty and develop. Business is integral to human flourishing.

Yet business does not stand a chance in many communities because of a dependence on aid. The unintended consequence of good intentions can often be the destruction of the local economy.

Aid versus trade is just one of the issues around the topic of ‘business fights poverty’. Through this theme we want to be thinking holistically about addressing physical, social and spiritual poverty. We want to grow in a Biblical view of what human flourishing means. Read more

How Business Fights Poverty: Stories from a Global Network

by Lauren Rahman

Business is uniquely positioned to respond to the needs of this world.  The Partners Worldwide global network works every day to leverage this truth for change. We recognize that business is a calling to do God’s work by creating flourishing economic environments in all parts of the world.

In places where poverty devastates communities and robs individuals of their ability to realize their full, God-given potential, we work to catalyze entrepreneurs and job-creators. Through business, these local leaders are fighting poverty and the various effects poverty has on communities and individuals—physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental.

determiner bfp

The most obvious form of poverty we encounter is physical poverty—a lack of material things that contribute to our well-being—shelter, food, clothing, medicine. Business gives families access to these things, both through income from jobs and by providing the goods and services needed to flourish. Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Hiring Dilemmas

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

One of the purposes of my business is to create jobs in an area where there is a lot of need. I am feeling the tension between hiring more people who are particularly vulnerable and desperately in need of a job versus hiring people with more skills. Have you got any advice as I try balance making good business decisions alongside fulfilling this core mission of the company?

Hopeful Hirer

Dear Hopeful,

This is a very common concern in our community, so thanks for asking! BAM has great potential in poverty relief, but most of us don’t get there, largely because we fail to ask this sort of question at the beginning.

I would start by changing the challenge from finding the right balance to managing the tension. That’s a healthier way to look at this and a lot of issues. On one side of the tension is the pressure to hire lots of people who are unemployed, many of whom likely lack skills and have a less than optimal work ethic. On the other side of the tension is the need to keep the business alive. If the business fails you won’t be able to hire or help anyone. Look at profitability as a necessary precondition for fulfilling your objective and hiring and training the vulnerable and desperately in need. Profit is like oxygen. No one worries about breathing unless it’s a problem, and then it becomes their entire focus. So make sure you structure and grow your staff so that the business has enough profit so that you are able to give to and equip the vulnerable and needy. Read more

Friday Links: Posts and Resources on Social Enterprise

Every Friday we connect you with some of our recent favourite links. This week:

Posts and resources from the social enterprise movement

10 Lessons From 10 Years as a Social Entrepreneur – Huffington Post

Ten years ago, I shipped the world’s first fair-trade avocados from small-scale farmers in Mexico to Europe – and my social enterprise was born. At the time, I’d never heard of a “social entrepreneur”. I just wanted to use my business skills to help small-scale farmers transform their lives. Now, I identify as a social entrepreneur down to my bones, and my enterprise has scaled around the globe and impacted thousands of farmers in many countries. Our mission is far from complete, but the anniversary is an occasion to reflect on the key lessons learned during 10 life-changing years.

Read more

Friday Links: Posts and Resources on Social Enterprise

Every Friday we connect you with some of our recent favourite links. This week:

Posts and resources from the social enterprise movement

The Future of Social Enterprise in 2015 – Fast Company

The social enterprise space has definitely come of age in recent years, growing by leaps and bounds and gaining momentum even as you read this. But there’s no denying that it gets harder from here… I am wresting with how we more clearly define the space without creating a silo for social enterprise and losing sight of the real victory: a time when every business is mission-based with social impact and environmental protection at its core.

Read more

Gleanings: Rediscovering God’s Solutions for Poverty

by Tim Weinhold

Over three thousand years ago God himself preemptively weighed in on one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century — how can we solve poverty?  One of his answers is found in Leviticus 19: 9-10: Gleanings.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

God mandated that the landed farmers of ancient Israel not reap their fields to the very borders.  They were to leave the edges unharvested so that the poor could come and gather for themselves these set-aside “gleanings”.

From our modern vantage point, gleanings might seem a very quaint idea from a very distant and different past. Gleanings seems to be about making a curious connection between farming and the poor which has little application in today’s modern world.

Hidden beneath its ancient agrarian trappings, however, the gleanings model has much to teach us. There is more wisdom here than meets the eye, wisdom now in urgent need of rediscovery. Two thirds of the world’s people live in poverty.  For one third, subsistence itself is under constant threat.  All this despite an absolutely unprecedented scale and variety of anti-poverty efforts over the last half century. Read more

Financier to the Poor: A Ugandan Entrepreneur

by Doug Seebeck and Timothy Stoner

Timothy Timothy grew up in a small village in the province of Gulu, which is near Uganda’s border with Sudan. His father was a polygamist with three wives. In 1979 Timothy was preparing to go to university when Idi Amin’s removal thrust the country into bloody political and social upheaval. Timothy was not able to pursue his education. At the age of 20 he found work at a Shell gas station in Gulu. He rented a room in a garage and worked at the station for the next six years.

When the rebel coalition that regrouped under the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) became a growing threat, the new government of President Museveni made a natural assumption. Given the country’s history of civil strife between north and south, they assumed that the rebels were receiving sympathy and support from the communities in the north – especially from the people of means and influence. During this period of suspicion and confusion, the army arrested 5,000 people in towns across the north, from Timothy’s tribe – the Acholis – and the neighboring Langi tribe to the east. Many were killed, including one of Timothy’s brothers who was murdered in front of him. In 1988 Timothy was put in a maximum-security prison. Read more

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