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Business as Mission and the Three Mandates

We know that businesses can fail and hurt people (Enron) and harm nature (BP). But it is equally true that we all depend on businesses, and that they can do good. The woman in Proverbs 31 was an astute businesswoman whose ventures served individuals and her community.

The Quakers practiced a kind of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) long before academics developed the term. Their motto was ‘spiritual & solvent’. They served God and people in and through business.

Even Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations and sometimes called the “father of capitalism”, said that business should operate within a framework of fair play, justice and rule of law, and that businesses exist to serve the general welfare.

The computer pioneer Dave Packard said: “Many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money. While this is an important result of a company’s existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being. People get together and exist as a company so that they are able to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately – they make a contribution to society.” Read more

A Restaurant with a Mission: Excerpt from ‘BAM Global Movement’

“Through working in my business, I’m experiencing more of God,” says Faouzi Chihabi. “I have my faith in my head and heart, but now it’s also flowing through my hands.” Faouzi studied theology to become a minister, and then worked on issues concerning vulnerable youth for both the Dutch and European governments. Presently, he owns the trattoria Borgo d’Aneto. On the riverside in Rotterdam, his former work experience and his faith merge in this restaurant-with-a-mission.

The latte macchiato is poured carefully. The Italian bun is crisp; not too soft and not too hard. The plate nicely decorated with fresh vegetables. Faouzi trains his crew to keep an eye on the customer. In every area of this restaurant, they pursue a high-quality standard.

Borgo d’Aneto is an approved apprenticeship for youth “at risk” who attend special schools offering vocational training. Faouzi reacts strongly to the assumption that it is an extra challenge to maintain high quality with these young people working in his restaurant. “These boys and girls might have a low IQ, but it’s the biggest misconception that they are not socially adept. They are actually very sensitive and intuitive.” He sees them flourish in his restaurant, although sometimes a meal ends up in the trash. “As a business we cannot afford to put something on the table that doesn’t meet a good standard. When a plate is thrown in the trash, these youngsters might feel they themselves landed there, but they learn through failure to continue, despite a setback. They realize their contribution matters, and that realization causes growth.”  Read more

Business in Brick Lane: Reinventing Church in Multicultural London

“I’ve had more significant conversations in this coffee shop in one week, than a whole year working in a church building,” tells Paul Unsworth. “We need new models of church where people can have a sense of belonging regardless of what they believe.”  In a busy, multicultural and popular street in East London, this Baptist pastor is re-inventing church. He and his team started a commercial coffee shop – as a church. They learned some keys on the way.

The coffee shop opened its doors June 2012 in Brick Lane. In this area twenty thousand people come to visit the shops and market on a regular Sunday. Many kinds of faiths are shared, but Christians are hardly to be found. While walking here one Sunday, Paul knew, ‘We have to be here, among these crowds’. They named the coffee shop Kahaila, which is a word play with the Hebrew word Kahila, meaning community, and the word Chaim/hai, what is connected with ‘life’. These words represent their purpose of bringing life to the very centre of the community: to plant a church as a café. Paul, “Traditional churches work well for Christians, but we want to explore how we model a church that engages people outside the church. Those kind of people who see church like they do a red telephone box – an amazing building that’s part of our heritage. They don’t want these telephone boxes removed and love to see it standing somewhere in a street, but they will never use it. They look at church the same way: they love the architecture and the fact that it is part of British culture, but it’s not for them.”

No business, no mission

The whole coffee shop endeavour did cost a lot of money and effort. Over a hundred thousand pounds were invested; partly donated and partly borrowed. This meant that they had to run the business well in order to raise an income, and to attract clients. Their aim was to become one of the best coffee shops in London and they seem to be well on their way: nearly four times as much profit was made as initially anticipated. But what’s more: people are finding them and recommending Kahaila on internet for their good coffee, food, service and atmosphere. While regularly adding the comment online: ‘Oh, and these guys are Christians’. Read more

The Viking Spirit: BAM In and From the Nordic Region

We share 4 short excerpts of BAM stories both in and from the Nordic region. For the full case studies, see the BAM Global Think Tank report on BAM In and From the Nordic Region.

BAM In the Nordic Region

Hans Nielsen Hauge: Changing a nation 200 years ago

We might call Hans Nielsen Hauge the first social entrepreneur in the Nordic countries. Indeed it would also be true to say that he carried the values of business as mission as he clearly had a huge impact on individuals and society in financial, social and spiritual aspects.

As a serial entrepreneur he started as many as 30 companies in Norway within a period of 4 years in 1800-1804 – that is almost one company every second month. Busy man! These companies were not micro enterprises but rather larger scale industries such as factories, mills, ship yards, mines and printing presses.

Hauge traveled – mostly by foot – throughout most of Norway, from Tromso in the north to Denmark in the south. He held countless revival meetings, often after church services. In addition to his religious work, he offered practical advice, encouraging such things as settlements in Northern Norway and helping people start businesses.

As a social entrepreneur Hauge wasn’t motivated by becoming rich and did not pay dividends to shareholders. He was rather motivated to serve society. He plowed money back into the business and then turned operations and ownership over to others and moved on. His followers started many other industries in turn and in a period of extreme economic crisis, when almost all the prosperous timber barons and iron works owners went bankrupt because of the Napoleonic wars, he showed a way to prosperity for anyone with initiative. This led to a new rise in Norwegian economics some years after the independence in 1814. In this matter Hauge was but one of several contributors, but he was one of the most influential. He was especially influential in the way he combined economics and Christian morals: modesty, honesty and hard work, among others. Read more

Twists and Turns on the Journey to Launching a Business in Romania

For Ryan Crozier, four passions remain constant: God, his wife, Romania and trafficking prevention. As a natural-born entrepreneur there have been many other passions and interests that have come and gone, but those are the ones that define his life. At age 12, Ryan fell in love with Romania on a short-term mission trip with his Dad that would change their lives forever. At 18 as a college student, the seeds for anti-trafficking work were sown as he listened to a visiting speaker from India recount the plight of children vulnerable to traffickers. His blood boiled as he listened to the woman tell stories of rescuing children from abuse. She compared their work to standing at the edge of a cliff trying to catch kids as they came off and not being able to catch them all. All Ryan could think about was why there wasn’t someone further back stopping children going anywhere near the cliff edge. It is a question that has helped shape the course of his adult life and it is the reason that today he is leading a company, eLiberare Design – a web design and development agency in Bucharest, Romania.

In 1997 when Ryan and his Dad set off on mission trip to Romania, they expected to serve and help, yet it was them who were most changed by the experience. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, it was estimated that 50,000 children were in State care in orphanages. Conditions in those orphanages were terrible, and by the time Ryan first visited Romania eight years later, thousands of children had run away and were living rough on the streets. While the kids found some measure of freedom, they also found new kinds of abuse – particularly the abuse of inhalants, many becoming addicted to sniffing glue. Ryan and his Dad volunteered with an organisation that were helping kids get off the street and into homes. Read more

An Unexpected Journey: Trafficking Prevention in Romania

For Ryan Crozier, four passions remain constant: God, his wife, Romania and trafficking prevention. As a natural-born entrepreneur there have been many other passions and interests that have come and gone, but those are the ones that define his life. At age 12, Ryan fell in love with Romania on a short-term mission trip with his Dad that would change their lives forever. At 18 as a college student, the seeds for anti-trafficking work were sown as he listened to a visiting speaker from India recount the plight of children vulnerable to traffickers. His blood boiled as he listened to the woman tell stories of rescuing children from abuse. She compared their work to standing at the edge of a cliff trying to catch kids as they came off and not being able to catch them all. All Ryan could think about was why there wasn’t someone further back stopping children going anywhere near the cliff edge. It is a question that has helped shape the course of his adult life and it is the reason that today he is leading a company, eLiberare Design – a web design and development agency in Bucharest, Romania.

Although Ryan thought he would be moving to Romania for good when he turned 18, he instead was given some wise advice to get a college education first. From there God led him on a journey of preparation that included meeting his wife Andrea, them together getting jobs and starting businesses which would give them essential experience – and finally establishing the structures and support base they would need behind them to launch an NGO. 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

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