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Team BAM: Legacy & Looking Ahead

By Joyce Ahn

The following is a summary of a lecture given by Mats Tunehag at the BAM Conference 2017 in Dallas, TX. Mats is a widely-known scholar focused on BAM and developing research and materials for BAMers globally.

BAM is not a new concept. In fact, we stand upon a rich legacy of professionals who sought to glorify God through their business.  We see entrepreneurs in the scripture and throughout history. We stand at a crossroads as we look at how the BAM movement has progressed, and where things are headed.

Here are some trends I have observed in recent years:

Faith and business are more integrated than ever before. We see more and more believers who understand the importance of integrating our faith into how we run our businesses all throughout the week. It’s becoming more natural for people to say “Of course God has called me to business” and seek ways to invite him into their values and company culture. It’s exciting to see the growing numbers of BAM companies in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and an increasing number of BAM materials in dozens of languages. Read more

Story: Giving a Choice to Trafficked Women through Business

By Guest Author

I am an accidental entrepreneur. I did not originally go about seeking to use business as the tool for transformation. My only goal or tentative hope was to find a way for women in India’s growing sex trade to a way to find freedom in whatever way possible.

I first entered one of the largest red light districts in India in 2002 and after making first contact with the girls and women in the red light area, I spent a lot of time listening, waiting, and waiting and WAITING. For far too long, I felt powerless to make any actual impact.

I began to care deeply about the women I met in red light area.

I met Rupa and Jiya and listened to their stories, saw through their hard eyes to broken hearts and broken dreams, saw that they were moms and sisters and daughters. I saw and I heard that there were no options for them once they had found themselves in the sex trade through trafficking and trickery. They had aged out of rescue and now they were culturally marginalized as spoiled women, social outcasts and often the primary breadwinners for multigenerational families.

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Business Solutions to Human Trafficking

By Mats Tunehag, with input from Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag

In the 1700’s the slave trade was widely accepted and legal. It was, in fact, a backbone of the economy of the British Empire. It was a big, organized and transnational business.

William Wilberforce and the Clapham group decided to fight this evil trade. They chose to attack the systemic issue – the legality of slave trade and slavery. To that end they organized a decades long campaign focusing on justice, aiming at a root cause. They worked politically to change unjust and ungodly laws that permitted the dehumanizing trade.

They could have chosen an easier route of awareness campaigns and a boycott of sugar from plantations in Jamaica, but they knew such initiatives in themselves would not free the slaves or bring about lasting change. The feel good factor may have been higher, but the long-term outcomes would have been meager.

Charity and justice

Today the slave trade and slavery are illegal, but not dead. Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and it is a lucrative and evil business. Just like Wilberforce and his colleagues, we need to ask what the systemic issue is today – and we need to go beyond charitable actions to fight for justice.

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Freedom Through Business: Hold Fast to Your Dream

by Mats Tunehag

My wife and I spent a couple of weeks in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos in August. The focus was freedom! Freedom from slavery and injustice, and freedom to live in truth, enjoy beauty, create wealth and share goodness. This is the story of freedom business.

We know that jobs with dignity are a primary need for prevention of human trafficking. It is also a must to bring restoration of survivors of modern day slavery.

That’s why freedom businesses exist, and the Freedom Business Alliance exists to help freedom businesses succeed.

To that end the Freedom Business Forum was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in late August. It was the first global gathering of its kind, and about 140 people from all continents participated. It was a great mix of people and talents, all committed to true freedom through business, with all their hearts and minds.

Freedom business is hard, but necessary. And some are called to it, and as Pope Francis says: “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world.  It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.” 

The concluding keynote address at the Forum was held by one of my heroines, Annie Dieselberg. She runs a freedom business in Bangkok. Her calling is clear and her commitment exemplary. Her challenging freedom business journey is reflected in a most inspirational speech. Here’s Annie:

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A Powerful Role: How Business Fights Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the biggest travesties in our world today. Countless nonprofits, law enforcement units, and governments are taking a stand to address this global humanitarian crisis. Yet, where does business fit into the bigger picture? If you are a business person with a heart to do something to fight human trafficking, you can actually play a much bigger role than you may think.

Not For Sale: “Business Can Change the Tide Against Modern Slavery”

You might have heard of Not For Sale as a frontrunner nonprofit in the fight against human trafficking. What you probably don’t know is that in recent years, cofounder and president, David Batstone, has shifted their focus primarily towards business initiatives and job creation, rather than on humanitarian aid and rehabilitation. Not for Sale sees their contribution in the fight against human trafficking as preventing exploitation before it even happens, and believes business is a powerful tool in that process. Not for Sale partners with businesses to bring trafficking prevention to a whole new level. Their conviction:

“The responsibility to end modern slavery requires us to use our heads, as well as our hearts. We must use our courage to ask a new question, ‘How do you stop this before it happens in the first place?’…We believe business can change the tide against modern slavery because we’ve proven it with our own sweat, tears, and capital. We test our ideas, and help others do what works.”  Read more

How Enterprise Can Fight Slavery: The Freedom Business Alliance

We talked to Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag about the Freedom Business Alliance initiative and the upcoming Freedom Business Forum.

We are hearing the term Freedom Business being used more and more, what is a ‘Freedom Business’? 

It’s a business that exists to fight human trafficking. There are several types of business that fit into this category:  businesses that create jobs for survivors of exploitation would be the most familiar, but we would also include businesses that hire vulnerable people in order to prevent exploitation, as well as the aggregators who take products from these first two to new markets. A fourth category would be businesses that provide services specifically to and for other freedom businesses (ie., communications, logistics support, etc). Finally, there are businesses who have devoted the profit from their companies to fight trafficking. These are also part of the freedom business ecosystem.

We sometimes call freedom business the ‘backwards business’. In a normal business paradigm, an entrepreneur sees an opportunity to create a product or service that meets a need in the market. By gathering a qualified staff, he sets himself up to make a profit. 

In contrast, a freedom business starts with the group of people it intends to employ. In businesses working to prevent human trafficking and exploitation, those people have been made vulnerable by poverty, lack of education, or other challenging variables. For those in business for restoration, the difficulties are greater.  Their employees have already been victimised, and the resulting trauma creates levels of complexity in life and employment. Read more

Slavery in Global Supply Chains: The Role of BAM in Finding Solutions

by James McHaffie

Modern slavery has been a major and growing issue for some time. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 21m people globally are victims of forced labour, generating $150 billion in illegal profits annually. Of this, there are 10.7 million victims of labour exploitation in private enterprise, reaching US$43.4 billion in illegal profits per year.

Modern slavery is a broad term that encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. These are all issues which need no introduction to most BAM companies – many of which are businesses employing workers who have been victims of, or who are at risk of modern slavery.

Growing public awareness of the issues and new legislation in a number of countries has pushed this on the agenda for companies. For example, in 2015 the UK Modern Slavery Act became a legal requirement for at least 17,000 companies in the UK and, consequently, around the world. Companies with an annual turnover of £36m or more, with operations in the UK, have to produce an annual statement outlining steps they have taken to address the risk of modern slavery in their supply chains and within their own business. 

Recent research from Hult International Business School and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) exploring emerging corporate approaches to addressing modern slavery in supply chains, found that 71 percent of companies believe there is a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some point within their supply chains – particularly in high-risk countries or sectors and at the lower stages of the chain.

The complexity and demands of supply chains, together with the often hidden nature of modern slavery, makes it difficult to identify and address. Understanding how to respond to modern slavery has become a pressing issue for senior business leaders and supply chain managers across the globe. So what is the role of BAM companies in supporting a response? Read more

Business as Mission from Australia and New Zealand

It is usually a mistake to lump Australia and New Zealand together! Each is quite different in characteristic from the other and each enjoys a bit of friendly joking about the other, as well as a fierce sporting rivalry. However, one thing they do have in common is that both Australians and New Zealanders have been among BAM pioneers, with a steady interest in business as mission growing in each country. We ask two BAM friends from each nation to share about their involvement:

 

Our journey in BAM started when I was fired from the position I was working in with a mission agency in Nepal. In retrospect, it was the best thing that could have happened. That was 2000. We started a software company, and slowly grew until we now have a staff of 12 in Nepal, 5 in New Zealand and 3 in other countries. We make software for managing pharmaceutical supply chains, which is now used in about 30 countries.

Right from the start we had a strong sense of rightness about starting down this path, and when it’s been tough we’ve hung on to that. It’s a good thing to have. Here are a few things we’ve reflected on along the way:

Things are fragile, especially at the start. A change of mind here, the stroke of a pen there, and we would have a very different story to tell. It’s good to remember this when we start to feel that we’re pretty good at what we do, and good to remember when others fail – it’s not always in our hands. Read more

In Business for Freedom: The Red Light District of Kolkata

The company ‘FBA’ is located in the largest, and most infamous sex district in Kolkata, India. Within a few square miles more than 10,000 women stand in line selling their bodies to thousands of men who visit daily. Many are trafficked from Bangladesh, Nepal and rural India. For others poverty has left them without options. The cries of hungry children drive them to sell their bodies. FBA opened its doors in 2001 starting with twenty women who were desperate for an opportunity to be free. It was hard work teaching uneducated and unskilled women to sew jute bags at a quality acceptable for the export market. Some could barely use a pair of scissors and in those early days the average daily output per person was less than two bags. It was particularly frustrating when bags were sewn upside down and inside out and nobody noticed. Slowly these problems were overcome with much training and patience. Today, while many of the women are still not the fastest sewers, the business produces around 1000 bags a day made from jute and cotton material.

FBA entered a new market in 2009 by offering fair trade organic cotton tees (t-shirts). Girls showing ability in bag sewing were given the opportunity to train and learn new skills sewing t-shirts. Although smaller than the bags unit, FBA Tees is capable of producing 400 tees per day.

In the first few years all screen-printing was outsourced locally, however print quality and timely supply was out of our control. To overcome these problems and take advantage of the opportunity to create more jobs for freedom, FBA now has its own screen-printing unit supplying two customers, FBA Bags and FBA Tees.

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How The Foundry is Helping Freedom Businesses Find a Market

The answer is always the same… “We need marketplace access.” We work with Freedom Businesses – companies that have a focus on combatting slavery and human-trafficking. This answer is often given in response to the question, “What do you need most as a Freedom Business?” Marketplace access is a consistent, ongoing need for all companies, Freedom Businesses and BAM companies are no different.

What this question does not take into account is whether that market access is for retail, wholesale, white labelling, production only, or any other creative way to enter the general market. What we have found is that marketplace access is really a coded way to say, “We need money and therefore we need sales.”

The reality is that Freedom Businesses do need a market: real markets that are based on quality products and not just the marketing of the brand’s story or relying on ‘sympathy purchases’. While it is important to relay that story with dignity and deep purpose, the story should not take the lead over the product. The product needs to be able to stand on its own merit, with a real market, if the business is to truly succeed.  Read more

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