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What If? Business Solutions to Environmental Problems

by Mark Polet

In the conversation around environmental impact for social enterprises, impact businesses, and indeed, BAM companies, there are two strands that integrate and weave around one another – like strands of DNA.

The first strand, addressed in my previous post, is that every impact business should be an environmental company, complying with the ethic and regulations around good environmental practice, acknowledging that we are stewards of God’s creation.

The other strand is the provision of environmental technology and solutions as a business opportunity in itself. Positive environmental impact can be achieved, not only through operational choices that care for creation and steward natural resources, but by the very product or service offered by the business.

Environmental Challenges are Business Opportunities

Peter Drucker said, “Every single social and global issue of our day is a business opportunity in disguise.” This is particularly true of the myriad environmental issues to be faced in our day.  Read more

Tikkun Olam: How Companies can Repair the World

by Mark Polet

My good friend, Eric, and I recently walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain together with other of our friends. We were walking through the rolling plains near León, where we could see the pastures and fields for kilometres in every direction, bracketed on three sides by the coastal mountains, the Pyrénées and the hills of Galicia. God’s creation lay before us like an open book. Perhaps inspired by such a scene, Eric told me about the Hebrew concept of Tikkun olam, ‘Repair the World’.

Repair the World

Romans 8 is pretty clear that the liberation and restoration of creation is integrated with our redemption. We in the impact business space have the profound privilege of repairing the world economically, spiritually, socially and environmentally, carrying out the commandment of ‘Working in the Garden,’ (Gen 2:15).

Let’s focus on how we as Impact Business leaders can ‘Repair the World’ from an environmental perspective. In 41 years of service, I have had the privilege helping companies from over 21 different industry types fulfil their environmental obligations, and in some cases, show environmental excellence.  Read more

Who Cares About Creation Care?

by Mats Tunehag

We know we are to be good stewards of creation. Those are God’s instructions to humans in Genesis 1 & 2 – especially Gen.1:28, often known as the ‘creation mandate’.

In the Business as Mission (BAM) movement we typically talk about the quadruple bottom line of social, spiritual, environmental and economic impact:

In and through business we want to:

  • serve people,
  • align with God’s purposes,
  • be good stewards of the planet,
  • and make a profit.

But how are we doing in the BAM community with stewardship of the planet? How are BAM companies leading the way in positive environmental change?

We know from our work in the BAM Global Network that creation care and environmental stewardship is a relatively weak area for BAM companies, and and that BAM practitioners feel under-resourced and overwhelmed by this challenge. Creation care is a topic in much need of further exploration in the BAM movement. This is why we are launching a blog series focused on BAM and Creation Care on The BAM Review in the coming month.  Read more

7 Fruitful Practices for BAM and Church Planting

BAM companies are usually very diverse, each business with its own unique features. However, through research into real experiences of BAM and Church Planting, some shared commonalities emerged in the following fruitful practices:

1. Contact

Make sure that the business provides regular contact with the focus people.

Intentionally create a business that provides regular contact with those with whom you are hoping to share the gospel – whether they are employees, customers, suppliers or others. A bakery business owner estimates that they have a chance to meet an average of 100 people a day. Christ can be made known to staff, suppliers, and customers through business activities. One employer who hires local women who come from difficult home lives seeks to help those women achieve a greater quality of life. Another BAM company provides business opportunities and income for local Christian leaders, encouraging them to stay and carry on the church planting work rather than moving away for employment to support their families. An agricultural business enables local Christians to do church planting work by training them in an egg production business. In this model they also help the trainees set up the businesses which provides contacts for them, as well as an income. This agriculture business also provides church planting training to the locals as part of their strategy.

Although the business is usually the context in which contacts are made and relationships started, several BAM practitioners (BAMers) mentioned that conversations about spiritual matters typically take place outside of the workplace. However, in other cases BAMers reported that these conversations start naturally through a shared work environment. 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

The Opportunities and Challenges for BAM In and From China

China’s economic growth of eight to ten percent annually for the last twenty years, creates an ideal commercial environment for business as mission within China. There are many opportunities for doing business and large amounts of foreign investment available. At the same time, as one BAM practitioner in China has noted, “China has one of the largest unreached populations in the world, business is a significant channel for Christians to effectively impact countless people and help set them free from sin.”

In the BAM Global Think Tank Report the opportunities and challenges of doing business as mission both in and from China are shared. These observations from surveys, case studies and a SWOT analysis confirm great potential for BAM in and from China. However, the Chinese mission movement is still growing into maturity and experience of business as mission is very new. The Chinese church both inside mainland China and overseas has a long way to go to fully understand and embrace the strategy of business as mission. They must learn from their own difficult experiences and also connect with the wider BAM movement in order to be more effective for the future. Read more

Transformational Business in Haiti [Video]

Daniel Jean-Louis speaks about the challenges and opportunities of Business as Mission in Haiti in an interview with Roxanne Addink de Graaf.

For more on BAM in Haiti, read the BAM Global Think Tank Report Business as Mission in Haiti.

This video was recorded at the BAM Global Congress in April 2013. Read more

Business as Mission: A Perspective from Africa [Video]

Dennis Tongoi speaks about the opportunities for Business as Mission in the continent of Africa.

This video was recorded at the BAM Global Congress in April 2013. 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

Laboring in the Dark: BAM in Iran

Iran is an extremely hostile environment for any endeavor that is not instigated and controlled by the Islamic Government and its sympathizers. This creates significant challenges for the Christian Community to create and operate businesses that promote Biblical values. In addition, due to the xenophobia of the Islamic Government and the imposition of International Sanctions, it is very difficult for the larger world wide Christian Community to provide any assistance or support.

Internally, the Christian Community is viewed as a threat to the Islamic Government and to openly identify oneself as part of that community is to invite persecution and potential death. Thus any identification of individuals or businesses as being an expression of the Christian Community is extremely dangerous and invites opposition.

In the area of economic activity, any enterprise of significant value is controlled and managed by the Islamic Government and is subject to its Islamic rules and regulations. Thus, to create and operate a significant business enterprise that is not owned and operated by a supporter of the Islamic Government and its values is nearly impossible.

However, despite the challenges of doing business in such a hostile environment, there are business examples to learn from. The BAM in Iran report shares a summary of findings from a survey of 25 businesses in Iran. Many of these business are smaller in scale and tend to stay under the radar. Read more

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