Starting out on Unique BAM Paths: Two More Stories

This month we are starting a blog series that will explore different pathways into BAM and different ways to be involved. We begin this month with the topic of getting involved in doing BAM yourself. In the coming months, we’ll explore more ideas for enabling, resourcing and connecting others to do BAM.

In Part 1 of this two part series, we shared two unique stories of how God led people to get involved with BAM.

Here are two more stories highlighting different ways to get involved. In the first, Danilo shares how he is has integrated BAM principles into an existing business. In the second, JC started working remotely for a BAM company in his first job out of college. We hope these will encourage you that there are many different paths into business as mission!

Danilo, CEO of Snowman Labs

Danilo, age 34, holds a degree in Computer Networks, and was born and raised in the south of Brazil in a Christian family. His father is a pastor, which deeply influenced Danilo’s upbringing. Danilo loves Jesus, his family, people, technology, and innovation. Those passions opened up the doors for starting Snowman Labs, a digital solution company helping clients navigate their digital transformation challenges. Danilo is currently the CEO of Snowman Labs, where their purpose is to let people experience the kindness and love of God through technology, innovation, and UX/UI design. 

What motivated you to get involved with business as mission?

Actually, it was God who led me to BAM after years of wrestling with my views on the sacred-secular divide in business. I used to see business and serving the Lord as polar opposites. But, through God’s grace, I now see BAM as a natural integration of my faith and professional life.

My journey began in early February 2018 during a service in Brazil, where I heard João Mordomo speak on 1 Peter 2:9. His message, that not all of us would have a call to full-time ministry, but we are all full-time ministers, profoundly changed my outlook. I sought João out for lunch to learn more about BAM, and he has since become a pivotal mentor in guiding me toward integrating these principles into Snowman Labs.

What is your role in Snowman Labs?

As CEO, my role is to steer Snowman Labs toward the vision God has imparted to us. This aligns perfectly with my strengths, especially since it involves overseeing sales, a domain I’m passionate about. My love for our vision and responsibility in sales creates a synergy that drives me daily.

You transitioned Snowman Labs to incorporate BAM principals. Did you run into any challenges or discouragements along the way?

Honestly, starting in BAM felt like a path God had prepared for me, so the initial steps were surprisingly smooth. The real challenges came later as I worked to weave BAM concepts into our company’s culture. Read more

Joining BAM: Stories of People Getting Involved in Business as Mission

This month we are starting a blog series that will explore different pathways into BAM and different ways to be involved. We begin this month with the topic of getting involved in doing BAM yourself. In the coming months, we’ll explore more ideas for enabling, resourcing and connecting others to do BAM.

Over the past 15 years, there’s been an unprecedented rise in the global connectedness of people involved in business as mission (BAM). As the movement continues to grow, many more seek opportunities to join the movement — specifically by joining or starting BAM companies and resourcing organizations.

As engagement in business as mission grows, so do the range of opportunities. There are almost as many ways to get involved with BAM as there are people on their BAM journey and we’ve  been eager to hear more about the variety of ways to get involved.

We reached a handful of individuals who each had unique stories of how God led them to get involved with BAM. Here are two of their stories:

G, Team Member of a Business Incubator for Refugees in the UK

G works with a team based in the UK that helps local refugees relaunch the businesses they operated back in their home countries. She and the team are driven by BAM principals and hope to see real financial impact with refugees lifted out of poverty and released into economic prosperity for their families. They aim to impact social bottom lines by encouraging and deepening ties between locals and refugees, and to have spiritual impact by sharing Christ with groups who, before arriving in the UK, had limited exposure to the gospel.  

What motivated you to join the organization you’re working with?

I learned about social enterprise during my studies of global business issues at university. After my first exposure to these concepts, I wanted to learn more about businesses doing BAM in a practical and meaningful way.

I am from a very rural area and there didn’t seem to be many opportunities for the practical, hands-on experience I was looking for. During one of my summer breaks, a man from the UK (now G’s team leader) started to share about his community’s desire to serve refugees and start a social enterprise in his area. If anyone was interested in joining them for an internship, he said to connect with him after service.

What did you do to prepare for involvement in BAM? Can you tell us about the networking, research, learning, and formal or informal preparations you did?

As I said, I studied social enterprise in college. But to me, it felt more like most of my learning was “caught” not taught.

My mom is an entrepreneur herself, and I would say most of what I’ve learned has been from watching and helping my mom run her Mary Kay business. She’s always been intentional about networking and connecting to enrich the lives of women, not just to make a sale. She always made sure genuine care for people was never lost. During college, I followed in her footsteps and started my own Mary Kay side business. This taught me a lot about bouncing back from rejection, and how to not take it personally, which is hard!

Running my own business taught me how to talk to people even when I’m intimidated, giving me the confidence to boldly ask questions and follow up with people I’m interested in learning from. This gave me buoyancy to keep following up on this opportunity with the team in the UK, even after it had been repeatedly canceled and postponed due to Covid. Read more

How Does Spiritual Impact Intersect with Your Product or Service?

It goes without saying that the product or service you develop will be tightly interwoven with your missional goals: social, economic, environmental and spiritual. We can learn a lot from mainstream business about how to most effectively develop products and market share that will turn a profit and create economic impact. We can also learn much from the social enterprise movement and other socially responsibility companies about how products and services integrate with both social and environmental impact. But business as mission integrates a fourth bottom line, that of spiritual impact. In what ways does the product you develop or the service you offer intersect with the spiritual impact of a BAM company?

We asked four BAM practitioners in very different sectors in different parts of Asia to share why they chose their business and how it connects with the spiritual goals for their business:

Extreme Sports Equipment – Wholesale and Distribution

For us it’s impossible to separate our products from the impact we want to have as a business. First of all we want to make sure that all our products have integrity. We use the finest quality materials to make our equipment. Factories here tend to use a lower grade of materials when mass producing this type of equipment. We asked our manufactures to use the highest grade of materials possible and have a good standard of quality control in place. We pay more, but we feel that supplying top-quality equipment is integral to our credibility and our message. We also include graphics and images on our equipment that have a gospel meaning behind them. Every graphic has a story and we include booklets with our products that explain what the images mean and essentially tell the gospel. We are actively engaged with the extreme sports community here, we sponsor competitors and hang out with the people who are into our sport. We’ve started a kind of church among this group, we go where they all gather together and we do a bible study there, we regularly meet with a core group of 20 to 30. We send representatives from our company out as they do product distribution to other cities and they are able to build relationships with community leaders and begin to disciple them. – Jon and Dave

Language Academy – Education

I have a passion for training and my wife loves to write curriculum, so taking over a Language Center was a natural fit for us. It was a struggling company at the time, but we could see how it had potential to make an impact in the Muslim nation we are in. People from all over the Middle East come here to learn English and other languages – we offer five languages all together. Some of our staff work exclusively within our Academy, others teach part-time and very intentionally engage in evangelism and church planting work, much of that out of the relationships they build through the center. Education and training work is a great environment in which to be a witness for Jesus and share biblical ideas since we get to spend intensive time with our students. We also have a children’s language program that mostly focuses on English teaching, since the demand for that is so high. We go into Arab Schools and teach children from 4 to 18 years, mainly immigrants from Middle Eastern countries, many coming from difficult situations. The English language represents hope for the future for them and we get to build really good relationships with whole families. We talk in our classes about religious beliefs, for instance at Christmas we were able to share all about who Christ is. We also get to go and drink coffee with the parents and make friends outside the classroom. – Steve  Read more

5 Principles Learned from a BAM Journey: Matt’s Story

by Larry Sharp

This past month we have been featuring stories from Larry Sharp. Larry’s new book ‘Mission Disrupted: From Professional Missionaries to Missionary Professionals’ tells 27 stories and is out now!

Matt lives in a crowded city in Asia’s largest country where his business demands a driver to take him from place to place. Naturally he has become close friends with the driver, Wang Wei who had plenty of opportunities to observe Matt’s family and he saw something quite different from what he was used to, and he wanted that for his family too. He kept watching and then began talking to Matt about what he was seeing. There were plenty of conversations before Wang Wei became a true follower of Jesus. Matt now is privileged to disciple him in his new life in Christ.

I had visited a mid-sized business in this same country some years ago and observed how God had used Matt to help a business flourish with clear Quadruple Bottom line results.  He returned to his home country to complete an MBA and renew his interest and experience in property sales and management. I knew that he would be a success in this new endeavor so my conversation with him turned to questions related to his journey, his driving passion, and how he got to where he was in his faith-work understanding and in the integration of his mission in life with workplace success.

During that conversation he shared five noteworthy principles:

1. Spend Time with God-Fearing People in Church, Family and Community

Matt is a multi-talented guy with various skills. He had learned another language and he had lived in another culture. And he wanted to make a difference for God in the world, so he asked people to pray with and for him. As he talked with family and friends, an opportunity opened to work overseas, and they advised him to move in that direction. And he did. Read more

Nguvu Dairy: A Trauma Informed Workplace in Northern Uganda

by Larry Sharp

This month we are featuring stories from Larry Sharp. Larry’s new book ‘Mission Disrupted: From Professional Missionaries to Missionary Professionals’ tells 27 stories and is out now!

Abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Gloria was forced to be a child soldier in northern Uganda. Although girls sometimes carried rifles on the front lines, they usually did the cooking for the boys involved in guerilla warfare and served the sexual wishes of the commanders. After eight years, she managed to escape the LRA and returned home. Life, however, continued to be hard. No one trusted her, not even her sisters. They thought she was a killer and to be avoided at all costs. She couldn’t find work and barely survived on the few things she could grow on a tiny subsistence plot of land. But then her life changed:

The moment I stepped inside the gates of Nguvu Dairy I felt a sense of peace. James was so kind and friendly, and he taught all of us victims how to make yogurt. He was patient and encouraging. Nguvu Dairy has changed my life. I have a job and can rent a little house in town and afford school fees for my son.

As a highly traumatized young woman, Gloria was forced to labor as an exploited, brain-washed, and hopeless child. But by God’s grace she was one of the few who found  hope of the more than one hundred thousand children worldwide forced to serve in state and non-state military organizations.

James Dirksen is a seasoned entrepreneur and business owner and while in northern Uganda asked himself the foundational question, “what happens to survivors when they finish a program of the NGO, mission or care organizations?” After plenty of research and planning he began to focus on starting real businesses to take the next critical step to bring healing to survivors and provide full-time employment.

Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar business, trading in people. Creating safe jobs is critical to ending the cycle of economic vulnerability at the root of this global crisis. Without safe employment 80% of those rescued return to trafficking or voluntary enslavement. Read more

Coffee at the Capital Roasting Company

by Larry Sharp

This month we are featuring stories from Larry Sharp. Larry’s new book ‘Mission Disrupted: From Professional Missionaries to Missionary Professionals’ tells 27 stories and is out now!

Some years ago, I found coffee in a tea-loving country in central Asia, which I will call Tealand, at the Capital Roasting Company (CRC).

Tea is a wonderful drink with a complex history of more than two thousand years dating back to China. But it is not coffee. As legend has it, coffee originated on the Ethiopian plateau and by the 16th century moved east to the Arabian peninsula where it was cultivated.

Coffee made its’ way to Europe where Pope Clement VIII finally gave his approval, and it no longer was considered the “invention of Satan”. By the mid-17th century, there were 300 coffee houses in London. Apparently, tea still dominated the American colonies until the Boston Tea Party, after which Thomas Jefferson called coffee, the “favorite drink of the civilized world.” Who wouldn’t want to switch from tea to coffee?

After the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991, the residents of the new Central Asia republics developed an intense interest in the rest of the world, and this included Tealand. However, Russia did not leave Tealand in the best of shape. When I arrived for my visit I discovered how much the citizens wanted to be like the western world and some of the young people even wanted to leave Tealand, hoping to migrate to the west. Women began to shed their head covering and other social customs began to change. The intense interest in the west included viewing television programs from the USA and western Europe, learning the English language and social customs formerly unknown.

The Capital Roasting Company began as the vision of a small group, all of whom had arrived in Tealand in 2008. As the startup team began to learn the language and make friends, they saw an opportunity in this milieu of social change. The Capital Roasting Company (CRC) began to build their business model around the current needs. Read more

Outland Denim: To God Be the Glory

by Larry Sharp

This month we are featuring stories from Larry Sharp. Larry’s new book ‘Mission Disrupted: From Professional Missionaries to Missionary Professionals’ tells 27 stories and is out now!

On October 18, 2018 Prince Harry and Meghan landed in the outback of Australia as the first stop in their royal visit to that country.  As is always the case, the media surveyed every aspect of the royal’s appearance including the black stove-pipe Hariett jeans the Duchess was wearing. Why those jeans?  Where were they fabricated? How much did they cost?  What was the brand?

As it turned out Meghan was making a statement in support of those fighting human slavery and trafficking.  Her jeans were manufactured by Outland Denim, a BAM company owned by a kingdom minded Australian couple with a factory in Kampong Cham, Cambodia.

As a new board member of the Freedom Business Alliance in 2017 I realized I had much to learn so planned a trip to visit seven freedom businesses in Cambodia.  Outland Denim was one of those businesses.  Later it was a delight to interview one of the founders in preparation for telling the story in the book Missions Disrupted:  From Professional Missionaries to Missional Professionals.

Human trafficking is a lucrative multi-national 150 billion dollar per year illegal industry of exploitation and enslavement; and two-thirds of that total comes from sexual slavery.  Estimates indicate that up to 40 million people are trapped in modern slavery and most are women and children – a crisis of epic proportions.  It is something demanding the involvement of anyone sensitive to the plight of hurting people.

I learned that there are three phases in the efforts to bring change to the lives of those who have been traumatized and now desire to be transformed into successful survivors:  1) rescue, 2) restore; 3) reintegrate.  Most activity for those giving aid is concentrated in the first two phases of rescuing victims and working to restore them.  It is the third phase which is largely ignored – reintegration into the workplace so they can be gainfully employed.  This is where the need is for freedom businesses which provide employment with managers that understand their journey and have a plan for helping them learn a skill and live a post-trauma life. Read more

Poultry, Profit and Proclamation: A BAM Story

by Larry Sharp

This month we are featuring stories from Larry Sharp. Larry’s new book ‘Mission Disrupted: From Professional Missionaries to Missionary Professionals’ tells 27 stories and is out now!

It started 45 years ago when Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham, living near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe gave 50 newly hatched chicks to their seven-year-old son, Peter.  “See what you can do with them,” they said.  By the time he was 17 years, he was raising 10,000 chicks a week and was on his way to a successful and colorful missional business career.

Today Peter is a visionary, entrepreneurial, God-fearing, faith driven guy and the CEO of Hamara and Heartland Foods in Zimbabwe.  The heart of the business is the poultry industry – including hatching, broilers, and layers.  He explains it in its simplest iteration:  30 birds will lay 22 eggs daily; the farmer can save five for his family and sell seventeen.  This provides more income than half of the poor families in the country.

Hamara’s influence extends to one-stop distributors in 13 cities making them one of the largest chicken distributors in the country.  One of the genius components is their outgrower program with over 300 small scale farmers since 2002 growing an average of 20,000 chickens a week each.  They are propelled by an incentive “model farmers” program by which farmers can move from the Bronze stage to Silver, Gold and then to Platinum, and be part of something bigger than themselves.

In a country where one third are extremely poor, there is opportunity (market pull) to break the yoke of poverty.  Peter cites David Livingstone as an example, who was the first European to reach the area in the 19th century and was motivated to break the yoke of slavery.  But while working hard to reduce poverty, Peter never misses an opportunity to link his work and company to the grand eternal purposes of God – that more and more people come to worship and follow Him.  And he does so by daily reminding himself and his staff of the amazing life and grace of Jesus.  Says Peter, “Jesus chooses ordinary people like us and wants us to live in relationship with him as he gives the favor to share his amazing life with others.” Read more

God’s Steward Investor: Investing for Eternal Impact

by Don Simmons

To the BAM Global audience: thank you for the chance to engage with you this month through a series of blogs dedicated to themes of investing God’s resources for eternal impact.

I have been a financial planner for over three decades and a follower of Jesus during my entire career.  In recent years, God has opened my eyes to truths I cannot escape regarding the role we all have to play in connecting our financial resources with God’s eternal purposes. In short, I have come to believe that we are all God’s resource managers, his fiduciaries, and as such we are to become his steward investors. Simply put, we must move beyond financial competence to proactively investing God’s resources to achieve His eternal purposes such as the Great Commission. We must not simply invest for our own temporal financial goals.

What is a Steward Investor?

A steward investor is a person who acknowledges that God owns it all and seeks to invest in a way that accords with God’s purposes.

By definition, a steward is a manager of someone else’s resources. It derives from the Greek word oikonomos, who was the manager in an ancient Greek household. A steward knew he didn’t own anything but had an obligation to manage the resources and affairs of the owner as the owner himself would.

All of our resources—financial and otherwise—have been given to us by God, the true owner. God tasks us as his stewards with managing those resources according to His values, goals, and precepts communicated in scripture.

While many of us value “good stewardship” of our finances, making sure we live on a budget, save, and give generously, most of us have not considered how to steward our investments. Read more

2 Company Leaders Look Back: Financial Planning Highs and Lows

Read this classic blog from our Archives, first published on The BAM Review blog in November 2016 and republished for the Summer Series 2022.

 

When we have a major decision to make, we often ask those around us for input. Sometimes we follow that advice and other times we don’t. Occasionally we might look back and wish we had followed the advice we received from others. Hindsight is a beautiful thing!

Drawing on the wisdom of others can be helpful and the benefit of hindsight is illuminating. With those two things in mind, we asked a couple of well established BAM leaders for their advice about financial planning. We asked them to share what has been fruitful and has enabled them to grow companies that are doing well. We also asked them to share the lessons they’ve learned the hard way and what they would do differently in hindsight.

Hospitality Company 

Company A is a Hospitality company with 125 employees, it has two owners and was established 12 years ago.

What financial planning have you done to grow your company to the place it is today?

The growth of our company over the past five years has been quite substantial. We have seen our revenue increase 475%, and our earnings grow 540%. Though our financial planning was not the driver of that growth, it was certainly the foundation. Without the steps we have learned and taken over the years, we would not have been able to facilitate the amazing growth we have seen.  Read more