How They Were Funded: Three BAM Stories

Dreaming is the easy part of starting a business. Putting the pen to paper, turning ideas into action, and getting others on board to believe in the vision with you is where the real work begins. Getting financing for the business is at the crux of turning ideas into reality, where the vision grows legs and gains momentum. This is true for a startup or for recapitalising a growth-stage business.

Every business is financed differently and it can often look a bit messy. Here are three sketches that represent a small cross section of how BAM practitioners have financed their business, both in the startup phase and long term.

Garment Manufacturing – Donor-based Startup, Crowdfunded Growth

Peter and Marit and their business partners began with a vision to create jobs for an exploited and underserved segment of the population in Nepal. In 2013 their business was born, an ethical garment manufacturing business in Kathmandu. The Nepali Government requires foreign-owned businesses to invest a minimum of $50,000 per partner in business startups. To invest their $50,000, Peter and Marit opted to involve their wider stakeholder community and raised donations for the startup capital. Eighteen months into operation, the business is self-sustainable and able to keep moving towards their growth goals. The donor startup capital approach has given them freedom to take some calculated risks, which has been key in determining the direction they have taken as a company. Read more

Who is a BAMer? Five Sketches from Around the World

Who is a BAMer? What does ‘business as mission’ really mean? Not very much without a human face and real stories of the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to build a business. At the heart of every Kingdom-focused business there is that small team of dedicated human beings, carrying their personal passions and experiences, determined to start businesses that will bring sustainable change. Here are five that are making a difference in very different circumstances around the world.

Scroll through the slides and read more about each story below.

 

  • Famous Ray’s

    With a passion for the Burmese, biking and burgers, Ray and Candace Ward are creating jobs in the border town of Mae Sot in Thailand.

  • Forever Crystals

    When she took over a family jewelry company Merari discovered that business could have a greater impact on the community and globally.

  • TL Made

    Artistic skills and experience in eCommerce enabled the TL Made team to come together to meet some of the needs in the Tenderloin, San Francisco.

  • Quality Coffee

    Ben’s passion for coffee grew into a coffee shop and restaurant chain in the heart of Asia, that in turn grew into a barista training and coffee importing business.

  • English School

    The need to start sustainable business activities alongside high demand for English in the local community led Tati and her team to start an English School in the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Read more

Making Ice Cream, Making Disciples in Central Asia

James admits, almost as a confession, that he does enjoy a bit of number crunching… “I love taking an idea and turning it into reality,” he says, “I really enjoy the whole process of researching a business idea, doing feasibility studies, analysing the data, crunching the numbers and really trying to figure out whether a business will work!”.

James is the co-owner of an Ice Cream Manufacturing Business in a large city in “Byghistan”, a country in Central Asia. Although James grew up in a family that owned businesses, he didn’t see himself as a business person until recently and has discovered this innate passion for business as he has gone along.

Beginnings

James and his family moved to Byghistan in 2006, with a desire to work for the Gospel amongst an ethnic group indigenous to that particular city. Initially they focused on language learning and becoming established in the country. As their 2 years as language students came to an end, James and his wife began looking for opportunities that would enable them to stay longer. At first they saw running a business primarily as a way to get a longer-term visa and stay in the country, however right from the start they knew the business must be credible. 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

Total Commitment: Import-Export in China

For 9 years Gabriella and her husband Marco have been successfully exporting goods from China to their native Brazil.  Starting from nothing, they have built up a small company ‘Total Import & Export’, based in China. The company handles research, negotiations, quality control, logistics and shipping arrangements on behalf of their Brazilian clients. Most of their income is generated in commission, as a percentage of the value of the goods exported. Other income sources include the company’s hospitality services and product research services.

To date Gabriella and Marco have exported over 200 containers and have been profitable since the beginning. They export a diverse range of goods, everything from industrial sewing machines to floor tiles, from power tools to fashion accessories. Their company has grown through referrals from existing clients, with recent approaches from new clients in Singapore and the USA, as well as ever growing interest in South America.

However, in the past Gabriella and Marco have been somewhat reluctant to embrace this growth, in fact they have been reluctant business people. Gabriella admits, “I have actually asked some clients to keep quiet about us, I have told them I don’t want the business to grow too much!” However, recently everything has changed and as Gabriella puts it, “I have had my thinking turned completely upside-down.” 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

SEA English Academy: A Global Franchise Business

Kim is the founder and co-owner of SEA English Academy, a business that has grown over the last 5 years into a string of international franchises. Kim is driven by a passion for high quality education and equally by the desire to make a positive impact through her business. She is a high profile business woman who seeks to leverage her experience and success to make a difference in her community and in the nations.

A long road to business

Over 30 years ago Kim had a dream which started her on a journey. Her dream was of a woman in Muslim dress, veiled from head to toe, standing in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula. She knew it was herself she saw in her dream, living amongst and serving a Muslim community. The dream was so vivid that she knew it was an answer to prayers she’d been praying, asking God to show her what she should focus on, what she should be praying for. It was a seed sown that would eventually take her to places and among people she had never imagined. Through these experiences a love and respect for Muslim peoples would grow in her heart. That passion is still at the core of everything she does. Read more

Starting out in Business: Cross-Cultural Lessons from Thailand

by Raimund Homberg

After a happy and enthusiastic start to my business in Thailand, I found myself on an emotional and psychological rollercoaster that turned me after only a few years into another frustrated, disillusioned and burned out “Farang” (foreigner). What happened? I experienced the reality of day-to-day life in Thailand. I perceived that promises were not kept, legal rights not respected and I felt that no-one is trustworthy. All “they” want is my money, I thought. Sound familiar? Yes, I have been there. What to do? I called on the LORD Jesus, and He opened my eyes. Here is my story.

Starting out

I came to Thailand first of all in 1974 and stayed three years. After that I went back to Europe, but returned to Thailand in 1988. Around 1992 I settled in Tak Province in Northern Thailand and developed my business. I ran a small deodorant stone manufacturing and export business with my Thai wife. These were the days before the internet and the era of mobile phones. Many European customers did not know how to source products in Asia and they were more than happy to find a trustworthy partner in Thailand. It was still easy to export from Thailand and I had no problem with sales. But after I opened the business, the experience of dealing with local people, especially government officials, was burning me out. Read more