During our October Webinars this week Mats Tunehag had the privilege of interviewing six BAM leaders in a series of three Fireside Chats, on the themes of each day: Start-up BAM, Fruitful BAM and Long BAM.
On day two, on the theme of Fruitful BAM, Mats interviewed Matthew Rohrs and Yvonne Otieno. Yvonne is an award winning entrepreneur and CEO of Miyonga Fresh Greens in Kenya. Matthew is the CEO of Sinapis Group, a Kingdom-minded business accelerator and entrepreneur academy operating in eight countries.
Here are some excerpts from their Fireside Chat Interview:
Mats: Matthew, Sinapis is 10 years old this year, congratulations. So tell us, how do you integrate faith into your programs?
Matthew: Sinapis is an entrepreneurship training and acceleration organization. We have a variety of programs to help entrepreneurs build capacity. Then over time we build vibrant long-term alumni communities where entrepreneurs can do business with one another, solve problems together, grow in their faith, and grow in their application of what it means to lead a Kingdom business.
The name Sinapis is the Latin word for mustard seed. So when we think about that gospel story of how the smallest seed in the garden grows to become one of the largest plants and the birds of the air come and perch in the branches, we think that is an interesting picture of the kind of impact that a gifted Kingdom-minded entrepreneur can have. They start out with a small seed of an idea, and that company then grows and grows. As that company begins to have more influence, this image of the birds perching in the branches is a beautiful picture of what happens with their employees. The impact that a company can have on the employees and then their dependents and others in the community…
On the question of how we integrate faith into what we do. At the programmatic level, we gently, respectfully, but very intentionally integrate God’s truth into our programs. We’re very open to share with people that there’s biblical content and we want to talk to you if you are not a follower of Christ, what would it mean to consider following Him? And if you are a follower of Christ, how do you step in, with passion, to this beautiful calling to the marketplace?
We think our alumni communities are actually the greatest opportunity for long-term spiritual investment, to walk with entrepreneurs over time, just like Yvonne. We help them and support them in the integration of their faith into the business, but also the continued growth of the company as their challenges become more complex.
Mats: Yvonne, you are one of those mustard seeds! How did going through the program change you and the impact on your various stakeholders?
Yvonne: We are an example of that kind of mustard seed growth! That’s because when we started we were a small family business and everything looked good on paper, but when we went down to the practicals the business was not really making sense. We learned that what we were doing was farming, and not farming as a business… Sinapis gave us the tools to start farming as a business, there is a skill to it, a process to it. In five years we went from a company that had 1.5 acres of land and no contract, to a company that now is exporting to Europe, that has created many more jobs, and more so working with 2400 farming families.
For me personally, I’ve moved from having an ownership mentality to a stewardship mentality; where we look at the human resources, the financial resources we have, as resources we can be stewards over. We also look at more than what we can get from the business, but what we can provide for the community in terms of employment opportunities, as well as creating opportunities for the women we work with. They actually invest a lot of their income back to their families so it’s given us a catalytic effect to impact the rest of the community .
So that’s how we have changed: Number one, from just farmers to business. Number two, from ownership to stewardship. Number three, greater impact, not what we can get from the community, but what can we give back…
For us our Christian faith is like the compass that directs what we do and how we do it.
Want to watch the whole of this interview on video?
Find out why Yvonne’s biggest regret is not dreaming bigger; and how God has led her to set her next five year goal as impacting 100,000 lives in Kenya.
Learn how Sinapis helps and equips entrepreneurs who are curious about how they can lead a faith-driven company.
Hear how Matthew sees the development of faith-driven entrepreneur ecosystems having the potential to have long-term impact in a city or a region. Plus, how the Christian entrepreneurship community in East Africa can be a beacon to other places around the world who want to see this type of growth.
Find out how a growing international community of accelerators is beginning to share best practices, to share resources, and publish research.
Sign up for the BAM Global Congress to get access to 15 webinars in the Pre-Congress Series, plus more. Congress information below.
Congratulations to Sinapis on reaching your 10 Year Anniversary!
Celebrating 10 years of growing Kingdom Entrepreneurs
The mission of Sinapis is to make disciples and alleviate poverty through the power of entrepreneurship. Sinapis has served over 5000 entrepreneurs in emerging market nations through workshops and training programs. They have over 1000 graduates of their training programs, who have created over 3300 jobs. They are overseeing programs in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda and have teamed up with like-minded partners who expand Sinapis’ programs into new markets in five other countries.
Sinapis is actively looking for partnerships with men and women that God has placed inside strategic markets for Christ, who see the power of entrepreneurship and want to equip indigenous entrepreneurs.
Find out more at Sinapis.org
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Photo courtesy of Sinapis Group.