It Takes an Ecosystem to ‘Raise a BAM Company’!

There are many different ways to get involved in business as mission and the BAM movement needs many types of people, skills, experiences and passions. If you are interested in engaging with BAM, there is a path and role for you! Last month, we started with the topic of getting involved in doing BAM yourself. This month, we are exploring ways to support and resource others to do BAM – in other words, how to help build the business as mission ecosystem!

Business as mission companies and practitioners need many different kinds of support and resources to thrive. To discover the many different and necessary roles in the BAM ecosystem, read Part 1 of this series.

To wrap the series up, we thought it would be fun and interesting to look at this issue from the other side; from the point of view of the BAM practitioner. We asked the owners of two BAM companies about the supportive ecosystem around them.

A well-known saying in English is that “It takes a village to raise a child.” I think we could also say, “It takes a vibrant support network and ecosystem to raise a BAM company!” Would you agree with that?… And if so, how have you seen that play out in your own company experience?
Ryan and Lee, BAM Real Estate Development Company in Southeast Asia

Yes, absolutely. We wouldn’t be where we are today without an incredible network of advisors.  For us, it started with informal advisors from our personal network and over the years it has become much more formalized and strategic. I like to think about our network of advisors in concentric circles with those in the inner circle reserved for a few people who care for and understand everything about you. The highest level of trust and vulnerability happens at the inner circle level. Many people refer to this as a personal board. The next circle is our advisory board which in our case functions more like a governance Board for our BAM ventures. They are concerned about us, but also very much concerned about the mission and vision of the venture and ensuring it’s sustainability and purpose.  The next level of advisors we engage with are subject matter experts, who can be consultants and/or coaches. We normally engage with SMEs for specific challenges or time periods.

As we grow, we have had to learn how to adapt our use of advisors along the way. We are slow to bring a new person onto our Board, so we typically engage them first as an SME. An SME may engage with us for weeks/months, a board member engages for years, and the inner circle is  more of a lifetime commitment.  The relational aspect increases as it goes closer to the center, but in all situations we like to clarify expectations in writing that explains what we are asking of the advisor and how we will review our working relationship overtime. In the past, we didn’t have anything in writing and it was awkward to ask someone to step aside from a role, when in reality we needed someone else with a different set of experiences and giftings for a new phase of growth. 

B.C., Hospitality Business in South Asia

We truly believe in the community experience, to learn with those who came before, and that helps and protect from tricky situations, specially in South Asia where so many details and problems can just pop up, whether the complicated laws governing how to open and run a company or infrastructure problems due to running a business in a developing country! Many people taught us how to go about solving these problems and it has saved us a lot of money, time and stress. That kind of stress consumes people, so I’ve been very thankful for all the community input, other companies helping me with supplies and machinery, and much advice about where to go and get better quality stuff at a better price!

I love BAM as a strategy, we have seen that BAM is the only way to bring the gospel into the very closed communities in our region. I like to say, “As far as BAM goes, reaching the frontiers goes!” We now have 16 team members across three outlets in very distinct locations, in communities from three major religions. Having support around us has helped us greatly in these new, pioneering endeavours. I’d say it’s very important to get mentoring from other companies in the same sector and region.

What has been the impact of some of that support/input? Could you share a couple of brief examples of challenges you faced before the support was in place and then the difference having an ecosystem/support network has made to you / your company?
Ryan and Lee

We believe our network of advisors have helped us most by advising us not do things when we really thought we should. Usually it was an issue of timing and although weren’t always happy to hear their perspective at the time, we can now look back and see the wisdom in their advice. Another great advantage of having a strong network of advisors is they can help you gain access to their network. We have seen this time and time again when we are in need of finding new like-minded investors, have a specific problem to solve, or need to rub shoulders with new people for our own personal growth.

One other area, that we believe is important, is in the area of compensation.  When we were just starting and didn’t have much revenue, the issue of how much we were being paid was a non-issue.  Later as revenue and profits grew it was important to have our Board set our salary, approve any dividends/distributions/bonuses, and ultimately any sale of shares. This has proved extremely beneficial as a guard against personal greed. It has also shut down accusations from some in the BAM community, or within our own company, when they question your integrity regarding personal renumeration. We can plainly say that the Board sets and approves all forms of compensation for us.


One big example was our coffee supply, it was not easy to find a good one back in our early days in the Himalayas. That was solved after I met another BAM practitioner that was connected to a good coffee beans supply. This was a game changer us. We also had a similar experience for how to buy an imported coffee machine, we found a dealer via a connection.

And to finish, what is one thing you wish your younger self had known about this topic?! A bit of wisdom you have picked up since…
Ryan and Lee

“Stay Humble and Stay Hungry”: A humble acknowledgement that we don’t know everything and we need the help of others and an insatiable hunger to find out who can we learn from. Don’t wait for it to fall in your lap, assess what you are lacking and go find someone who can help you. They are out there and are willing to help.


I would literally ask for more help and input, and learn way more before starting the company. As a pioneer we have done things at the “tip of the spear”, especially for South Asia. In doing that we have inevitably tripped up along the way, making mistakes! I wish I would have known BAM a lot better at the time we started.


Compiled by Jo Plummer, with thanks to Ryan, Lee, and B.C. for sharing your personal insights.

 Jo Plummer is the Creative Director & Co-Founder of BAM Global and the co-editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website and The BAM Review Blog. 




Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash