Scaling BAM Companies for Impact: Models of Partnership and Ecosystem Building

During our November Webinars last week for the BAM Global Congress Pre-Series, Mats Tunehag had the privilege of interviewing eight BAM leaders in a series of three Fireside Chats, on the theme of building ecosystems and networks that will help BAM companies launch and thrive.

As part of this series, Mats interviewed Tom, Dwight and Joanna, here are some excerpts from their Fireside Chat Interview:

Mats: Joanna, in your experience, through starting a BAM accelerator and running your own business, what are some key lessons you’ve learned when it comes to building an ecosystem or support system for growing a BAM business?

Joanna: First of all, do not discourage someone from being part of your ecosystem, even if you don’t think it’s what you need right now. It’s about building relationships with different parts of this ecosystem for the long term. Secondly, learn and teach. We have to learn from others, and we also have to pass on what we know with the relationships and partnerships we are developing.

Mats: Dwight you’ve been doing BAM for several decades now, tell us about the nature of your companies?

Dwight: We are committed to establishing businesses, typically technology based businesses with 50-500 employees, in unreached cities in Asia. We are committed to seeing strategic, but reasonable, great commission results in unreached cities of more than a million people and less than 2% Christian. Typically we see house bible studies started and growing beyond that, but each location is different… If we don’t see both the financial returns and the great commission stuff happening, we will exit from a business.

Mats: You’ve talked before about the importance of strategic alliances and partnerships with mission agencies for business growth and gospel impact, please tell us more about the benefits of these partnerships as part of the ecosystem around your companies.

Dwight: We’ve learned a lot, we are now in our 31st year of doing intentional BAM! In our size of company, we’ve found it’s a very unusual leader that can hold both business management skill sets and keeping staff accountable for spiritual growth. We actively seek for all of the Christian non-national leaders in our companies to have spiritual accountability relationships with groups, like mission agencies, that will take an active interest to oversee them. Also we want them to infuse the operations, to bring influence. When you are running an intentional, international business it is very competitive, you are working long-hours, especially for start-ups. We need those partner groups to come in and give some support, give some management and to measure us, to make sure our great commission goals are aggressive enough, but contextualised so that they are not too aggressive. We have relationships like that with 20+ Christian great commission-focused groups or agencies. None of them are financially invested in the business, but we want them to be people-invested. As well as keeping our leaders individually accountable, they champion priorities for each location from a discipleship, church planting or evangelism perspective. We have a written great commission plan and contracts with each organisation. Just like having a 3 or 5 year business plan, we have those for our great commission goals, if you are not intentional and don’t aim for it, you won’t hit it. These are places that are tough to reach with the gospel and require focus on both financial and great commission goals.

Mats: Tom, you’ve learned a number of things through doing BAM in the Middle East, tell us about that and what you have discovered about the importance of building Kingdom-centred ecosystems.

Tom: I came to business from a different route, through ministry. I did seminary and then started a couple of businesses and found that I loved it. I saw the redemptive possibilities of business, especially as you relate to people on a core level, where their identity is, where their dignity is, where their livelihood is. When you do ministry around that core identity you are really connecting with people in a powerful way. In the context I was in, we couldn’t hire the people we wanted to reach in the way that other BAM businesses do, because the people were already far wealthier than us. We could partner with them and invite them for coffee, business leader to business leader, but couldn’t really have the impact on the community we wanted to.

The idea of growing entrepreneurial ecosystems stemmed from wanting to have a broader influence in our community and also to build the redemptive capacity that SME sized businesses can have to solve local problems in the community. Who knows more about local problems than local people? If we are able to come around locals to help them start businesses, they own it. Ownership then creates a capacity for people to take care of their own solutions…. We help BAM practitioners pull entrepreneurs together in their location and help 5-20 new local businesses launch. A community is then formed – a catalytic network of business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and all the people that come around to help entrepreneurs thrive. If the Kingdom is at the centre of that, the influence can grow, with community and spiritual transformation both happening. Instead of just saying to other business leaders, ‘Do you want to have a cup of coffee?’ we can say, ‘Hey, could we get together and talk about how to work together to change this city for good?’.

Want to watch the whole of this interview on video?

Discover more about what Joanna, Tom and Dwight consider their key learnings from doing business as mission, in three different continents and from very different backgrounds and experiences

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From Idea to Impact: Accelerating Communities of Kingdom-Minded Entrepreneurs

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?

Read more

How We Integrate Business and Mission: In Planning and Daily Operations

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 one, on the theme of Start-Up BAM, Mats interviewed Annie and Peter.* Annie is the CEO of a manufacturing business in Southeast Asia and Peter is the CEO and Co-Founder of a BAM Investment Company, with experience mentoring and investing in scores of BAM businesses over 20+ years.

Here are some excerpts from their Fireside Chat Interview:

Mats: Peter, in Business as Mission we talk about having a positive impact on multiple bottom lines, for multiple stakeholders. When should you start planning for impact on the four bottom lines, financial, social, environmental and spiritual?

Peter: Think of a number line with negative numbers to the left and zero in the middle, which marks that day, the fateful day when you open your doors for business. Then the positive numbers are to the right that mark the years as time passes. I would say that you start planning for this quadruple bottom line impact at minus 3 or minus 2 years on that number line. In other words you have to start doing that, before you start trading. Once you start trading, all sorts of pressures will overtake everything else in the business.

Now planning for that doesn’t mean it will play out the way you thought it would. Being able to adjust and pivot is the reality of BAM, so you are going to need to modify those quadruple bottom line impacts, but start early.

Mats: And, how do you monitor progress towards that integrated impact?

Peter: How do you measure it? Realise that not everything can be measured quantifiably or numerically. A lot of measurement in BAM companies is qualitative, especially the relational side of things. I know many might think in terms of hard numbers when it comes to things like numbers of people that have come to know the Lord, or various other spiritual impact metrics. However, that’s very hard to do, and runs the risk of taking things into your hands and out of the hands of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean you don’t focus on those things. You can plan for and document activities that may lead to that impact. But in terms of the progress of the Kingdom in people’s lives from a spiritual point of view, largely that is out of our hands. The other thing I think you can measure is what I call redemptive impacts, on things like poverty and justice issues… We advise people to develop a very rigorous commercial plan, and also a very rigorous spiritual impact plan.  Read more

9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment

As we count down to the BAM Global Congress in April 2020, we revisit some of the key issues that we want to address when we gather together. These 9 keys are all themes, workshops and practical steps that we are intentionally focusing on at the Congress 2020 and we invite you to join us!

Here are 9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment that have been themes shared over and over by experienced BAM practitioners and mentors. These are principles and practices observed over years of listening to BAM pioneers, writing BAM stories and collecting information about how to do BAM. Many of these Keys have been shared by BAMers and BAM leaders over the last few weeks as we have explored the topic ‘Launching Out and Landing Well’ – they come out in the stories, snippets, and teaching we’ve shared, as well as in the BAM Think Tank research we’ve been drawing on.

1. Walk with God

Abide in Christ. It’s essential to be connected to the Vine, a growing disciple of Jesus, if we are to bear fruit! That means spending time listening and talking to God in prayer and being attentive to His calling and direction for your life. It means growing in Godly character as you are rooted in His word, and opening up to spiritual input from others. Prayer is mentioned over and over by BAMers as a foundation stone for BAM in practice, at all stages: preparation, launch and continued growth. Having a sense of call and leading from God is another often cited core driver for BAMers. Spiritual formation through discipleship and teaching is a life-long pursuit – whether through books, sermons, devotional materials, courses, retreats or intentional relationships. Making yourself accountable to peers or elders that will challenge you to grow in Christ-like character is another way to keep soft and open to the refining work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Read more

7 Markers for a Kingdom Business: A Framework for Entrepreneurs


This month we are celebrating 5 years of publishing weekly blogs on The BAM Review and sending out bi-weekly emails!  To celebrate, we are re-posting the TOP 5 most read blogs from the past 5 years for your reading enjoyment.

by Courtney Rountree Mills

A quick framework to help entrepreneurs learn how to integrate their faith life with their business life in a practical way.

Let’s face it. Life is hard enough as an entrepreneur. The whole world always seems to be resting on your shoulders. The pressure to succeed is immense. After all, if you don’t, you let down not only yourself and your family, but also your staff and their families! What gets you through the pressure? Mainly prayer and the passion you have for your business. You love the challenge of being an entrepreneur. It energizes you more than almost anything else. Sometimes thinking about your business becomes more like an addiction – you could work on or think through challenges you face all day, every day and never feel like you are completely caught up.

The only thing you care about more than your business is your relationship with Jesus and your family. Still, it seems your business ends up taking over your prayer life and family life, too. You keep hearing about how you should live an integrated life, but you have no practical idea how to achieve this. You hear people around you using the phrases “Kingdom Business” or “Missional Business.” These sound great to you, but you don’t even know what the definition of a Kingdom Business is. Measuring your business’ Key Performance Indicators is easy, but how do you measure your KPIs when it comes to integrating your life as a believer and business owner? This article provides a quick framework to help entrepreneurs live out their faith in their business. This is a topic that resonated most with the 450 entrepreneurs we have accelerated who were asking the same question. Most of this is not material I wrote. Rather, it is a compilation of some of the best material I have found on living out business as mission.

Kingdom Business: The Definition

First, what is a Kingdom business? The best definition I found is one I slightly adapted from Acton School of Business in partnership with Gateway Church:

A kingdom business is an enterprise directed by the Holy Spirit and managed by a godly leader that uses its time, talent, and money to meet the spiritual and/or physical needs of the community around them to advance God’s purpose.

Ok good. We’ve defined it. Sounds pretty simple right? Now, let’s break apart this definition piece by piece to define the characteristics of a Kingdom Business. From this definition, Acton matched 6 characteristics they believe a Kingdom Business should exhibit. Each one has an associated question you can use to evaluate yourself and your business. I have slightly modified this framework to add a seventh dimension (“Reflection of God’s Character”) that I think is quite helpful. Read more

12 Stakeholders You Should Engage in Your Business Startup


This month we are celebrating 5 years of publishing weekly blogs on The BAM Review and sending out bi-weekly emails!  To celebrate, we are re-posting the TOP 5 most read blogs from the past 5 years for your reading enjoyment.

We asked a team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners creating business plans. For this post we asked them about key stakeholders in the business planning process.

A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in a business. Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organisations that are affected by the activity of the business. – BBC

Mats Tunehag, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as  teach and write on BAM. We also asked business woman Julia to share about a stakeholder she has found helpful in her business in Mongolia. Read more about them below.

Here are 12 stakeholders they mentioned, there are others:

  1. Investors – owners, bank or investment company
  2. Business people – in companies working cross-culturally in your business or industry
  3. Business consultant – someone with specialist knowledge
  4. Colleagues – management and staff
  5. Customers – those likely to be your clients
  6. Suppliers – of essential materials and services for your business
  7. Community – local society and also the physical environment
  8. Cultural expert – someone with insight into engaging with local community
  9. Government official – someone who can give you insight and be an advocate for you
  10. Body of Christ – local church community, mission organisations and supporting churches
  11. Spiritual advisor or mentor – someone with wise counsel you can be accountable to
  12. God – the most important stakeholder

Read more

BAM Endurance: Principles and Habits for Long-term Fruitfulness

One of the foundations of business as mission is that the company must be profitable and sustainable – otherwise how can it be a business long-term? We know that making sales, maintaining cash-flow and reaching profitability are a non-negotiables for BAM company health. Commercial success is critical.

But what else besides commercial success is vital to the endurance of a BAM company – or indeed to the BAM practitioners who run it?

Endurance vs Attrition

Missionary attrition is a term adopted by ‘member care’ experts to describe missionaries quitting the field earlier than planned and the factors that contribute to that. There is much we can learn from the wider mission community about the causes and cures of stress and attrition, however, when you add a commercial operation into the mix, there is an added layer of complexity.

What are the stressors common to business as mission that wear down a company’s chances of long-term survival? What causes practitioners to give up and go home? What causes BAM attrition, and conversely, what helps BAMers endure? Read more

3 Reasons to Scale Your Business to Reach the Unreached: Best of BAM Blog


Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is our second “Staff Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Mike Baer

In all entrepreneurial circles, the hot topic is “How to scale the business.” How do we take our company from me (and possibly a few others) to many? How do we add more employees? Customers? Lines of business? Locations? Profits?

Scaling in General

“Scale or Die” is the cry that comes from many startups and from virtually all investors. Growth is an evidence of life and health. Healthy companies grow. But it’s not easy, especially in a business as mission endeavor.

Where will you find the funding to expand? Bootstrapping or “cash-flowing” expansion is extremely difficult and tediously slow.

What about managers sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable to lead a larger business who also share your faith and focus? Where will you find them? How will you pay them? Who will move to your location? Do you use locals? Expats?

And, most importantly, what about your own experience or lack thereof? If you’ve never done it before, it’s daunting and difficult to say the least! The overwhelming majority of startups fail to scale.  Read more

Passing it On: BAM Succession Planning and Exit Strategies

by David Skews

Editors Note: When we asked veteran BAM leaders to identify some of the pressing issues that are facing the business as mission movement in the next decade, among the issues they identified were several areas that could broadly be categorized as ‘resource gaps for BAM companies’, including:

1. Adequate financial capital flow.

2. Adequate human capital flow – both in terms of a) recruiting the right kind of people to begin and sustain a BAM company, and b) succession planning and the successful transition of a BAM company from one generation of owners to another.

3. Adequate support for BAM practitioners, especially mentoring, accountability and care.

We will be posting articles covering each of these issues during the month of June, continuing with the challenge of human capital flow, part b: succession planning.

BAM Succession Planning & Exit Strategies

In the beginning God created a BAM Business but when is it time to pass it on?

I can guess why I was asked to write something on exit strategies by the editorial team!

Having founded a business in the UK in the 1980s, I later realised how it might be used by God with the help of a BAM conference I attended in 2003. Scaling the business was tricky, opening offices in Singapore and then into Southeast Asia. We had a bumpy ride in the 2010s and I completed my exit strategy through the sale of the company – specifically, a management buyout (MBO) – in 2014.

I am currently engaged in advising over 100 BAM businesses on their journey from pre start-up to lean start-up, and now some scaling-up. I am currently working with a BAM business in Asia that is planning the succession of owners, along with a collaboration of two BAM companies as part of a medium-term exit plan.  Read more

Investment in BAM: How to Get the Funds Flowing

When we asked veteran BAM leaders to identify some of the pressing issues that are facing the business as mission movement in the next decade, among the issues they identified were several areas that could broadly be categorized as ‘resource gaps for BAM companies’. These described a lack of the kinds of resources and inputs that BAM practitioners, and the enterprises they run, need to increase their chances of long-term viability and health. These resource gaps included:

1. Adequate financial capital flow.

2. Adequate human capital flow – both in terms of a) recruiting the right kind of people to begin and sustain a BAM company, and b) succession planning and the successful transition of a BAM company from one generation of owners to another.

3. Adequate support for BAM practitioners, especially mentoring, accountability and care.

We will be posting articles covering each of these issues during the month of June, beginning with the challenge of financial capital flow.

Financial Capital Flow – Where’s the block?

Two main issues were identified within the issue of financial capital flow:

1. A lack of investors ready to finance BAM companies

2. A lack of investable BAM businesses, or ‘deal flow’

What was agreed is that adequately financing BAM is an issue that must be addressed for the future, and to address it we are likely to need to work on both ends of this flow.  Read more

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