Beacons of Hope: Economic Justice through Freedom Business

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe.  In our third post in the series, Karen Schmidt introduces us to economic justice through Freedom Business.

By Karen Schmidt

Human trafficking remains a pervasive global issue. According to the most recent statistics from the International Labor Organization (ILO), an estimated 49.6 million people are living in modern slavery. This number underscores the magnitude of the problem and the urgent need for comprehensive solutions.

Individuals often enter the cycle of exploitation due to economic vulnerabilities. Poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and limited job prospects make them susceptible to traffickers’ promises of a better life.

In the pursuit to combat human trafficking, the synergy between economic justice and Freedom Business emerges as a beacon of hope.

Committed to the creation of a healing-centered workplace, fair pay, good working conditions, and transparency & accountability, members of the Freedom Business Alliance (FBA) provide jobs that break the cycle of vulnerability. Through access to financial resources, job training, and sustainable employment, survivors are able to meet their basic needs, support themselves and their families, and reduce the risk factors that make them vulnerable to exploitation.

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Business Hope in Adversity: An Interview with a BAM Company in the Middle East

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe. In this interview, we have the privilege of hearing from a BAM practitioner in the Middle East.


Malika H and her husband began their tourism company in Türkiye over 20 years ago.

The couple has since fostered not only a highly successful business – bringing in sustainable profits and demonstrating their commitment to the four bottom lines – but also a vibrant and close-knit community within their company.

The couple’s appreciation for life makes them excellent curators of delightful experiences for customers and friends who travel to Türkiye. Having spent time with them in the past, I also witnessed firsthand how they cultivate a culture of genuine joy, optimism, and connection around them.

It hasn’t always been easy. External threats and difficult operating conditions have affected this company in tangible ways. For this series on BAM as Justice, we wanted to share a firsthand perspective of holding onto hope and demonstrating integrity and justice, in the face of challenge.

….and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Thes 4: 11-14

I took a sip of my morning coffee as Malika set up her camera. It was still dark out, my eyes were still adjusting to the bright desk light, and although my questions weren’t as elegantly prepared as I would have liked, I knew that what I would hear from Malika was going to be good.

It was sweet to see her again, even if just over video chat.

I pulled up my notes and started by asking Malika to add some background:

What sort of company is it? Where are they located? How did they start? And how do they navigate operating a business in their region?

Our tourism company is located in Türkiye, which is a very desirable destination on the global travel scene. We don’t usually have to convince people to want to come here, nevertheless, it can be a volatile area.

We started our company several years after 9/11, which set the stage for the reality of what it’s like to run a tourism company in a part of the world that is connected to the Middle East. At that time, all the tourism had dropped, and it was a long process requiring a period of stability and calm to see the industry return.

Since then, we’ve had to ride several waves of ups and downs…

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A Movement of Consumers: Exploring Our Ethical Purchasing Power

The BAM movement is not just a movement of business people. It’s a movement of consumers. We are all consumers, so while it’s crucial that BAM business owners are making ethical decisions regarding their supply chain and workforce, it could be argued that collectively as consumers we command an even greater power to shape ethical business practices. And any business owner knows that no matter how great their team or how ethical and mission-driven their business model – if there are no consumers lining up to buy their fantastic products, they cannot make the impact they hope to make.

So, as consumers who believe in the business as mission movement, what are we doing? Are we researching the products we’re buying? Are we checking their environmental footprint, or whether they are associated with injustices such as ethnic cleansing or child labour – or simply paying unfair wages? Do we care about the economic, social, or spiritual bottom lines of the businesses we’re purchasing or sourcing from? Purchasing decisions are powerful!

Opening Eyes

I discussed the topic with a group of colleagues in my neighborhood. I asked openly if this was something that they cared about, and one of them responded very honestly, “I prefer not to know the ethical backgrounds behind the things I buy… I just don’t want to put in the effort to research. If I knew, I would feel like I had more responsibility and then I would have to make decisions based on that information and I don’t want to. It feels inconvenient and I don’t feel I have the money or the time.”

This was an eye-opener. Yet the truth is that the majority of the world does not consider the ethical consequences behind the purchases they make, whether that is due to lack of information, money, time, access, or motivation. Even when people do have the resources and arguments for ethical purchases have been thoroughly integrated into major marketing messages, many are still inclined towards convenience.

For those of us in the privileged position to be able to make informed consumer choices, how do we begin to make better ones?

As believers we should certainly care about the impact our purchases have on the “least of these” – those populations most susceptible to exploitation. What would happen if we aligned our regular purchasing habits with our calling from God’s to care for His most vulnerable people? What could happen if we factored our God-given assignment to tend and steward creation as we shopped? What would we communicate if our neighbors saw us living out a deep care for the world they live in and the people they live with, in all aspects of life, not just from our ‘religious’ platforms.

We’re called to be good stewards of our money and resources and as BAMers, we should be leaders in this area. Is it okay to say we care about the least-reached and poorest of the poor whilst also (unintentionally or not) funding slavery, bad air quality, or unjust working conditions? How can we champion at-risk communities in public forums and also when we spend our money? As people who care passionately about how business reflects the glory of God, we have the opportunity to amplify our message and act on our values with our purchasing power.

Consumer demand drives the market. So, as ethical consumers, let’s do our part to drive the market for the glory of God and care of His people!

Easier said than done.

But also, not impossible. My personal take is that redemption comes through research. So here are some simple strategies for making ethical purchases:

Learn more

Start by researching ethical purchasing or products, in general, to find out ideas on how to integrate them easily into your lifestyle. Take a deep dive into learning more about it. This is the best way to start caring.

Check here to view ethical company scores

Here’s another example of an ethical shopping guide

Access Tearfund USA ethical shopping resources

Learn more about ethical fashion 

Most resources like the above are based in a particular geographical region, though they contain many useful principles that can be widely applied. Search your country or region for resources that apply to your area.

Chat about it

Then, talk with friends and your community about it. If you have a friend who cares strongly about the environment, they’ll probably know which companies not to shop with. If you have a friend who is passionate about ending slavery, I’ll bet they have a small list of companies they won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Get those word-of-mouth recommendations from people you trust and keep the conversation going.

Browse the ingredients

One of the easiest ways to provide some sort of middle ground for someone who doesn’t necessarily have the money or the resources to always buy the brands we wish we could is to at least browse the ingredients list on regular grocery purchases. Do some research on goods produced for your market and avoid products that are often unethically sourced such as palm oil, mica, or non-certified cocoa.

Read the labels

Take a quick glance over the labels on a product, or check into the company’s certifications.  It’s not always the easiest or an official determiner for a company’s ethical footprint but it can at least help. For clothing check for labels such as Fairtrade, organic, WFTO, or Fair Wear. For food and drinks, look for labels such as Fairtrade, Fair for Life, Rainforest Alliance UTZ, free range, palm oil free, or MSC. For health products look out for Fairtrade, BDIH, Natrue, or Leaping Bunny.

Promote ethical companies

In the BAM and Freedom Business spheres we know of so many great, genuinely ethical companies that are not only striving for environmental and social bottom lines, but want to use their companies to share the love of God with people. Let’s tell our friends about them! Let’s rally around the businesses and brands we love and know are out there doing good in the world. What a simple and effective way to support what God is doing around the world.

Pro tips:

Shop Freedom Business Alliance

Shop Dignity Coconuts

Shop Simple Coffee

Shop Dinadi

Shop Earth Heir

Shop Imani Collective

Shop Deux Mains

Shop Thistle Farms

Shop Outland Denim

The first two on the list above produce Ethical Shopping Gift Guides and Directories that will connect you to a whole lot more companies. Get in touch with us if you have more great ideas.

Don’t Promote Unethical Companies

There’s an unbelievable sale online where we can buy an item for four times cheaper than market value. We tell everyone we know. At least this is my first response! But before we jump to telling everyone, let’s ask how they can afford to sell the product for so little. Let’s do our research and make sure the company treats its workers ethically and uses sustainable practices. People are more inclined towards convenience. We’ll tend to jump at the opportunity for cheaper, faster products. But by not promoting an unethical sale or company, by avoiding wearing brand logos or sharing that less-than-ethical online deal, we can do a lot of good over the long-term.


Here in the USA, we are doing last minute Mother’s Day shopping this week. What are you buying this week that you can think more intentionally about? Whether it’s an occasional gift or our weekly grocery shop, let’s step into our next purchasing decisions with integrity and care, not just for our own family, but for all peoples and the world we live in.

You can use the strategies above to guide you through your purchase decision this year. Or, if you’re already a champion of ethical purchasing, let us know what ethical companies you love to shop at or what strategies you use when stewarding your purchasing power. Please share them with us at

Shay acts as the communication assistant for the BAM Global team. As a full time content creator and web developer, Shay uses her skills to partner with community-building organizations.





Making a Pivot

by Michelle McDonald Pride

Before a strategic rebrand, our business was called Trading Hope. We were growing, but well aware of looming trends in the marketplace and patterns in our business that indicated a future decline in revenue. A mentor to me half joked and half warned that if we did not change something, we would soon be called Fading Hope. Our rebrand was an outward representation of a major strategic pivot.

Some of the most well known brands have successfully pivoted. Wrigley Gum used to give away pieces of gum on the soap they sold. Facebook and YouTube began as dating sites. Even Avon began as a book business that gave away free perfume with a purchase. While these examples are drastic, they are all incredible pivots that recognized the advantage of changing strategy.

Being able to pivot as a social enterprise is one of the most important, yet difficult concepts to approach. How do you pivot your social enterprise without sacrificing your impact? Most social entrepreneurs do not begin their business based on a market need and opportunity; they begin based on targeting a social problem or a particular community group in need. The entire business model is often upside down. For this reason alone, pivots are of critical importance for social enterprises.

What is a pivot

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Business as Mission from Australia and New Zealand

It is usually a mistake to lump Australia and New Zealand together! Each is quite different in characteristic from the other and each enjoys a bit of friendly joking about the other, as well as a fierce sporting rivalry. However, one thing they do have in common is that both Australians and New Zealanders have been among BAM pioneers, with a steady interest in business as mission growing in each country. We ask two BAM friends from each nation to share about their involvement:


Our journey in BAM started when I was fired from the position I was working in with a mission agency in Nepal. In retrospect, it was the best thing that could have happened. That was 2000. We started a software company, and slowly grew until we now have a staff of 12 in Nepal, 5 in New Zealand and 3 in other countries. We make software for managing pharmaceutical supply chains, which is now used in about 30 countries.

Right from the start we had a strong sense of rightness about starting down this path, and when it’s been tough we’ve hung on to that. It’s a good thing to have. Here are a few things we’ve reflected on along the way:

Things are fragile, especially at the start. A change of mind here, the stroke of a pen there, and we would have a very different story to tell. It’s good to remember this when we start to feel that we’re pretty good at what we do, and good to remember when others fail – it’s not always in our hands. Read more

How The Foundry is Helping Freedom Businesses Find a Market

The answer is always the same… “We need marketplace access.” We work with Freedom Businesses – companies that have a focus on combatting slavery and human-trafficking. This answer is often given in response to the question, “What do you need most as a Freedom Business?” Marketplace access is a consistent, ongoing need for all companies, Freedom Businesses and BAM companies are no different.

What this question does not take into account is whether that market access is for retail, wholesale, white labelling, production only, or any other creative way to enter the general market. What we have found is that marketplace access is really a coded way to say, “We need money and therefore we need sales.”

The reality is that Freedom Businesses do need a market: real markets that are based on quality products and not just the marketing of the brand’s story or relying on ‘sympathy purchases’. While it is important to relay that story with dignity and deep purpose, the story should not take the lead over the product. The product needs to be able to stand on its own merit, with a real market, if the business is to truly succeed.  Read more

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