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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

Sign up for the BAM Global Congress to get access to 15 webinars in the Pre-Congress Series, plus more. Congress information below.

 

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We will CELEBRATE what God is doing through business around the world, CONNECT you with a global network of people and initiatives, and CREATE momentum to multiply the BAM movement for greater impact.

PRE-CONGRESS WEBINARS: October 2020 to March 2021

CONGRESS MAIN EVENT: 28 – 30 April 2021

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It is not too late to register for the Pre-Series Pass, all webinars have been recorded and will be available to ticket holders.

 

 

 

 

 

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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

Ask a BAM Mentor: Tensions in Integrating Business and Mission?

Three experienced BAM mentors answer a common question: how do you deal with seeming tensions in integrating business and mission?

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I am feeling some tensions as I begin to integrate mission and business goals together in my business operations. What tensions have you felt and how have you overcome them? What practical tips or principles have you found helpful?

~ Tense in Tashkent

Dear Tense,

This is a great question and a common one. You are in good company!

First, let’s think through where the tensions may be coming from. For example, if your business partners or key managers are not believers or do not understand Kingdom Business that creates one set of tensions. Or, if you are burdened with the hangover of the “sacred-secular divide” that creates an entirely different set of tensions. Another source of tension is simply not being sure how to do solid business planning with a missions or kingdom purpose

Second, let’s think through each option.

My Partners/Managers Don’t Get Kingdom Business
If there isn’t alignment on this foundational part of your business at this time don’t despair. Take a discipling approach – patient education and demonstration can go a long way to helping your team see the eternal picture. Perhaps some reading and discussion meetings. Perhaps video training. And lots of prayer. Lots of prayer.

I’m Not Comfortable with Integration… Not Totally
We all struggle with the remains of the destructive illusion of sacred vs. secular. The good news, though is that since it’s an illusion it only exists in the mind. Soaking your mind in the truth of Scripture and some excellent writing/teaching is the answer. Books like Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller and Business for the Glory of God by Wayne Grudem are great places to start.

Read more

The Seamless Integration of Business as Mission: The Nucleus of BAM

by Mike Baer

In the early to mid 1990’s, as BAM was beginning to be rediscovered in Scripture and the world of missions activity, there was a phrase floating around to describe what we were thinking and doing. Our company, The Jholdas Group, for example, actually built it into our mission statement. “Our purpose,” we wrote, “is to support church planting among the unreached people groups of the 10/40 Window through the seamless integration of Business as Mission.” I believe that this phrase, the seamless integration of Business as Mission, was and still is at the core of the modern BAM movements, it is the nucleus around which all other particles orbit.

Let’s quickly parse the phrase in reverse. There is not an “s.” in mission, It’s not “business as missions.” That would limit it to missionary activity. It’s bigger and more encompassing. The word mission refers to the purpose of God in the world. It’s much more than saving souls, although that is vital. The purpose of God, His mission, is to glorify Himself and His grace In Jesus Christ in this broken world by redeeming, restoring, and transforming people, communities, societies, institutions, and the environment affected by the fall. In the words of Isaac Watts, “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found…”

What Business as Mission does in the term “seamless integration” is to simply ask every Christian to bring every aspect of his or her existence and constantly ask, “Lord Jesus, how might this glorify you?”

Business is God’s institution for producing wealth through the profitable exchange of ideas, labor, products, services, etc. It is His engine of wealth creation from before the fall and now after the fall; I, for one, believe that work and business will exist in the fully manifested Kingdom of God. Wealth creation is God’s means of blessing humanity, providing our daily bread, and enabling us to improve our lives and the lives of our neighbors.

Seamless integration means perfected unity. It is recognizing that when God created all things they worked together perfectly, they were aligned, they were integrated. Sin brought disintegration and fractured living. Grace brings wholeness, reintegration, and holism. Life under the Lordship of Christ knows no boundaries, no compartments, no hierarchies. Life and the life of the Body is a unified, free-flowing experience and expression of the glory of God.  Read more

Turn Off the Lights to Share the Light: Why Good Environmental Practice is Great Business Practice

by Mark Polet

There is a misconception that good environmental management always costs money. Well, sometimes it does seem to cost when externalities are not costed fully (waste management, air and water pollution control) or when the company is not managed properly (contamination). 

Turn Off the Lights so You can Share the Light

However, there is another area of sound business management where good environmental management saves money. It’s called efficiency.

In short, turn off the lights.

It is easy for all of us to fall into complacency or just get too busy to really manage our costs, especially in the challenging places where you work. That is why we are looking for quick wins. The first quick win my colleagues and I have noted in working for Kingdom Companies is energy efficiency.

Turn off the lights when you leave! I find it remarkable how many times energy is wasted in companies, even where energy availability is inconsistent. We have seen whole factories lit up with not a soul in them.

Manage your air conditioning.  25°C (77°F) is often recommended, no cooler. If  you have your suit jacket on while you work at your desk, something may be wrong.

BAM is in the relationship business, and enrolling staff in Creation Care is one more step in discipleship.

Watch for phantom power costs. Turn off appliances when not in use. 

Many electronic appliances (i.e. monitor screens) are still drawing power even when ‘off’. If at all possible, shut off at the main plug.

Read more

Messy Site, Messy Company: Aiming for Environmental Excellence

by Mark Polet

When it comes to running a good business, cleanliness really is next to godliness.

I want to explore with you why you who are pursuing excellence in business need to weave good environmental practice into your operations.

Messy Site, Messy Company

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company. Because poor environmental practice is often quite visible in a disorderly site and disorganized operations, it is often the most evident warning bell to any investor or customer that something is wrong with this firm.

Why do I stay that? After over forty years of assessing companies for environmental excellence, including Kingdom-Oriented firms, there is one correlation in my experience that always holds.

If the site is a mess, the accounting is a mess.

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company.

A messy site means messed up books. I have reviewed firms across a score of industry groups. At times I will come across a  company that has an unkempt site. Sometimes it is debris lying around; other times it is  far worse, with spills contaminating the soil. In all cases, I find as I continue my audit that their financial records are equally messy, and their regulatory compliance is spotty at best. The management of their supply chain was poor. The amount of waste they generate, both in lost productivity and actual, physical waste, is evident.  Read more

How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

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 first “Staff Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Doug Seebeck

The Business as Mission movement has made remarkable advances over the past 20 years. It is a powerful movement that affirms God’s call to business and the central role of business in missions and insists that business is critical to the redemptive work of God in the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

While there is much to celebrate, now is the time for a rallying cry for what can and must be done in the 20 years ahead of us. Indeed, the health of our planet, the flourishing of our neighbors, and the integrity of the Gospel itself depend upon our concerted focus and action. And that focus is the end of extreme global poverty as we know it today. To this end, we need the Business as Mission movement to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid who are scraping by on less than $2 per day.

Our vision at Partners Worldwide is to see the end of poverty so that all may have life, and have it abundantly. This is a grand, audacious goal we know we can’t accomplish alone. And yet, for the first time in human history, the number of our fellow human beings who face extreme poverty has fallen to under 10 percent. The latest figures from World Bank suggest the extreme poverty rate fell to 8.6 percent last year—a rapid decrease from 36 percent in 1990. It is truly amazing!  Read more

How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good

by Doug Seebeck

The Business as Mission movement has made remarkable advances over the past 20 years. It is a powerful movement that affirms God’s call to business and the central role of business in missions and insists that business is critical to the redemptive work of God in the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

While there is much to celebrate, now is the time for a rallying cry for what can and must be done in the 20 years ahead of us. Indeed, the health of our planet, the flourishing of our neighbors, and the integrity of the Gospel itself depend upon our concerted focus and action. And that focus is the end of extreme global poverty as we know it today. To this end, we need the Business as Mission movement to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid who are scraping by on less than $2 per day.

Our vision at Partners Worldwide is to see the end of poverty so that all may have life, and have it abundantly. This is a grand, audacious goal we know we can’t accomplish alone. And yet, for the first time in human history, the number of our fellow human beings who face extreme poverty has fallen to under 10 percent. The latest figures from World Bank suggest the extreme poverty rate fell to 8.6 percent last year—a rapid decrease from 36 percent in 1990. It is truly amazing!  Read more

Grand Openings and Grand Opportunities: A BAM Story

We’re so excited to be open! After 3 years of planning, preparation, cutting through swathes or red tape, remodelling, investment-raising and long days of hard work, the day of our café grand opening was nearly perfect. Lots of customers showed up, neighbors congratulated and welcomed us, and we received lots of positive feedback.

Everyone who walks in says nearly the same thing; some version of, “Wow, this place is beautiful, and so comfortable and relaxing. I might not leave!”

It is gratifying to see people come in and enjoy our products and our service, and then come back again. We have already noticed how this business is giving us greater inroads to be able to share Jesus with people.

New Connections

The most encouraging thing about the opening of our café is the greater openness and acceptance from people that it has provided. The next door neighbor to our shop, who we’ve waved at and attempted to engage with over the past three years, has become our most frequent customer. He brought his family over and introduced them, and has begun having client meetings at our cafe. And, new people are coming around as well. We recently met Lek who was walking buy, decided to stop in, and then asked if I could talk for a minute. We talked about the business and then about him for over an hour. In a couple of weeks, we’re going to meet at another coffee shop in town to work on his English and my Thai.  Read more