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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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Join us at this innovative virtual main event framed by a lead-in series of monthly webinars and a follow-up series of workshops and meet-ups.

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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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

The Real Finish Line: Maximising Missional Potential

How do you know your BAM project is achieving all it can for the Kingdom of God?

This is a challenging questions to answer for many leaders of BAM projects.  Often at a loss as how to measure anything spiritual, it leads to those nebulous statements such as: ‘Jesus is the centre of everything we do’ when questioned.

But it doesn’t have to be nebulous.

It IS possible to measure the progress towards your spiritual goals, but in order to do that you need to know what the target is.

Key Concept – Missional Potential

Not all BAM projects are able to impact for the Kingdom at the same level.  When we opened a data entry company that had Christian employees working for Christian customers, we realised that this was a very limited ‘fishing pool’ from which we were able to impact the Kingdom through evangelism.  The enterprise just didn’t ‘touch’ many people who were not already Christian.

As a response, we opened a bakery in a much busier part of town.  The bakery, by way of the nature of its business model, had many more interactions with people ‘far from God’ and so had much more potential for reaching people for Christ.

Is it fair to expect the data entry business to achieve the same level of spiritual fruit as the bakery?  We think not.  So what is the standard we are measuring the projects by?

The answer?  Each project needs to maximise its missional potential.

The Real Finish Line

By evaluating what the full missional potential is for your project, you now have a target to shoot for.  A finish line to work towards.

If we simplify the missional discussion to evangelism only, then the maximum missional potential for the data entry project is understandably far smaller than that of the bakery.  At the data entry project, we could potentially reach our suppliers (people who provided and fixed our computers for example), but our customers and staff were already Christians.  We would need to look for other areas to impact for the Kingdom of God.  Perhaps introducing discipleship for the staff that they could take home, and maybe evangelism training for them to use within their communities outside of work.

The bakery, however, was in a different league of missional potential.  Almost every interaction was with someone far from God.  We were based in an impoverished community, and both our staff and workers were not Jesus followers.  So considering what our outreach goals could be would need to be much more ambitious if we were going to maximise the missional potential of the bakery.

Are Quantifiable Targets Possible?

The idea of maximising your missional potential may be intuitively easy to understand, but how do you lead an organisation to targets without something quantifiable?  This may be a primary reason why BAM projects tend to shy away from measuring themselves in terms of spiritual fruitfulness:  They do not feel equipped to know how to measure what feels like a God ordained process.

We agree that people coming to Jesus is a God ordained process. At the same time, we feel it is possible to measure the project’s effort of effective exposure (EEE) to the gospel.

Our experience both doing effective outreach ourselves, and also comparing notes with some of the best in the world who do it, is that there are steps that lead to effective evangelism that can measured, and this is where quantifiable goals can be created.

For instance if you use the Four Missional Milestones referenced in the A Case Study – Applying Outreach In Business, it is possible to do analysis on the potential of your project to reach each milestone, and set realistic goals of applying the techniques necessary to reach those milestones through your project.

Application

For example, the first milestone is Connect, with a goal to get to the second milestone Share.  Your first step may be to analyse all the potential people your business touches that might be far from God.  From there you then analyse how many of those interactions are potential for EEE.  You then can set a target for 1) training your Christian team members with the skills for EEE, 2) measuring their performance of achieving EEE in Connect to Share.

Ultimately, you can measure numerically how much of your missional potential you are realising in reaching Connect, and the how many of those reached in the Connect phase are getting to the next milestone Share.  From there, you measure how many are moving from Share to the next milestone Gather and on and on.  You have now quantified your missional potential and are setting SMART goals that help you understand how much of that potential you are realising.

Conclusion

Understanding your project’s maximum missional potential can be a key step in achieving the Spiritual Bottom Line your project exists to fulfil. It allows you to set realistic goals for your team, and measure outcomes that can then be relayed back to investors, supporters or other key stakeholders who are supporting the project in order to see God glorified through the project.

It also helps to prevent you from going red-faced when asked what you are achieving for the Kingdom as you tell the questioner that ‘Jesus is the centre of everything we do’.

 

Article first published on the Business and Mission website, reposted with kind permission.

Business and Mission.org is a network of leaders each with decades of international entrepreneurial experience, but also comparable experience in effective outreach. The network was founded by Colin Crawley. Colin served for 8 years as the CEO of a UK missions agency based out of central London and prior to that served as the Executive Director for a California based global Business as Mission group for 5 years. Colin has a global background having lived in Hong Kong, the US, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. He enjoys meeting and learning from other leaders from all over the world who are passionate about seeing God’s Kingdom come.

 

 

What is Success? Advancing Spiritual Impact in BAM: 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 the “Editor’s Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Tom

It is easy to be confused by how success in business as mission (BAM) is defined today from a spiritual perspective.

Once-upon-a-time the core concept of BAM was to have a spiritual impact. The reality that a business needed to be profitable should also have been a given, after all, a business that does not make money can’t survive or, as we say in BAM, cannot be sustainable. Even with this relative simplicity, being able to measure spiritual impact seemed elusive.

Early definitions struggled between Business AS Mission and Business FOR Mission both of which held that a central purpose was spiritual transformation. Early theological debates centered around the secular-sacred divide, could business even be spiritual? There were common perceptions of money and profit, often portrayed as evil and exploitive among Christians, that needed to be overcome. Business AS Mission assumed that when operations aligned with spiritual values, businesses could and would produce spiritual results when driven by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Business FOR Mission simply used the profits of a business to support traditional missional activity.

Today the definition of BAM has expanded to include an emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation etc., issues that are also popular in the secular social enterprise world. However, one danger we face is that while we are expanding, we might also lose what makes us distinctive, appearing to put less and less emphasis on spirituality or spiritual impact. Yet, without intentional spiritual impact BAM is not any different than any well-meaning secular program.

Twenty years on from the early days of the business as mission movement, we continue to wrestle with this topic of spiritual impact in BAM!  Read more

What is Success? Advancing Spiritual Impact in BAM

by Tom

It is easy to be confused by how success in business as mission (BAM) is defined today from a spiritual perspective.

Once-upon-a-time the core concept of BAM was to have a spiritual impact. The reality that a business needed to be profitable should also have been a given, after all, a business that does not make money can’t survive or, as we say in BAM, cannot be sustainable. Even with this relative simplicity, being able to measure spiritual impact seemed elusive.

Early definitions struggled between Business AS Mission and Business FOR Mission both of which held that a central purpose was spiritual transformation. Early theological debates centered around the secular-sacred divide, could business even be spiritual? There were common perceptions of money and profit, often portrayed as evil and exploitive among Christians, that needed to be overcome. Business AS Mission assumed that when operations aligned with spiritual values, businesses could and would produce spiritual results when driven by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Business FOR Mission simply used the profits of a business to support traditional missional activity.

Today the definition of BAM has expanded to include an emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation etc., issues that are also popular in the secular social enterprise world. However, one danger we face is that while we are expanding, we might also lose what makes us distinctive, appearing to put less and less emphasis on spirituality or spiritual impact. Yet, without intentional spiritual impact BAM is not any different than any well-meaning secular program.

Twenty years on from the early days of the business as mission movement, we continue to wrestle with this topic of spiritual impact in BAM!  Read more

9 Strategies to Fortify Your BAM Team Against Spiritual Attack

Every business has its challenges, but BAM businesses face unique trials from the enemy who comes “to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) and preys on weak points in the company as well as employee relationships. The following are nine ways to specifically position your team to be ready for the hardships that may come.

1. Be on the same page

Your decision makers need to share an understanding of the vision and values that guide the company. Discuss your vision and values from the beginning, and revisit them on a consistent basis.

2. Communicate consistently

Good communication doesn’t happen organically or naturally, but requires intentionality. Setting up good avenues for communication include having regular reviews and scheduled team meetings, as well as prioritizing clearing up discrepancies as soon as they arise.

3. Establish good boundaries between work and nonwork friendships

Some BAM employees end up spending every waking moment together and get burnt out on each other. It’s encouraged to have a variety of friends inside the business as well as outside.  Read more

5 Ways to Increase Spiritual Impact In and Through Your Business

A defining characteristic of a BAM company is that it intentionally integrates business with missional purposes. Yet, sometimes it can be challenging to figure out how to do so practically. Here are 5 areas that business owners and leaders can increase spiritual impact in the companies they oversee:

1. Keep God First

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23-24).

  • Establish spiritual principles and values and integrate them into the mission, vision, and objectives of the company. Review how well you are abiding by these principles during all stages of the company’s development.
  • Create a Spiritual Impact Plan that has specific goals for how you run your company with spiritual objectives in mind.
  • Invite accountability to maintain the purpose of your company. Appoint a person or group (often called an advisory board) with the responsibility to assess and evaluate how well various departments and projects are aligned with the stated mission, vision, and values within the company.

Read more

How Does Spiritual Impact Intersect with Your Product or Service?

It goes without saying that the product or service you develop will be tightly interwoven with your missional goals: social, economic, environmental and spiritual. We can learn a lot from mainstream business about how to most effectively develop products and market share that will turn a profit and create economic impact. We can also learn much from the social enterprise movement and other socially responsibility companies about how products and services integrate with both social and environmental impact. But business as mission integrates a fourth bottom line, that of spiritual impact. In what ways does the product you develop or the service you offer intersect with the spiritual impact of a BAM company?

We asked four BAM practitioners in very different sectors in different parts of Asia to share why they chose their business and how it connects with the spiritual goals for their business:

Extreme Sports Equipment – Wholesale and Distribution

For us it’s impossible to separate our products from the impact we want to have as a business. First of all we want to make sure that all our products have integrity. We use the finest quality materials to make our equipment. Factories here tend to use a lower grade of materials when mass producing this type of equipment. We asked our manufactures to use the highest grade of materials possible and have a good standard of quality control in place. We pay more, but we feel that supplying top-quality equipment is integral to our credibility and our message. We also include graphics and images on our equipment that have a gospel meaning behind them. Every graphic has a story and we include booklets with our products that explain what the images mean and essentially tell the gospel. We are actively engaged with the extreme sports community here, we sponsor competitors and hang out with the people who are into our sport. We’ve started a kind of church among this group, we go where they all gather together and we do a bible study there, we regularly meet with a core group of 20 to 30. We send representatives from our company out as they do product distribution to other cities and they are able to build relationships with community leaders and begin to disciple them. – Jon and Dave Read more