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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.  Read more

Starting out on Unique BAM Paths: Two More Stories

This month we are starting a blog series that will explore different pathways into BAM and different ways to be involved. We begin this month with the topic of getting involved in doing BAM yourself. In the coming months, we’ll explore more ideas for enabling, resourcing and connecting others to do BAM.

In Part 1 of this two part series, we shared two unique stories of how God led people to get involved with BAM.

Here are two more stories highlighting different ways to get involved. In the first, Danilo shares how he is has integrated BAM principles into an existing business. In the second, JC started working remotely for a BAM company in his first job out of college. We hope these will encourage you that there are many different paths into business as mission!

Danilo, CEO of Snowman Labs

Danilo, age 34, holds a degree in Computer Networks, and was born and raised in the south of Brazil in a Christian family. His father is a pastor, which deeply influenced Danilo’s upbringing. Danilo loves Jesus, his family, people, technology, and innovation. Those passions opened up the doors for starting Snowman Labs, a digital solution company helping clients navigate their digital transformation challenges. Danilo is currently the CEO of Snowman Labs, where their purpose is to let people experience the kindness and love of God through technology, innovation, and UX/UI design. 

What motivated you to get involved with business as mission?

Actually, it was God who led me to BAM after years of wrestling with my views on the sacred-secular divide in business. I used to see business and serving the Lord as polar opposites. But, through God’s grace, I now see BAM as a natural integration of my faith and professional life.

My journey began in early February 2018 during a service in Brazil, where I heard João Mordomo speak on 1 Peter 2:9. His message, that not all of us would have a call to full-time ministry, but we are all full-time ministers, profoundly changed my outlook. I sought João out for lunch to learn more about BAM, and he has since become a pivotal mentor in guiding me toward integrating these principles into Snowman Labs.

What is your role in Snowman Labs?

As CEO, my role is to steer Snowman Labs toward the vision God has imparted to us. This aligns perfectly with my strengths, especially since it involves overseeing sales, a domain I’m passionate about. My love for our vision and responsibility in sales creates a synergy that drives me daily.

You transitioned Snowman Labs to incorporate BAM principals. Did you run into any challenges or discouragements along the way?

Honestly, starting in BAM felt like a path God had prepared for me, so the initial steps were surprisingly smooth. The real challenges came later as I worked to weave BAM concepts into our company’s culture. Read more

Joining BAM: Stories of People Getting Involved in Business as Mission

This month we are starting a blog series that will explore different pathways into BAM and different ways to be involved. We begin this month with the topic of getting involved in doing BAM yourself. In the coming months, we’ll explore more ideas for enabling, resourcing and connecting others to do BAM.

Over the past 15 years, there’s been an unprecedented rise in the global connectedness of people involved in business as mission (BAM). As the movement continues to grow, many more seek opportunities to join the movement — specifically by joining or starting BAM companies and resourcing organizations.

As engagement in business as mission grows, so do the range of opportunities. There are almost as many ways to get involved with BAM as there are people on their BAM journey and we’ve  been eager to hear more about the variety of ways to get involved.

We reached a handful of individuals who each had unique stories of how God led them to get involved with BAM. Here are two of their stories:

G, Team Member of a Business Incubator for Refugees in the UK

G works with a team based in the UK that helps local refugees relaunch the businesses they operated back in their home countries. She and the team are driven by BAM principals and hope to see real financial impact with refugees lifted out of poverty and released into economic prosperity for their families. They aim to impact social bottom lines by encouraging and deepening ties between locals and refugees, and to have spiritual impact by sharing Christ with groups who, before arriving in the UK, had limited exposure to the gospel.  

What motivated you to join the organization you’re working with?

I learned about social enterprise during my studies of global business issues at university. After my first exposure to these concepts, I wanted to learn more about businesses doing BAM in a practical and meaningful way.

I am from a very rural area and there didn’t seem to be many opportunities for the practical, hands-on experience I was looking for. During one of my summer breaks, a man from the UK (now G’s team leader) started to share about his community’s desire to serve refugees and start a social enterprise in his area. If anyone was interested in joining them for an internship, he said to connect with him after service.

What did you do to prepare for involvement in BAM? Can you tell us about the networking, research, learning, and formal or informal preparations you did?

As I said, I studied social enterprise in college. But to me, it felt more like most of my learning was “caught” not taught.

My mom is an entrepreneur herself, and I would say most of what I’ve learned has been from watching and helping my mom run her Mary Kay business. She’s always been intentional about networking and connecting to enrich the lives of women, not just to make a sale. She always made sure genuine care for people was never lost. During college, I followed in her footsteps and started my own Mary Kay side business. This taught me a lot about bouncing back from rejection, and how to not take it personally, which is hard!

Running my own business taught me how to talk to people even when I’m intimidated, giving me the confidence to boldly ask questions and follow up with people I’m interested in learning from. This gave me buoyancy to keep following up on this opportunity with the team in the UK, even after it had been repeatedly canceled and postponed due to Covid. Read more

Open Doors to Business: A Report from BAM South Asia

We are sharing a series throughout October on ‘What in the World is God Doing through Business as Mission?!’ We are aiming to ‘put the global into BAM Global’ by highlighting encouraging BAM developments from different parts of the world during this month.

God is on the move across Asia! To provide an insight into just one part of it, we interviewed BAM Global Executive Director, João Mordomo, who went to India last month.

Interview with João Mordomo

I had the privilege recently of going to India and the purpose of that trip was twofold. Firstly, I was visiting in a disputed region of the country where business as mission is proving to be one of the only models that is effective. This is both in terms of Indians or foreigners having a credible presence in that region, as well as creating the actual mission impact that they desire.

If Indians from further south in India, for example, want go up into this primarily Muslim region with the intention of somehow spreading the gospel they are not going to be able to be there legitimately if they’re not doing business or have some other type of job. It was great to see a combination of nationalities doing business there, both nationals and ex-pats. There were Indians, alongside ethnic Nepalis who have Indian nationality, Nepalis who are both nationally and ethnically Nepali, and then some others from further afield.

Open Doors to Business

Some of the BAM practitioners there are working in the hospitality industry and others are doing things related to agriculture or ecotourism. Recently, the ecotourism component is looking very promising. People go to this region for hiking, camping and mountaineering, things like that. But then those tourists need bed and breakfast accommodation, they need refreshments and meals. So there is a small ecosystem that is developing.

One of the most encouraging things that I saw there with foreigners as well as Indians, is that they are employing locals, with the hope of them hearing about Christ alongside having a really positive social impact. What do I mean by that? For instance, if there’s one group that has three enterprises in three cities, one city is predominantly Muslim, another is predominantly Hindu, another is predominantly Buddhist. And they’re looking at the twofold benefit of being able to hire these other people from these other religions in order to experience the gospel. The employees also get a good job, bringing stability to livelihoods, which is great because finding a decent job is often not very easy in this region.

Alongside that, there is multiplication. When one unit or location is successful and making a profit, that sustainability can be leveraged to start a new enterprise. A new unit may not be profitable in the first year or two, it’s going to take a while, but when it does it can do greater good through expansion. In this case, it’s not about making the owner wealthy, they’re not sending the profits outside of the country – they’re actually using them to expand. This creates even more great jobs, more social impact and more opportunities for people who wish to plant and grow churches in these communities – but that need a real job to have a role and credibility in that place.

BAM Multiplication

The second half of my trip, I was down in the south-central region of India for what is considered to be the largest BAM conference in South Asia, an initiative of a partner network of BAM Global. And one of the immediate things that I noticed there, which linked directly to what I was doing the week before in the other region, was that the church in the south of India seems to be taking the Great Commission more seriously than ever, especially with respect to the needs throughout the north of India. I met many Indians doing really, really good business; important people, some influential people, doing some really good things. And I heard them talking about their responsibility to reach the north of India with the gospel. That was very encouraging.  Read more

What in the World? God at Work through BAM in Europe

We are sharing a series throughout October on ‘What in the World is God Doing through Business as Mission?!’ We are aiming to ‘put the global into BAM Global’ by highlighting encouraging BAM developments from different parts of the world during this month.

God is on the move across Europe! To give you a flavour, we asked just four business as mission network leaders to give us an update on BAM developments in their nation:

Romania

It’s encouraging to witness the growing interest in engaging with God-centered business across various European countries. Romania, in particular, is emerging as a hub for Christian business networks. BAM Romania and the BAM Connect team play a crucial role in this evolving movement.

This movement includes Christian startup entrepreneurs, NGOs aiming to venture into business activities, and companies exploring ways to incorporate missions into their existing organizations. All are seeking inspirational stories, practical courses, teaching, and events to connect with like-minded individuals. In February of this year, we organized the BAM Connect Summit in Bucharest, which attracted over 100 participants from eight different countries. As a team, we expanded our network, believing in Romania’s significance within the BAM movement in Europe.

After the conference, we set aside time for prayer, team discussions on new opportunities, and consultations with various international BAM leaders. As we acknowledge our calling and seek ways to nurture our passion, we are excited about an invitation to participate in a particular project. In this project, we’ll collaborate with NGO leaders and leverage our specially developed BAM Connect platform and tool. Through this platform, leaders can create Business or Mission Model Canvases to optimize the impact of their organization’s mission and activities.

In Romania, it’s challenging to draw a distinct line between an NGO and a business (as mission). Over the last decades, numerous NGOs have had significant roles within Romanian society. However, they now confront impending challenges such as rising costs, fundraising hurdles, and stricter legal requirements. The BAM movement presents itself as one of the solutions to prepare NGOs for the future and to have sustainable impact.

The personnel, the experience, the services, the knowledge, and the network are all present in the BAM Connect team to serve those organizations in Romania and beyond. People can get in touch with us by email or via bamconnect.net

Netherlands

Here in the Netherlands we see a growing number of influential business owners and investors engaging in business as mission, and local BAM initiatives growing in size and influence. Meanwhile we’re involved with some key mission organizations to encourage them towards BAM.

Right now we’re in full preparation for our annual two-day congress on November 9 and 10. This year, our theme is Integrating the 4 P’s of BAM: People, Planet, Profit and Pneuma. This Congress is bi-lingual in English and Dutch, find out more about the BAM Congress Netherlands here. You are welcome!

Besides that, we see BAM-related initiatives developing, partly as spin-offs from yearly congresses:

  • Itzinya – A course to help entrepreneurial migrants start a business, this training is now available and running in several parts in the Netherlands. Meanwhile the initiating team is helping Hakan Sandberg (based in Sweden) to develop internationally.
  • BAM and church (planting) – There have been steady relationship developments with key leaders involved with church planting and church buildings of the National Protestant Church. Similarly with HeartEdge NL, a network initiated by theologian Sam Wells from the UK (a speaker at our last congress). We facilitate connection between entrepreneurs with a vision in this area and help to bridge the church-business divide.
  • Authentic Lives / Business – Developing life-giving cultures in businesses and organizations. A working group is engaging with this global (and BAM-related) movement based in the UK and their material has now been translated into Dutch.

For the future we are excited that, next to a steady growth in size and influence, we see more depth spiritually. Last year at our congress we introduced prophetic prayer at a workshop led by prophet prophet Sander Wuister. We also gave opportunities during the day for attendees to receive personal prayer. This was meaningful for quite a number of people. Since than some even hired Sander for monthly consultancy. This year at our congress we will have three prophetic prayer-persons available for those who’d like to receive encouragement. Read more

Fruitful Practices for a Healthy BAM Business Team

‘Team troubles’ were one of the top 4 reasons BAM mentors gave for practitioners giving up and going home. The ability to build effective teams and work through difficult team dynamics is therefore crucial for the sustainability of BAM companies. In this interview, we talk to Luke, a BAM business owner living in the Middle East, about his business story and what ingredients make for healthy business teams.

 

What general principles do you have for any company team for building healthy team relationships?

As soon as you want to build a scalable business the business team becomes super-important. The essence of a successful business is in the team, rather than the individual. To grow you need to be able to manage the business as a team, you need to be able to be on the same page.

I think at the heart of healthy team relationships there is good communication and honesty. These build trust, they reduce the sense of isolation, and they bring unity and agreement on strategy. This is particularly important for teams in multiple locations when there is a high risk of feeling isolated or misunderstood.

Honesty is crucial. Getting to the right level of honesty to enable the team to be most effective can be painful and humbling. Sometimes I don’t want to share when things go wrong, or it’s not looking as good as I hoped. Pride can lead us to partial honesty. I am talking about the temptation to overplay a lead or exaggerate about a potential client because you want to look good. However, partial honesty seriously reduces the ability of the team to manage the business, because they don’t have a clear enough picture of what’s going on.

To reach the kind of honesty required, there has to be trust and commitment in the relationship. It’s a bit like a marriage covenant: you say to someone, “It doesn’t matter what you do, we are going to stay married.” Although a business partnership is different, there has to be a degree of trust and security in the relationship, an appropriate level of commitment.

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

Language Academy – Education

I have a passion for training and my wife loves to write curriculum, so taking over a Language Center was a natural fit for us. It was a struggling company at the time, but we could see how it had potential to make an impact in the Muslim nation we are in. People from all over the Middle East come here to learn English and other languages – we offer five languages all together. Some of our staff work exclusively within our Academy, others teach part-time and very intentionally engage in evangelism and church planting work, much of that out of the relationships they build through the center. Education and training work is a great environment in which to be a witness for Jesus and share biblical ideas since we get to spend intensive time with our students. We also have a children’s language program that mostly focuses on English teaching, since the demand for that is so high. We go into Arab Schools and teach children from 4 to 18 years, mainly immigrants from Middle Eastern countries, many coming from difficult situations. The English language represents hope for the future for them and we get to build really good relationships with whole families. We talk in our classes about religious beliefs, for instance at Christmas we were able to share all about who Christ is. We also get to go and drink coffee with the parents and make friends outside the classroom. – Steve  Read more

The Power of Business to Bring Freedom to the Enslaved

This month we are exploring different motives a missional entrepreneur may have for pursuing business as mission as their strategy of choice. In this third post, we are exploring the power of business to bring economic solutions to human trafficking and freedom to the enslaved. Download the 2022 IMPACT Report from the Freedom Business Alliance below to learn much more.

by Freedom Business Alliance

Ghanaian diplomat and former Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan introduced the issue of human trafficking to the UN General Assembly in 2000 with this statement:

I believe the trafficking of persons, particularly women and children, for forced and exploitative labor, especially for sexual exploitation, is one of the most egregious violations of human rights which the United Nations now confronts.¹

Over twenty years later, this egregious violation not only still exists, but has increased. The International Labour Organization estimates that at any given time, 50 million people, predominantly women and girls, are trapped in modern slavery, an increase in 10 million compared to 2016 estimates.²

The Business of Human Trafficking

While awareness of this global crisis has grown in recent years, many still do not recognize the economic aspects of the issue, leaving a complete solution just out of grasp, until now. Freedom Businesses have been launched to address this gap, arising as a groundswell response from entrepreneurs operating in the anti-trafficking ecosystem, all of whom are on mission to create life-giving jobs for survivors of human trafficking and labor exploitation.

Make no mistake: human trafficking is a business. It is estimated that the total profits obtained from the use of forced labour in the private economy worldwide amount to US$150 billion per year. 3 While there are still legal and law enforcement issues to be improved, a major root cause of trafficking is economic vulnerability. Places with high unemployment and under-employment are high-risk areas, where traffickers lure vulnerable people, most of them women and girls. People are making money from the sale of those most economically vulnerable among us. This is business in its most evil form.   Read more

6 Product and Market Bloopers: What to Do and Not to Do

This December marks 8 years of regularly posting content on The BAM Review Blog. This month we are sharing some past posts on practical BAM topics that you might have missed.

Some things are learned the hard way. Mistakes are part of life. But we can also learn from others’ mistakes and hopefully avoid them. We asked BAM practitioners in very different sectors in different parts of Asia to share a lesson they had learned about developing their product or service. Here is their BAM blooper reel:

1. Don’t jump from your idea to… we’re going to do it!

Do your research. Don’t do, “I’m just believing God” and not do your homework. Take time to do some basic surveys and cost comparisons. We’ve always done market research and surveys, asking: is it out there, what’s the competition, how long have they been around, what they are charging? If there is nothing out there then look at a nearby country or look at a product that is close to the one you want to offer. We’ve seen businesses come in with a ‘good idea’ and just go ahead, with no research. One man I met came in with an idea for selling waffles, a business he’d done before. However, he was very badly advised by a local consultancy. He only had one product and here in this country if you don’t have at least 10 things on your menu no one will come in and buy. I walked into his shop and saw in five minutes that it wasn’t going to work as a business. He’d spent his retirement money and closed up after only 6 months. – Ron Read more

5 Principles Learned from a BAM Journey: Matt’s Story

by Larry Sharp

This past month we have been featuring stories from Larry Sharp. Larry’s new book ‘Mission Disrupted: From Professional Missionaries to Missionary Professionals’ tells 27 stories and is out now!

Matt lives in a crowded city in Asia’s largest country where his business demands a driver to take him from place to place. Naturally he has become close friends with the driver, Wang Wei who had plenty of opportunities to observe Matt’s family and he saw something quite different from what he was used to, and he wanted that for his family too. He kept watching and then began talking to Matt about what he was seeing. There were plenty of conversations before Wang Wei became a true follower of Jesus. Matt now is privileged to disciple him in his new life in Christ.

I had visited a mid-sized business in this same country some years ago and observed how God had used Matt to help a business flourish with clear Quadruple Bottom line results.  He returned to his home country to complete an MBA and renew his interest and experience in property sales and management. I knew that he would be a success in this new endeavor so my conversation with him turned to questions related to his journey, his driving passion, and how he got to where he was in his faith-work understanding and in the integration of his mission in life with workplace success.

During that conversation he shared five noteworthy principles:

1. Spend Time with God-Fearing People in Church, Family and Community

Matt is a multi-talented guy with various skills. He had learned another language and he had lived in another culture. And he wanted to make a difference for God in the world, so he asked people to pray with and for him. As he talked with family and friends, an opportunity opened to work overseas, and they advised him to move in that direction. And he did. Read more

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