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The Marketing Value Proposition: The ‘Golden Rule’ in Action

by Bill Westwood

Ever since I left school in 1974 and joined the marketing department of a major (unfortunately now defunct) motor manufacturer, I have loved marketing. It was the genesis of a lifelong passion for the business world and happened to broadly coincide with the start of my faith journey too. Not that faith and business are separate journeys; it’s a partnership made in heaven. Unfortunately the business and ecclesiastical worlds that we inhabit today all too often collide in conflict and misunderstanding. For that, they are both the poorer.

I will never know whether or not I would have been a force to be reckoned with in marketing (although I suspect not) because somewhere along the way I got lost and became an accountant instead! But finance did teach me how companies worked, and when I finally got to manage a business, it was a big help having a ‘numbers’ background because it’s the numbers that tell the story of the value that a business delivers to its clients. Value fascinates me, and if you are in a frontline commercial function one of the things you learn pretty quickly is that ‘everyone understands cost, but not many understand value’. I believe that value is not only at the heart of business; I shall show how it’s also at the heart of the fundamental biblical narratives of creation and redemption too. In fact it’s at the heart of life itself. Read more

Why BAM Training is Important: Adding Value to the Entrepreneur

by Mark Plummer

Making a business work is incredibly satisfying and exciting. Even when a business fails, a resilient entrepreneur gets up and goes at it again having learned from their first experience. Business is an incredible process where creativity, tenacity, risk and hard work can bring financial fruit and a broad impact.

God instructs man in Genesis 1 and 2 to be fruitful and multiply, to work the land, to create and essentially to ‘add value’. I believe business falls under this ‘creation mandate’ – and what an amazing process to be involved in!

I am also quite passionate about training. I believe that preparation and training can be the difference between failure and success, and I am all about hedging towards success. This is particularly true for the entrepreneur starting a business in an emerging economy of the world where there is so much to learn and so much to consider. Read more

Central Asia: Disciple-Making in the Marketplace

In the world of “Business 4 Transformation” we often seem to be enamoured with outward appearance, even though we know that we should be striving for lasting fruit (which usually does not go hand in hand with glitz and glory!) In Kazakhstan, we are facing a similar challenge as the last 10 years have been a time where people have been tested, somewhat by persecution but more so by the coming of the glitz of wealth that believers were not well equipped to deal with. As a result, many are not walking with the Lord and the need for ordinary business people who live like Jesus (even just a little like Jesus) in the marketplace remains a huge need, in order to see expansion of the Kingdom of God in the nation.

Kazakhstan is a largely bi-vocational country where paid pastors remain a small minority. But how do you make a living and do ministry where there are few good examples of Godly business people to follow? Business people are beginning to be seen as legitimate believers within the national church, which is a big change in recent years.

After many years of working in Central Asia, I believe the greatest need is such a simple one that it is often overlooked.  We have so many methods, but the Scriptures say simply, “Go and make disciples.” This is simple but the results are so stunning. We are called to go deep into a disciple’s life with the truth of Scripture, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded”. This may sound simple, but it takes lots of effort. In obeying this command, I will be inconvenienced and there will be setbacks as we encounter life’s problems. But, it is so rewarding to see disciples taking hold of the Scriptures for themselves – and then repeating it with another person! Read more

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

Six BAM Views from the Continent of Africa

We asked people working on the front-lines of BAM in different parts of Africa to share some of their experiences and perspectives. They see business as a powerful means to share the message of the Gospel in the marketplace, deepen the impact of Jesus’ teachings on society, tackle evils such as poverty and corruption and mobilise the next generation of African Christians to transform their own nations. Here are six BAM views from Africa:

 

BAM is crucial in South Africa as a key to two major challenges: discipleship and economic empowerment. South Africa is said to have a high percentage of Christians, however, like many other parts of the world, sin is a key challenge. Corruption, sexual immorality, crime and other evils are on the rise, indicating that Christianity has not been making the kind of impact on society as it should. Business as mission could therefore provide an avenue for regular discipleship in the marketplace, as believers model Godly character and leadership.

South Africa also has a high percentage of poor people, although it is Africa’s most advanced economy. BAM – especially ‘BAM at the base of the pyramid’ – may be the key to large scale sustainable economic empowerment, particularly through the establishment of SME sized companies in rural areas.

Henry Gwani is originally from Nigeria, now working in BAM in South Africa Read more

Kingdom Impact in Kenya: How Sinapis Equips African Entrepreneurs

Sinapis was founded in Kenya in 2010 with a mission to empower aspiring entrepreneurs in the developing world with innovative, scalable business ideas by providing them with a rigorous, Christ-centered business education, world-class consulting and mentoring services and access to seed capital. Through these means, they strive to create Christ-seeking business leaders, sustainable employment and an improved quality of life for many that they may glorify God in service of His people.

Sinapis runs an Entrepreneurship Training Program that includes 16 weeks of curriculum that covers customers, financials, human resources, operations and Kingdom Business. Upon completing the program, members of each graduating class are invited to submit their business plans to Sinapis. After a thorough selection process, entrepreneurs with the highest potential proceed to Sinapis’ annual Business Plan Competition, a live pitch event that brings together business owners, investors and other individuals in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and culminates with one entrepreneur winning a $10,000 grant. Outstanding finalists in the Business Plan Competition advance into an intensive 6-month accelerator program known as the Fast Track Fellows Program. Entrepreneurs in this program benefit from key resources such as customized mentorship from successful business owners, professional advising from experts in law, branding, accounting, etc., and one-on-one support from world-class management consultants. For those ready to raise investment capital, Sinapis matches them with early and growth stage investors. Read more

Two Essential Attributes to Have in Your Team: Intellectual Firepower and Fire in the Belly

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I am a co-owner in a BAM company (in Thailand) with my business partner and we are looking to add one other to our senior management team. What sort of characteristics or background should I be particularly looking for as I recruit? How should we be preparing them (or encouraging them to prepare)? No one person is going to be the complete package, so what should I focus on and is there anything you would consider a ‘deal breaker’?

~ Rookie Recruiter

Dear Rookie,

My recommendation is to find someone who brings two attributes to the table. The first is intellectual firepower. The second is fire-in-the-belly.

Intellectual firepower is the person’s ability to think strategically and find solutions to complex problems. Irrespective of the nature of work that the business will engage in, availability of startup capital or the type of organization that you plan to build, it is essential that one of your first co-workers, especially someone who will be a part of the senior management team, be a person who is full of high caliber ideas. This individual will help you make tough decisions during the early years of the business. Most of these decisions will not be black and white. The hardest decisions are those that are made in the grey areas of spending limited resources on the ever-increasing needs of the business as you start from scratch. These early decisions will set the pattern for years to come as you grow into a mature organization. In many ways the organizational culture is formed in the first couple of years of starting the business and an intellectually strong person will help you to make the best choices, and will help them take shape. He or she must have the ability to think creatively and strategically for long-term planning and then break down strategic plans into step-by-step action plans, based on what needs to be done, and when. Read more

Questions to Consider When Recruiting and Preparing a New Team Member

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I am a co-owner in a BAM company (in Thailand) with my business partner and we are looking to add one other to our senior management team. What sort of characteristics or background should I be particularly looking for as I recruit? How should we be preparing them (or encouraging them to prepare)? No one person is going to be the complete package, so what should I focus on and is there anything you would consider a ‘deal breaker’?

~ Rookie Recruiter

Dear Rookie,

You are wise to seek advice on this topic. Although business is very complex, most things such as pricing, margins, overheads, etc. can be addressed and adjusted as required. However, if you bring the wrong person into the core management team it can be disastrous. It is similar to adding way too much salt to a soup – once it’s done, it’s hard to undo and you may have to start over.

Since it is usually so hard to find someone with the right Kingdom goals it is tempting to put on your rose colored glasses, find any reasonably close fitting candidate and then hope for the best. This is always risky.

Your question is rather vague, so the first thing to do is systematically address some fundamentals. Many failures in hiring are caused by a lack of proper communication from the hiring organization towards the person being hired. The following overall factors must be addressed: detailed role definition, relationships to existing and future staff, management style, authority boundaries, incentives, performance evaluation and termination conditions and procedures. In addition, some specific items about the candidate, including the questions you mention, need to be considered; characteristics and background, is this person currently in a similar position, suggested areas of preparation and “deal breakers”. Read more

A Business Man’s Journey

Tensions Between Faith and Work

One of the great privileges of traveling and working internationally is the frequent opportunity provided by long journeys for prayerful reflection on the goodness of God and the adventure of a life walking with Him.  A few years ago, on one such long trip, I took some time to reflect on my life in the previous 7 years since becoming a Christian, in particular, on my journey towards integrating faith and work, mission and business.

I came to faith in my late twenties in the midst of the busiest time in my working life.  I worked as a strategist and management consultant in one of the leading financial services companies in the UK.  I was being stretched like never before in a senior management role, responsible for leading and implementing major organisational change in my department and at the same time completing a part-time MBA.  That God chose this time to stir my heart still amazes me.

Read more

Good Practices for Recruiting a Senior Team Member

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I am a co-owner in a BAM company (in Thailand) with my business partner and we are looking to add one other to our senior management team. What sort of characteristics or background should I be particularly looking for as I recruit? How should we be preparing them (or encouraging them to prepare)? No one person is going to be the complete package, so what should I focus on and is there anything you would consider a ‘deal breaker’?

~ Rookie Recruiter

Dear Rookie,

Much of what you need to look for in a new senior management team member is what any business would look for: skill and experience that will add to the business. Every BAM business requires a complex set of skills and competencies and these are generally met by contributions from a number of different people working together. Be clear first on what skills the business needs, then on what skills you have in place. You can then see more clearly what skills you would want to bring in this new person you’re recruiting. The skills could be administrative, marketing and sales knowledge, financial expertise or skill regarding local language, culture and spiritual dynamics, just to name a few. But don’t expect anyone to bring everything. We all bring our weaknesses as well as our strengths to any position! Read more

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