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Business as Mission Companies (BAMcos) are gifts to unreached communities and God's Kingdom. These stories celebrate the breadth of BAM businesses, their humble origins and their impact in regions unreached by the good news Christ brought with Christmas.
day 12 | gift 12: support + solutions
day 12 | gift 12: support + solutions
The final gift we celebrate from our 12 Days of BAM Christmas is a technology firm based in South Asia. It operates subsidiary companies in Southeast Asia and the United States. We will call the firm FIC to protect its identity as we’ve done the past 11 days with BAM companies operating in sensitive areas. FIC provides tech services like mobile apps, web development, hosting and enterprise solutions. It also develops tech solutions for the corporate, start-up, academic and non-profit sectors.
FIC was founded by an MBA who left a lucrative CEO role at a computer consulting firm, to create a company that would specialize in Java, a promising but new programming language at the time. God networked FIC’s founder with a Hindu manager of electronic data processing for a large government-owned company in this country. FIC launched with this manager and two Java programmers. Their first project was a language Bible program for use in the underground church. The nature of this project enabled FIC to be the first Southeast Asian-based company to receive Java certification from Sun Microsystems and to become an independent software vendor.
By year three, FIC employed 20 people and generated $300,000 in annual revenue. The following year they launched U.S. operations with $225,000 from three investors. By year 15, they were staffed at 85 across three countries, with $3 million in annual revenue. During that time, FIC supported ministries based in its home country with free web site hosting and secure email services. It created a pre-evangelistic online community for youth to anonymously share life concerns and questions and receive biblical responses. FIC also created a community group that became a seeker-friendly path to faith in India - diversifying membership of local Christian churches with the upper class.
We celebrate FIC’s commitment to serving the church of Christ with tech solutions and services that support and extend their evangelistic capacity.
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day 11 | gift 11: multiplication + investment
day 11 | gift 11: multiplication + investment
Today’s BAM company multiplies Kingdom impact by investing in several small and mid-sized BAM companies simultaneously. Many of these companies are in early stage development. InvestCo – our name for this BAMco, is an investor-capitalized fund. It provides mezzanine financing, mentoring and coaching to investee companies and a variety of technical advisory services including: pre-investment consulting to start-up companies. InvestCo also conducts strategic talent searches for key professional roles within BAM companies.
InvestCo is the fruit of almost three years of market research and business plan development. A global team steeped in business, finance, entrepreneurship and cross-cultural experience staffs the fund. The first two loans of $25,000 and $50,000 USD were made In South Asia and North Africa. By the end of year three, InvestCo’s loans ranged from $25,000 to $400,000. Cumulatively their loans exceeded $5.3 million, financing 42 companies in 23 countries in 18 industry sectors. Year four concluded with more than 200 investors from 16 countries around the world, with most reinvesting in the fund. InvestCo has made only one equity investment, maintaining its mandate. However, 10-2% of investors volunteer as mentors and coaches to fund portfolio companies. At last count, only one loan ($25,000) has been written off.
InvestCo continuously raises, returns, invests and repays capital from its investors. Its dynamic model allows for many unreached communities in the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist world to experience the Kingdom through a variety of Business As Mission companies. We celebrate their gift of multiplication of Kingdom impact this Christmas!
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day 10 | gift 10 salvation + consulting
day 10 | gift 10: salvation + consulting
We carefully relate stories of Business as Mission (BAM) companies operating in Asia to protect their true identities. Today’s BAM company (S+C) is no exception, although it has achieved significant impact professionally - including industry accolades and awards as a trailblazer in its field.
S+C’s owner Paul, acquired the two-year old firm in the late 1980s as an American MBA fluent in the regional language. Soon after his acquisition, Paul realized his principal business partner was a missionary organization using S+C as a front for placement, rather than as a viable business. However, the organization had significant contacts with national business owners and government leaders seeking Western technology partners. Within five years S+C grew sales from $100,000 USD to $10 million brokering technology deals and aggressively growing S+C as a viable business. Additionally, Paul refocused the business to headhunting for factory management and direct investment for foreign companies navigating factory construction or management in its country. Remaining true to S+C’s Kingdom mandate, Paul staffed his client’s factory management teams with as many qualified Kingdom professionals as possible.
Within two years S+C grew to 500 employees. One of its client factories, under Kingdom management experienced 10 conversions to Christ monthly and four new house churches within 5 months! Salvation and other Kingdom impact continued to grow with S+C’s success - which included global industry awards in factory design and operations. At last count, S+C operates four regional offices, has equity investments in six national companies and stakes in several offshore companies that are holding or sales companies. By investing directly in these companies S+C influences and directs management selection, guiding principles and operations reflecting Kingdom values. Since John’s acquisition, S+C has established 25 companies with this paradigm, employing thousands of nationals.
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day 9 | gift 9 transformation + home funrnishings
day 9 | gift 9: transformation + home furnishings
As more BAM companies locate in Central Asia, its villages experience social change reflecting spiritual transformation. Today’s handicraft and home furnishing company (H&H) pioneered the early efforts. Established in the late 1980s, it was one of the first BAM companies to receive approval to operate as a wholly foreign-owned business, in its Central Asian home country. Today it boasts high-quality hand-crafted furnishings available en masse on QVC and Home Depot, or selectively with retailers like the Metropolitan Museum of Art shops.
A seminary-trained philosopher launched H&H with a 700 foot rental space, four workers and a local to manage production. It suffered many growing pains like importing and transporting materials and equipment among others. However as H&H persevered through each, H&H gained core competencies: building and maintaining their own production equipment and reliably sourcing raw materials locally. As they grew to 550 workers shared between two factories, they discipled their workers in Kingdom principles like sowing and reaping and compassion, with some coming to faith in Christ. As H&H grew so did their community impact: improved health and hygiene, local business growth, inclusion of the disabled and marginalized and church plants in formerly unreached villages. However, most striking changes are the community testimonies of how H&H employees led reconciliation and compassion in their neighborhoods at critical moments.
H&H not only led economic transformation in a Central Asian community but spiritual and social as well.
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day 8 | gift 8 PRAYER + FASHION
day 8 | gift 8: PRAYER + FASHION
Today’s Business as Mission Company (BAMco) redefines “fashion forward”. In fact, we will refer to this BAMco by that name. Fashion Forward operates a garment factory in Central Asia. Their very existence in the garment manufacturing business is significant salt and light. Their industry suffers increasing criticism for inhumane working conditions and compensation, especially in this region of the world. Fashion Forward provides meaningful, ethical work for human trafficking survivors and those at high risk of exploitation. By choosing garment production as their missional business, Fashion Forward offers quality jobs, with a low threshold for training and education for these survivors.
Fashion Forward’s founders entered the garment business with no fashion or manufacturing experience. Two married couples, both passionate about social enterprise met each other at a YWAM training course. They connected immediately and joked about working together in the future. Two years later they launched their garment factory with $50,000 USD, a Hindu Christian master tailor and a recent fashion school grad excited to use her design training to advance the Kingdom.
Within their first 18 months, Fashion Forward was financially sustainable, employing 24 people with goals to double staff size annually. In an community with 40% unemployment this was tremendous. From the outset, Fashion Forward’s management modeled biblical servant leadership, countering a local cultural stereotype of “lazy bosses”. It prompted their workers to want to know the Jesus their managers reflected. One garment worker, barren for eight years requested prayer that she might conceive and carry a baby to term. When she delivered her baby girl, she thanked the God of her employers for answering her prayer and desired relationship with Him.
Fashion Forward is a young company, however their economic and spiritual impact in Central Asia have been great gifts that community celebrates this Christmas.
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day 7 | gift 7: OPPORTUNITY + SOFTWARE
India has emerged as a tech talent power house. EC Group International, has uniquely contributed to that development. It provides software development talent and services to small and mid-sized U.S. businesses. Some of EC Group’s early developers were graduates of a computer training school for physically disabled individuals the firm supported financially and technically. EC Group provided these graduates a tremendous work opportunity in a culture and industry where physical disabilities are not always embraced. Opportunity is just one of the various ways EC Group has impacted the community of Chennai, India for Christ since it inception.
When Tom Sudyk created EC Group he built it with mission in mind. After working in law-enforcement for 12 years, he became a serial entrepreneur - starting and selling over 20 companies. While helping a mission agency in India with a financial issue in 1999, he learned of their government’s restrictions on foreign funds for Christian missions. Within a year Tom started a medical transcription business in Chennai to fund mission agencies. Beginning with a initial capitalization of $150,000 USD, the business became profitable two years later. By year five, the company expanded into a medical transcription training school, data conversion, CAD design and software development, with its 60+ employees. Many of their Hindu and Muslim staff attended daily prayers and bi-weekly Bible studies. In this same time frame, the company’s management helped plant two churches and a Christian elementary school.
Today, EC Group continues to create opportunity for Chennai’s physically and mentally challenged residents through Agape Rehabilitation Center and Little Hearts Home. It also conducts free medical camps annually in remote villages on the outskirts of Chennai. EC Group partners with a top Asian eye hospital: SankaraNethralaya for the camps’ eye treatment services.
EC Group has not only created opportunity for Chennai, but for the small and mid-sized U.S. organizations it sources with Indian software develop talent that have experienced the salt and light of the Kingdom.
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day 6 | gift 6 restoration + weaving
day 6 | gift 6: RESTORATION + WEAVING
Because of Company Christmas, declining Muslim villages surrounding the second largest city of a Central Asian country, have new life. Medical and other critical services had left these villages due to declining incomes. Company Christmas (CC) is our name for the village-based weaving business that restored this Muslim village network economically, socially and yes, spiritually As with many BAM enterprises operating in regions hostile to the gospel, sharing its true name could compromise its safety and the significant impact described below.
CC provides looms, raw materials, and training in quality weaving design and workmanship. It targets the international market for its weavers and uses an alternative trade organization. Together this strategy enables CC to pay their artisans more than double market wages. As weaving projects take several months, CC also pays producers in installments which provide operating capital and sustains the weaving family during this lengthy production process. Additionally, CC’s Kingdom principles and business strategy provides for locating the weaving looms in the homes of the villagers, rather than a production space. Locating looms in villager homes allows weavers flexibility to continue field work and manage family obligations. It also allows women to freely and equally participate in weaving, introducing some of them for the first time to business.
CC’s weaving business has not only impacted individual women and families, it has restored economic and critical service vitality. CC has established several schools in regional villages. Over half of the students are female, in a one of the largest schools with a population of 750. Educating women is a significant restorative step in this predominantly Muslim region. With increased, sustainable village incomes, doctors have returned to service them. Finally, CC has empowered villagers in their enterprise, by helping them build ownership cooperatives comprised of Muslim and Christian weavers working and managing operations, side-by-side - a new and powerful way to relate to one another personally and spiritually.
CC’s weaving enterprise restored to these predominantly Muslim villages: hope, critical services, livelihood and Kingdom intention for women and Christians.
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day 5 | gift 5 INtegrity + Turbines
day 5 | gift 5: integrity + turbines
Since its inception in Madbury, New Hampshire,Turbocam was committed to missional job creation and support. However, after four years its founder, Marian Noronha decided to launch Turbocam India Pvt. Ltd. to finance mission activities of a local Indian church with whom he had a relationship, and impact their community with Kingdom business practice, principles and outcomes.
Noronha’s decision to operate his software applications and turbomachinery manufacturing firm, with Kingdom integrity informed his refusal to pay bribes in a political economic system that thrived on them. Turbocam’s no-bribe policy delayed its launch and commercial progress. It took four years to acquire the necessary permits to import their first milling machine - a critical competitive advantage in their manufacturing process. Whenever they submitted requisite paperwork, new forms would surface for submission paired with persistent harassment. When the machine was finally allowed to enter India, it was delayed again at the airport for three months. However Turbobam remained resolute in its conviction knowing, the machine’s delicate components were deteriorating at the airport without climate-controlled storage. Turbocam eventually had to import a replacement machine, this time through a port in another city. The persistent challenge with community corruption consistently slowed Turbocam’s progress for the next six years.
Breakthrough finally came in Turbocam seventh year with large orders from business partners in high growth sectors. Since then Turbocam has experienced exponential sales growth. However in their years of struggle, Turbocam consistently supported local mission activities: sharing relevant employee expertise within the community, and supporting mission activities financially. As it prospered, Turbocam initiated its own community impact including: installing safe water systems in orphanages and schools, financing nurses training, employing freed slaves, and providing micro-loans in slum communities. Recently, Turbocam launched a Kingdom Enterprise Training program, a bi-annual, three month residential training and mentorship program for young entrepreneurs in missional business.
Soon after, a prominent national newspaper’s series on anti-corruption, profiled Turbocam’s no bribe stance. The President of the industrial estate where a Turbocam plant was located, made the series required reading and practice of all other estate businesses. Since then government and business leadership has invited Turbocam to head anti-corruption policy groups and activities. They also awarded Turbocam a prestigious award for citizen action and social justice. Turbocam’s Kingdom integrity and compassion has given it a power voice.
In standing persistently for Kingdom integrity, Turbocam impacted business practice and resourced critical community development.
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day 4 | gift 4 INFLUENCE + TECH
day 4 | gift 4: INFLUENCE + TECH
Today’s BAM company enjoys significant influence in Muslim sectors of East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Their sizable financial and high tech investment in these regions has given them significant political influence. It also makes them more easily recognizable. In sharing their story we will refer to this BAMco as AMI and it’s founder as Bob, rather than their real identities.
Some of AMI’s capacity for large scale and investment may be attributable to the multinational corporate experience of its founder, Bob. In conceiving AMI, Bob’s BAM strategy was to develop a global business that could facilitate church planting in the 10-40 Window. He bought a controlling interest in AMI, a tech consulting and manufacturing firm. It provides turn-key tech solutions in high automation manufacturing. The firm manages manufacturing facilities and participates in sector manufacturing ventures. Their partnerships range from 15-100% in ventures with $1-10 million USD market capitalization. AMI started with four employees and within five years, averaged $10 million USD in sales annually. It has managed new East Asian factories for publicly traded U.S. firms. AMI’s significant export markets help insulate it against local corruption, while spurring local growth from its profits. They also facilitate influential interactions with local and regional government.
AMI’s operational and financial scale empowers them to influence governmental conversations in local East Asian, Muslim and sensitive communities. It also provides for multiple strategic alliances with non-profits: in education, economic development and church planting in these locales. Each AMI company has a Great Commission (GC) strategist who networks with local churches - where they exist, and regionally customizes evangelistic and discipleship approaches. Within a few years of its existence, Christ-following Muslims in AMI’s ventures multiplied over 100% annually.
AMI demonstrates how operational scale can be developed and deployed to maximize community impact and influence.
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day 3 | gift 3 freedom + fabrication
day 3 | gift 3: freedom + fabrication
Many BAM companies cannot share their story by name like yesterday’s Dignity Coconuts. Where these BAM companies operate and the nature of their mission in business constrains them. Today’s BAMco is one of them. We will call them: The Freedom Company (TFC). TFC operates in one of South Asia’s largest, most infamous sex districts that employs more than 10,000 women.
TFC founders prayerfully pursued their passion for re-employing female sex workers with no prior business experience. One was a pastor and pig farmer, the other a physical therapist. They sought, help, advice and BAM training to launch their jute bag fabrication business. They started with 20 women, desperately seeking freedom from the sex trade and willing to learn how to sew jute bags for export.
It took almost a decade for TFC to reach daily fabrication of 1,000 cotton and jute bags. However within two years TFC expanded into organic cotton t-shirt production at a rate of 400 shirts/day. Within their first decade TFC grew to employ almost 200 women, exporting bags and t-shirts to around 30 countries. U.S. Canada, UK, New Zealand, Australia and France are their biggest markets. TFC sees themselves as less t-shirt and jute bag manufacturers and exporters, and more like FREEDOM developers. TFC’s BAM strategy includes employment, education, job skill training and business incubation within their community. They offer women freedom in Christ - as their employees worship and work together and act as freedom agents for other women in their neighborhoods. Over the past decade, this freedom has become multi-generational as TFC workers earn enough wages and skill to model alternative livelihood to their daughters.
Recently, TFC created Tamar (Genesis 38) to assist their employees with life management concerns e.g., education for children, counseling, healthcare, debt issues and more. As a result, The Freedom Company fulfills the holistic hope offered in Business as Mission.
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day 2 | gift 2: dignity + coconuts
“We believe transformation starts with questions, not answers.” Stephen Freed and Don Byker asked Bicol residents “What do you have?”. God asked Moses the same question at the burning bush in Exodus 4:2, and recruited Moses to deliver a nation from slavery. In a rural seaside region of the Philippines, subsistence farmers: COCONUTS. However, Bicol also had: monopolistic pricing reinforcing poverty, unemployment near 80%, human trafficking, and a local government that didn’t believe alternative outcomes were possible. With these answers Stephen and Don researched how to create a scalable business around coconuts in this community. Their endeavor would become Dignity Coconuts.
Stephen had significant missions experience. Don was Harvard professor and a former management consultant. However they needed help identifying the profit potential of a coconut business. God miraculously connected them in 2010 with individuals pioneering multiple product options for coconuts far before it became popular. When other companies only used two elements of coconuts for product development, Dignity found six! They would use ALL of the coconut, eliminating waste and protecting the environment. Stephen and Don then chose the harder, more resource consuming route of building their coconut processing facility in rural Bicol. As one of the poorest, remote Philippine communities, Bicol lacked the infrastructure to support plant construction, never mind its operation. However it was the choice that would change this community for the best. Many prayers and a Kickstarter campaign later they completed construction.
Within two years of Dignity’s launch, the Bicol region gained multiple bus lines and a two-lane concrete paved road stretching 68 kilometers, through rural seaside villages. Now a hospital visit is only a two hour drive instead of a several hour one. The restaurant that launched to feed plant construction workers, now feeds locals. Additionally, the region now has construction materials business. The subsistence coconut farmers who answered Stephen and Don’s question now, have organic certification and requisite training. Their products now command premium pricing - enabling their families to prosper enough to consider college education. Dignity also launched a Community Health Education program owned by the community and acquired a satellite dish for its operations. A telecom company followed Dignity’s lead and put a tower in the area - both gamechangers for communication and mobile-phone based services like banking.
By asking strategic questions first, Dignity coconuts has impacted Bicol far more than is highlighted here. It extends to the environment, social, political and spiritual vitality of the region.They have holistically added Kingdom peace and prosperity to this community.
Click here for more of Dignity’s story and their game-changing impact
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Day 1 | gift 1
LOVE + ICE CREAM
day 1 | Gift 1: love + Ice cream
James started making ice-cream for his daughter who suffered from dietary challenges, but loved ice cream! Their ex-pat family in Central Asia didn’t have many options for her food intolerance, so they paired with another ex-pat family to create their own. Several ice-cream recipe swaps later, the two families decided to open a small ice cream shop in their community.
Neither James nor his partnering family had formal business training. They spent a year of planning and number crunching. With US$30,000 of their own money they started with a small production facility - which doubled as a retail location, purchased three ice cream making machines and a delivery vehicle. They were profitable their first month! Within a year and months, they rented a production facility to expand capacity for supermarket sales and wholesale sales to restaurants and hotels.
The prosperity of their ice cream business and the business relationships it initiated provided multiple opportunities to share and LIVE the gospel in an undeniable way. Their staff grew 60% year one and almost doubled with the launch of the production facility. This was significant in a community experiencing 30% unemployment. When a worker couldn’t marry within the culture because as an orphan, he lacked a marriage dowry, this BAMco created a dowry matching fund to provide it. Daily employees from various racial backgrounds work together in this BAMco, challenging historic racial tensions.
In both and so many other cases, Christ’s love and ice cream challenged cultural norms for a richer community.
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