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Wealth Creation Manifesto

Friday, August 03, 2018
colorful galaxy

Last week we highlighted many scriptures referring to work as an important God-ordained institution. The Wealth Creation Manifesto is another way of representing the importance of work in addressing poverty and obedience to God’s intent. Mats Tunehag has been friend of IBEC and some of his videos are on our website. He is also one of the architects of this manifesto.



The Lausanne Movement and BAM Global organized a Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in March 2017. About 30 people from 20 nations participated, primarily from the business world, and also from church, missions and academia. The findings will be published in several papers and a book, as well as an educational video. This Manifesto conveys the essentials of our deliberations before and during the Consultation.

  1. Wealth creation is rooted in God the Creator, who created a world that flourishes with abundance and diversity.
  2. We are created in God’s image, to co-create with him and for him, to create products and services for the common good.
  3. Wealth creation is a holy calling, and a God-given gift, which is commended in the Bible.
  4. Wealth creators should be affirmed by the Church, and equipped and deployed to serve in the marketplace among all peoples and nations.
  5. Wealth hoarding is wrong, and wealth sharing should be encouraged, but there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created.
  6. There is a universal call to generosity, and contentment is a virtue, but material simplicity is a personal choice, and involuntary poverty should be alleviated.
  7. The purpose of wealth creation through business goes beyond giving generously, although that is to be commended; good business has intrinsic value as a means of material provision and can be an agent of positive transformation in society.
  8. Business has a special capacity to create financial wealth, but also has the potential to create different kinds of wealth for many stakeholders, including social, intellectual, physical and spiritual wealth.
  9. Wealth creation through business has proven power to lift people and nations out of poverty.
  10. Wealth creation must always be pursued with justice and a concern for the poor, and should be sensitive to each unique cultural context.
  11. Creation care is not optional. Stewardship of creation and business solutions to environmental challenges should be an integral part of wealth creation through business.

We present these affirmations to the Church worldwide, and especially to leaders in business, church, government, and academia.
  • We call the church to embrace wealth creation as central to our mission of holistic transformation of peoples and societies.
  • We call for fresh, ongoing efforts to equip and launch wealth creators to that very end.
  • We call wealth creators to perseverance, diligently using their God-given gifts to serve God and people.
Ad maiorem Dei gloriam – For the greater glory of God

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

What does the Bible say about work?

Friday, July 27, 2018
man taking notes

A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with Al, who has been involved with the Theology of Work project. Their group has produced many helpful tools which demonstrate the value that God places on work – not only for God Himself but for all of His creation. The following is from the Theology of Work website 15 Bible Verses About Work.


What does the Bible say about work? How should Christians work? Believe it or not, there are 859 Bible passages that relate to work. Here are 15 verses about work, with snippets from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary, to give you hope that your daily work has value. Whatever your job is, may these verses encourage you.

1. Genesis 1:28

"God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.'"

What this Bible verse says about work: God created humanity to work alongside him. Our work fills the earth with good things: products and services, knowledge and beauty, organizations and communities, and glory for God.

2. Genesis 2:15

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it."

What this Bible verse says about work: God gave Adam and Eve specific work to do, both physical work (gardening) and cultural/scientific/intellectual work (naming the animals). All the work we do is rooted in God's design for humanity.

3. Genesis 3:17

"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life."

What this Bible verse says about work: Adam's and Eve's sin makes the work we were created to do more difficult. God still provides for us through our work, but it takes more effort. Work itself isn't a curse, but a gift from God that's essential after the Fall.

More on Genesis 3:17 from The Theology of Work Bible Commentary...

4. Deuteronomy 5:13-14

"Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you."

What this Bible verse says about work: Rest is a privilege from God that requires the trust that we'll survive without constant labor. The fourth commandment does not explain how God will make a cycle of rest work out. It simply says we should rest and let others rest too.

5. Ruth 2:7

"She said, ‘Please, let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the reapers.' So she came, and she has been on her feet from early this morning until now, without resting even for a moment."

What this Bible verse says about work: Even when her life collapsed, Ruth chose productive work over despair. She went to work despite no assurance it would provide for her family, and God made it work out in the end. God's faithfulness underlies human productivity, but we have to do the actual work.

More on Ruth 2 from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary…

6. Psalm 90:17

"Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands— O prosper the work of our hands!"

What this Bible verse says about work: Work is difficult, and we need God's help to get good results. Ultimately, God will work out his purposes through our work.

More on Psalm 90 in this Theology of Work video…

7. Psalm 104:24-30

"O Lord, how manifold are your works! O Lord, how manifold are your works!… the earth is full of Your creatures... These all look to You. O give them their food in due season... When You send forth Your spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground."

What this Bible verse says about work: God's work did not end with creation. God continues working to this day, sustaining the world and all life in it.

8. Proverbs 16:3

"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established."

What this Bible verse says about work: The Book of Proverbs offers wisdom that transforms human character to be more God's. Through Proverbs' advice we become more trustworthy, diligent, shrewd, generous, and humble. Practice this wisdom and trust God to take care of the outcome.

9. Ecclesiastes 3:22

"There is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot."

What this Bible verse says about work: Work often feels frustrating and futile. We are finite beings with limited ability, foresight, and knowledge. But God turns our limits into a blessing. Since we can't control the future, we need only be content with our work today.

10. Mark 6:3

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?"

What this Bible verse says about work: Jesus did ordinary work – the same labor of his earthly father Joseph. Jesus lived in the real world, not some magical Bible world where everything is perfect. Jesus worked a real job like many of us work today.

11. John 5:17

"My Father is still working, and I also am working."

What this Bible verse says about work: God is still at work to maintain the present creation. Jesus demonstrates the Father's work through acts of healing.

12. Acts 6:2-4

"And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word."

What this Bible verse says about work: The Greek verb diakoneō is used in this passage for both "waiting" on tables and "serving" the word as the apostles do. One form of service isn't better or more spiritual than the other. The community depends on food servers as much as on ministers.

13. Colossians 3:23

"Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters."

What this Bible verse says about work: God is your boss, the one to whom you are ultimately accountable. Doing work for the Lord means working diligently and treating others according to biblical standards.

14. Philippians 4:13

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

What this Bible verse says about work: Look to the interests of others first. This might sound impossible in the workplace, but it is attainable through God who works in and through people.

15. Revelation 18:11

"The merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore."

What this Bible verse says about work: Economics is a moral issue. Sinful Babylon, in which work goes to waste, is contrasted with the prosperous city of New Jerusalem where working with God is a joy.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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The World Cup and missional business: what can we learn?

Friday, July 20, 2018
world cup 2018 teams

The World Cup is played every four years and is probably the only sporting event that truly enraptures the entire world; and it is “football” at its best. Nations big and small prepare to compete for a chance to be on the big stage. Soccer powerhouses like Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Spain, and France, are almost always there, but there is also opportunity, as in 2018, for tiny nations like Uruguay, Panama, Iceland, Switzerland, Croatia, and Belgium.

Every four years there are millions of people who marvel that the big nations are sometimes beat up by small nations. It would seem obvious that nations with 50 million inhabitants or more should have a pool from which to select their 23-man squad and automatically have a winning chance. But, not necessarily so!

In 2018, some very small nations were very successful, like Croatia (4 million) making it to the final, Belgium (11 million) to the semi-finals, and Uruguay (4 million) and Sweden (10 million) to the quarter-finals. In fact, the second and third place teams were Croatia and Belgium. How come?

The answer does not lie with population, nor with politics, nor with the rich nations. The factors that make the difference relate not only to World Cup soccer (football) but to business startups and scale-ups and include factors such as:

1. Culture: This is the social behavior and norms found in human societies and organizations - and it is learned by its’ members, not inherited. An example would be the rule-based countries of the west and north as distinct from relationship-based countries of the east and south. Time is important in the former and less so in the later. This is a cultural distinction. Countries which have strong winning soccer teams have a culture of soccer, no matter how small or how poor. The United States, China, and other countries do not. Canada’s sport culture centers around ice hockey; it does not place a priority on soccer.

Golden Ball winner (best player of the World Cup) Luka Modric of Croatia represents a personal culture which pre-dates his teen years in war-torn Croatia. He like many young boys lost family members in the 1991-95 War of independence. Modric was a refugee for 7 years, but he found way to escape the horrors of the bombs falling on his city by turning to a culture of football. Not only one famous player but an entire country, Croatia, has a culture of football as their identity.

To be successful a business must have a culture based on distinctive values. I just reviewed a 60-employee business in China which has a culture of accountability for integrating faith values with profitability. Built into their values fabric is a care for the families of employees. Their culture is unique, measurable, visible and valued. It takes time to build such a culture and it requires intentionality. Every company should take time to list the values they desire, and then take steps to formulate the desired culture.

2. Preparation looks different in every soccer team and sometimes teams devalue certain factors taking the chance they will not need a certain quality. Croatia demonstrated a mental toughness when they were down 1-0 in three different games, but kept strong with high energy; and composed organized and disciplined play – a credit to their training. In contrast my son texted me after the Brazil loss stating, “20 shots to Belgium’s 8! Wow! So sad! They had their changes – but they just couldn’t finish.”

That’s right, in business also “you gotta finish” and you finish if you are prepared. Coach Gareth Southgate of England missed his penalty shot in the 1996 Euro semi-final, knocking them out of contention for the World Cup. Now in 2018, he was determined to be prepared and they were - for the shootout with Colombia propelling them into the quarter-finals. It was the result of careful planning and hard work focusing on the skill and psychology behind penalty shootouts, all of which included studying team penalty profiles, and past performances, where players positioned the ball and individual strength needed to perform under pressure. Leaders like Southgate research the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in front of them. Preparation pays off.

A client of IBEC’s who is still in business after many years of struggles in Asia, lamented, “I wish I had been better prepared before I started my business.” Such a statement is not only valid for someone who is finishing well, but for the many who have thrown in the towel. One of the things I learned early on in IBEC’s history was how to effectively use the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) in analyzing a business situation. Ken Leahy was a master at using that tool and we used it repeatedly in several countries.

3. Strategy and Tactics: In short, strategy defines long-term goals and provides a path toward achieving the mission. Tactics involve the smaller steps and shorter timeframes along the way. About 2,500 years ago, Chinese strategist Sun Tzu wrote, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” In the world of soccer, for example, some teams are known for strategic team play, others regularly feed high-profile strikers. These and similar strategic decisions are made and discussed in the locker room. Tactics have to do with specific actions on the field by specific people who are usually aligned with the strategy.

In the well-publicized case of Belgium, manager Roberto Martinez changed the strategy by playing a never-before-used lineup, using multiple persons playing out of position and benching players, making inexplicable substitutions. His move from the established 3-4-3 to a 4-3-3 worked out brilliantly against Brazil. “You need to get a tactical advantage when you play Brazil… and the execution of the tactics was magnificent…I couldn’t be prouder. We had to be brave tactically. It was a big gamble to change things and we needed the players to believe,” said Martinez.

Such courage was true of Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic, who moved captain and star Luka Modric around for the final games, and Modric rose to the occasion. Strategy and tactics need to work together. Strategic thinkers and practitioners need to work together. And they did for Croatia.

I visited Outland Denim in Cambodia earlier this year. As a freedom business they state, “Our circular business model allows our seamstresses, staff and customers to participate in creating a better world not only for themselves but for the next generation by stopping the cycle of abuse, exploitation and poverty through opportunity and personal empowerment.” Such a strategic map allows them to reach their goals.

In addition, I also saw tactical decisions demonstrating the integrity of the Outland Denim. For example, they send buyers to Turkey to ensure they have ethically sourced denim. They want to be socially responsible in every aspect of the business, and it involves tactical decisions in the supply chain, HR, marketing, sales, and the empowerment of the employees.

4. Talent: Both Croatia and Belgium realized they had an “outstanding talented generation of players” and credited their small talent pool as an advantage. The players basically know each other before the training for the national team. Agent for tiny Iceland, who qualified for the tournament, stated that a big advantage is that the guys have played together since they were young. “Our team are like brothers,” said Magnus Magnuson. Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said, “We have big hearts and we fight for our people back home.”

An outstanding talented generation like Croatia and Belgium have this year, does not always come along, but on the other hand it does not just happen. Intentionality, talent scouting, and managerial decisions go into finding and developing talent.

The same is true for a business. We have to hold our standards high, hire only the best, and provide the incentives which will drive success. When the Barrington Group set out to start their own factory in China rather than outsource to suppliers, they set out to find the best managers, and they did in Kirk Parette and Ben Briggs. Both men set the direction for a business which integrates kingdom values, social concern and personal care, with profitability and job creation. They live what they believe.

5. Coaching: We have already referred to Manager/coach Martinez (Belgium) and Dalic (Croatia) as strategic coaches. Coach Southgate (England) is a credible, respected leader because he has been in the players shoes; he knows what is going on in their heads and he understands the challenges they are facing. As an inspirational leader, each of the 23 players respect his experience. He has bounced back from failure and learned to focus on the end goal, and he is a man with empathy and heart, even for the opposition. How can we forget his effort to console the Colombian midfielder Mateus Uribe after he lost the match for Colombia with his missed penalty kick?

Start-up missional businesses need coaches and consultants. Large Fortune 500 companies need coaches. Wise managers realize the importance of coaching. IBEC started in 2006 because of a comment by a startup owner returning from Asia with the comment, “I wish I had some coaching as I began my company, as it would have saved me a lot of pain and wasted time.” That is why we exist. Our coaches have experienced failure, like coach Southgate, and have seen the pathway to success. They have life and business lessons which can be shared to empower others.

Long-time IBEC board member, consultant and former Director of IBEC, Ken Leahy, after a project completion, or a business closure, or seeming failure, would always say, “Let’s set a time to talk about ‘lessons learned’. Leaders learn from the past. A company we coached in Central Asia failed to make a transition and the owner shut it down. One of our biggest disappointments was the closure of a company in Indonesia, but there was an interview with the owner and then with IBEC consultants. It was important to understand the “lessons learned.” That’s what coaches do. And that’s how teams win and businesses succeed.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Entrepreneurial principles observed in three elementary school girls

Friday, July 13, 2018
elements of success

Yesterday on my daily walk, I rounded a corner to the sound of a young girl playing her guitar. She wasn’t bad for a 10-year-old so I crossed the road to listen more closely and found her two younger sisters busy selling their product – homemade cookies.

I doubt that they understood the term “lean startup”, and for sure they had never heard of Eric Reis, Ash Maurya or any of the other gurus of the 9 segments of the lean canvas.1 I wished my university class from this past spring session could see the positives and negatives of this little business startup.

Quality Product: It is tough to find homemade cookies nowadays and my city is fairly affluent with plenty of discretionary money, especially residents in this area. So, they had hit upon a viable product. The girls did have some commercial bagged popcorn for sale but there was no customer interest – the customers wanted the homemade stuff.

Customer segments: It appeared they understood the importance of a strategic location right on the Burke Gilman Trail where hundreds of joggers and bikers pass daily. Old boys like me stroll slowly by and young bucks sail past on bikes built for this 14-mile former rail bed. They knew many of us would love the idea of taking home kid-friendly star and moon homemade cookies with sprinkles.

Problem to be solved: I asked them what motivated them, attempting to draw out their value proposition. They readily replied they were broke and needed some cash for summer spending. At one dollar a cookie, I decided to keep my cash outlay to five of the sprinkle cookies for the five grandkids back in my house and forego purchasing the chocolate chips. I might have doubled my order if the proceeds had been going to a good cause such as the homeless of our city; something these little entrepreneurs might have considered more closely.

Cost - Revenue Structure: The kids’ sales forecast indicated a high margin as the cost of the ingredients was pennies on the dollar; however, they discovered that baking cookies is labor intensive. They had been working in a hot kitchen all day the day before. There was no other overhead to speak of since the grassy shade provided a welcome break for the runners and kept the product safe from ants and mosquitoes.

Marketing: The kids were pretty much on target about the demand side of economics, but discovered how hard the supply side was, with the labor-intensive baking. I was willing to agree to their pricing model, as a treat for the grandkids at home. The older girl playing the guitar was an ingenious marketing technique and provided for a good conversation while deciding on which cookies to buy and how many.

Organization and Operations: It was pretty clear that the 8-year-old was in charge. She answered my questions and made recommendations when I asked what they thought my grandkids would like. The older girl had musical talent, so she was well qualified to display her skill for the benefit of the business. The seven-year-old served as a much-appreciated gopher.

Sales Strategy: Their plan was for each customer to buy one or two cookies and walk away eating them, but they were unprepared for contingencies. When I asked for a bag for my five cookies since I had a good walk ahead of me, they had none; but a good attitude ensued and the youngest girl ran to her mother and returned with zip lock bags.

I came home to my five grandkids aged four to ten. Before they each got one of these cleverly decorated cookies, we discussed the little business which I had visited and with delight I listened as they brainstormed what entrepreneurial activity they could generate. Of course, it was not long until one of them said, “Grandpa will you help us?”

The following website suggests that children can be prepared early on in life to think with an entrepreneurial mindset and parents and grandparents can help.

1. Cut the allowance
2. Encourage entrepreneurial activities
3. Be a mentor
4. Teach basic bookkeeping
5. Teach your kid to fish

1. Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup. Random House, New York, NY. 2011.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Important stakeholders for a BAM startup

Friday, July 06, 2018
the words start up with finger pointing upwards
This reprint from the Business As Mission website is an important reminder of the important stakeholders for kingdom startups. Each should be recognized and served with excellence and integrity.

We asked a team of BAM experts to give some practical advice for BAM practitioners creating business plans. For this post we asked them about key stakeholders in the business planning process.

A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in a business. Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organizations that are affected by the activity of the business. – BBC

Mats Tunehag, Larry Sharp and Garry all actively mentor frontline BAM companies – as well as teach and write on BAM. We also asked business woman Julia to share about a stakeholder she has found helpful in her business in Mongolia. Read more about them below.

Here are 12 stakeholders they mentioned, there are others:

1. Investors – owners, bank or investment company
2. Business people – in companies working cross-culturally in your business or industry
3. Business consultant – someone with specialist knowledge
4. Colleagues – management and staff
5. Customers – those likely to be your clients
6. Suppliers – of essential materials and services for your business
7. Community – local society and also the physical environment
8. Cultural expert – someone with insight into engaging with local community
9. Government official – someone who can give you insight and be an advocate for you
10. Body of Christ – local church community, mission organizations and supporting churches
11. Spiritual advisor or mentor – someone with wise counsel you can be accountable to
12. God – the most important stakeholder

Who do you feel it is essential to engage with as you develop a business plan for a BAM company? Why are these particular stakeholders so important?

Mats Tunehag:
First list all the stakeholders, and make sure God is one of them. Secondly, try to understand how your business will affect various stakeholders, and possibly have positive impact on them. How will you / the business serve them? Thirdly, realize that the business is accountable to many stakeholders, but in various ways and degrees. Some will be formal and direct. Others informal and indirect. How will you be accountable to them? Examples of stakeholders: Investors, Staff, Customers, Suppliers, Community, God.

There are three people that you should certainly engage:

1. Business person – Someone that has already done the business you are interested in doing. Often new potential business owners see the world through rose colored glasses. This is actually an essential quality of any business person – you have to believe that success it at least possible. But you also have to find out what is actually required to do this business.

2. Cultural expert – Someone who is familiar with the culture. Roles, responsibilities and attitudes towards work are not necessarily the same from one culture to another. Evaluating your own expectations and then linking them with local expectations is essential. Not recognizing this is like launching a perfectly good brand new boat into mine-filled waters. You’ll be fine for a while, but sooner or later you’ll hit a mine and there goes your new boat to the bottom of the ocean.

3. Spiritual advisor or accountability person – BAM is not merely an exercise in business practices. You will be under attack. Learn from others what to expect and how to deal with it. This kind of mentor is the hardest person to find. Many mission agencies don’t yet truly understand BAM, so relying on them for this support, while certainly a good first step, should probably not be your only resource in this area.

Larry Sharp:
I would suggest that if the “would-be BAM practitioner” is an entrepreneur or business owner it is mandatory to engage with the following persons:
  • Your investors – people who take an equity position usually have something to say about one or more elements of the business.
  • A business consultant who has experience in one or more of the following: your product; your country; business startups, or experience in success or failure. No startup should be without consulting help.
  • Another similar business owner doing business cross culturally. I usually recommend that you visit another company which is functioning and is very similar to what you hope to accomplish, no matter where it is in the world – though it should be cross-cultural.
We involved our local official (responsible for the district we work in) in our plans. This is the lowest level but also grassroots level government official. She appreciated our communication with her and that we didn’t only go to the high level offices. We related our goals to improve the lives of young people and workers with the healthy environment we aimed to create. She was on board from the beginning and made much of our set up smooth by her advice. We try to touch base once a year and keep her in the loop if we make changes that might affect or reflect on the district.

Any tips for engaging with those stakeholders? Any wisdom to share or best approaches?

Larry Sharp:
One tip to start with is to ask for their wisdom and experience. Most people feel valued when you ask them questions and have a spirit of wanting to listen, learn and apply what is learned. Secondly I have found developing an advisory team to be productive. For example, an advisory team we set up for a company in North Africa has someone from the home church, a consultant, an investor, and a successful owner of another company in the country. Another thought would be to have a regular phone or skype call with people like this (stakeholders) to share your hard things and good news and ask for their thoughts. They know you are the owner and are doing BAM in another culture and they know you will have to sift through their input, but you will likely pick up some pearls of wisdom from their life and business experience.

Mentors and advisors are busy people. When I owned my own business I would get random phone calls from young people asking to come and chill with me for a while during the busy business day so we could discuss their future. I would say to myself, “What are you talking about? I’m up to my neck in alligators trying to keep this place going and you want to come and waste my time? I don’t think so.” However, I have mentored many young people. Here’s how we would find each other: I would look for young people that appeared to have the initiative, training, had done some preliminary work on their idea and also demonstrated the potential to accept advice. Therefore, if I did spend my valuable personal time with them then there was at least a chance that it was not time wasted and might even prove to be beneficial.

Mentors, don’t grow on trees. You have to search them out. Ask people in your circle of acquaintances who they recommend for advice and mentoring. Your approach is also very important. Be prepared. Don’t start off a conversation with something like, “I want to start a bakery in Tuktoyaktuk (a real place), what do you think?” Do some homework about bakeries. Find out what the local bakeries in your target area do and why might there be a demand for your products and services. Think of a mentor/advisor as a car racing coach. It will go a lot better with any potential advisor if you show up with a race car instead of showing up and asking them how to build a race car so can then enter the race!

Mats Tunehag:
When engaging with investors please make sure that you and the investors appreciate the purpose and the nature of a BAM business. This includes embracing multiple bottom-lines and multiple stakeholders. For all of us in general but for investors in particular we need to understand the difference between a Wall Street concept and a BAM Street Concept.

When engaging with the church and mission agencies remember that BAM is not doing business with a touch of ‘churchianity’. We also need to understand that we cannot convert anyone or force a spiritual impact. In the words of the apostle Paul: I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. Prayer is essential with God as our prime stakeholder. We must be prepared for another day, week, year, and decade in the business, as we constantly and intentionally shape the business for God and people – for many stakeholders and for multiple bottom-lines. God may in his wisdom and time use our professionalism, excellence and integrity in business to bring people to himself. For further glimpses on what we are to do and what we can expect God to do, as we do BAM, see Business as Mission: Chronos and Kairos. A Biblical worldview on time is essential.


Larry Sharp is the Founder and current Director of Strategic Training and Partnerships of a Business for Transformation (BAM, B4t) consulting firm, International Business and Education Consultants. Larry served 21 years in Brazil and then 20 years as Crossworld VP of Operations and as Vice President of Business Partnerships. He is currently a VP Emeritus and consultant with Crossworld. Since 2007 he has devoted energies toward Business as Mission (BAM) and currently is a consultant on BAM and education themes. Larry travels within North America speaking and teaching in conferences, colleges and churches on themes related to Business As Mission (BAM, B4t) and missions. His travels abroad relate to BAM, crisis preparation and management, and team building.

Mats Tunehag serves on the European Economic Summit Steering Committee and is the Senior Associate on Business as Mission for both the Lausanne Movement and World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission. He is the co-editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission and currently the co-chair of BAM Global. He also serves with a global investment fund based on Christian values that helps SMEs to grow in size, profitability and holistic impact in the Arab world and Asia. Visit MatsTunehag.com for more resources from Mats.

Garry is a retired businessman who has been mentoring small businesses for the last 20 years. He has been involved in cross cultural business activities for the last 10 years and has visited 20 countries during that time. Garry and his wife are doing small business training and funding in a restricted access country in Asia. Having started, grown and sold his own business he understands the trials, potential pitfalls and necessary success factors of day to day business activities. He continues to learn and share about the cross cultural aspects of business and especially the need to learn about and manage expectations in the local cultural context.

Julia has been a business owner in Mongolia for 12 years.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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“Let freedom ring” for victims on this Independence Day

Saturday, June 30, 2018
American Flag & Firework Sparkler
I recently received a memo from a former employee who married and went with her husband to Asia to start a business in the red-light district of a major city. The value proposition was to provide baked goods and gourmet coffee to the international market by training and hiring employees coming out of the trafficking and prostitution industries.

The start-up business has become successful and they are now opening a second café in another area of the city and hiring seven more former sex victims. Their total number of employees will now total forty. We call businesses like this freedom businesses because they bring freedom to those trapped in modern slavery which is propelled by organized criminal activity. This dehumanization of up to 40 million slaves worldwide today includes the trafficking of boys and girls for purposes of exploitation, sex slavery, family abuse of women and children, and labor exploitation. It exists in every major city in North America and the world.

While listening to a short YouTube video of my friend describing the expansion efforts, a pop up on the sidebar showed country star Martina McBride singing her hit song, Independence Day. As 1995 CMA Song of the Year with over half a million in CD sales and millions of YouTube viewers, it is a catchy song often played around Independence Day. Yes, the context of the story happens on Independence Day, but the song writer’s intent was to highlight the issue of wife and child abuse, and the need to be “free” from such bondage.

The goal, suggests the song, is to “…let freedom ring” and “…let the weak be strong…” McBride is doing her part to bring awareness to the colossal problem of victimization of the weak of this world. There is an economic supply and demand side to the issue. The demand size reflects the evil-driven desire for exploitation, or for sex, or easy money. On the supply side is poverty, unemployment, disempowerment and even starvation. Desperate lives many times take desperate steps to survive.

As pointed out in blogs on this site in the month of May, there is a place for those who are rescuing and restoring those enslaved or trafficked, but the only real way to break the systemic cycle is “for profit businesses” which provide an alternative solution. We can do something about the supply side. We can “let the weak be strong” with job creation and thus let freedom ring.

Second in the 3-part Freedom business series: Note the diagram at the end and envision your place.

On this Independence Day, let’s give our thoughts, prayers, and expertise to solutions which help freedom businesses. You can be a part of capitalizing such businesses, providing expertise through consulting and coaching, and we can educate ourselves today. Dare to get involved! Take a step to “let freedom ring” for someone enslaved today.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Business As Mission metrics in Togo, West Africa

Friday, June 22, 2018
red peppers growing in field
As I sat down at my computer to write a blog about Business As Mission metrics using some grids from my university class on business startups, I opened a letter from a friend living in Togo, West Africa. It was passed on to me by IBEC consultant Rick Buddemeier. I realized that here was a story demonstrating the theory of my textbook. Why write about theory when there is a real-life, right-now narrative?

For an entrepreneur, startup metrics are very different than those for an established company. Rather than measuring against a business plan, startup owners are looking for feedback on whether their business model is working. A lean startup business model canvas is a simple blueprint which points to a customer, and includes data reflecting a clear understanding of the problem to be solved, proof of concept, customer validation, unique value proposition, risk analysis and the like. Sooner or later typical metrics of a scaling businesses emerge.

On the missional half of the business are metrics such as significant spiritual conversations, time getting to know and love people, numbers studying the scriptures, committed followers of Jesus, and group meetings for fellowship, study and teaching.

Levi graduated from the Missionary Training Institute of Togo last year and moved to a region where relocated families had recently settled. Most everyone is Muslim, unreached with the Gospel, and very poor. But Levi is not a typical “missionary” in west Africa. He is a pepper farmer who brought pepper to the region and is expanding his enterprise to cultivate more land and hire more employees. He supports his family and the worker families.

People see that Levi cares about them and their success. He now develops quality seed which he sells to the new farmers and he serves as a consultant for them. He has won the respect of the people in Mango as he has regular contact with the them on a day-to-day basis. There is no secular-sacred dichotomy for Levi as he lives out his Christian values in a holistic manner in the marketplace. He not only shares verbally who Jesus is, but he lives who Jesus is.

Work is ministry for Levi. “This is in fact a typical example of how we want our African Christians to use their work as ministry, a means of financial support and also a way to meet the needs of the community they serve. When needs are met, hearts will be opened and disciples made. They should be trained to use their work on the field to reach the unreached people. With the gospel in one hand and their work in another, they are able to come in contact with their communities especially in Muslim areas” says my friend Kawashi in an open letter.

Metrics for business? Yes – paying customers for the pepper, scale allowing for more fields and employees, increased profits and market share, etc.

Metrics for mission? Yes – significant conversations on a regular basis; Muslim friends who appreciate him, young people who are studying the Bible, and a church of 20 adults plus children.

Business As Mission (BAM) is real business (profit, job creation) and real mission (making followers of Jesus and stewarding God’s creation). Levi is doing just that in Togo. BAM can be done anywhere in the world, and IBEC’s vision is to help those who are committed to seeing it happen.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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The most successful sports business start-up of all time – 4 reasons why

Friday, June 15, 2018
ice hockey teams around goal

A start-up is a fledgling business enterprise. The American Heritage Dictionary suggests it is “a business or undertaking that has recently begun operation.” A start-up is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed,” says Neil Blumenthal, cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker. 

IBEC has been working with start-up companies since its beginning in 2006 and so all of us are keenly interested in what makes for success in a business start-up. But it is not common at all that a sports franchise is among successful start-ups, especially one that becomes successful very quickly.

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the premier ice hockey league in North America and the grand finale of each season is the awarding of the Stanley Cup, named from Canada’s Lord Stanley in 1892. It is the oldest existing championship trophy of any pro franchise. This year, the Eastern Champion Washington Capitals played an unlikely opponent, the Western Champion, Vegas Golden Knights. 

But the Golden Knights are a start-up; an expansion team which did not exist two years ago. After their inception in June 2016, and one year of preparation they began the hockey season in early October 2017. Everyone including their owners expected it would be 3-5 years before they would be a team to contend with. But by May 2018, they had become the most successful expansion team in the history of sports and were vying for the coveted Stanley Cup.

They had finished the regular season with the fifth best record of the 31 teams in the NHL and had posted a 12-3 record in the post-season before the Stanley Cup finals began on May 28. How can this be?

There are at least four reasons for the success of this team in the desert.

They built a sense of community. The infamous Las Vegas shooting took place six days before their hockey season opened on October 6, and the players immediately identified with the pain of the city. As they reached out helping people, volunteering with civic groups, and honoring survivors at the games, they became a rallying point for the city and a pathway to healing. As the only pro team of the city, and one that wanted to belong to the citizens, they were determined to win big for the people. They became the heroes of Las Vegas.

The story reminds me of BAM kingdom business entrepreneur, Bill Job, who built a successful business in Asia. He once told the city leaders, “I want to help you be successful…I want you to be proud of me and my business.” God honored such a community focus. It was not all about him or one or two people – but about the community and its people.

They coalesced as a team. The players joked among themselves about being misfits. When the NHL approves an expansion team, the new team gets to pick a player from all the other teams, but the other teams can protect 11 players each, which means every player selected was not one of the top eleven protected by their former team. Not a good feeling.

But they decided there was only one way forward, to play as a team and work together for success. With the exception of goal tender, Marc-Andre Fleury, there were no superstars. No player finished this first season as one of the top twenty-point getters in the league, but four players had sixty or more points in a balanced team effort. It was a teamwork in the truest sense.

Start-up experts, Nager, Nelsen and Nouyrigat suggest that what matters most in building a start-up team are complementary skills, clear and aligned interests and energy and enthusiasm.1 BAM teams need to strive toward each of these.

Smart player selections. General Manager George McPhee and owner Bill Foley did an amazing job of seeing what others could not see. They saw potential in thirty “unprotected” guys, some of whom had not been given a chance as yet. Coach Gerard Gallant had been fired a few months earlier by his former NHL team and hidden gems like William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault turned out to be keys to the team’s success.

Every BAM business needs someone with the ability to see potential in others and give them an opportunity. Former Apple VP, Guy Kawasaki, says, “There is one thing a CEO must do, it’s hire a management team that is better than he is. If there is one thing a management team must do, it’s hire employees who are better than it is.” Kawasaki goes on to say this requires at least two things of owners and managers; humility and self-confidence.2

A key leader emerged. Marc-Andre Fleury was a decorated 3-time all-star goalie from the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he helped them to win three Stanley Cups. As an experienced and successful star player he proved to be the leader and a stable foundation for his new team. The “misfits” rallied around him in every game.

Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. "He's such a character guy. He's the first guy to say last night, 'I'm going to be better and I can be better,' but he's been outstanding. We're here because of him, and we know that. We've got a good team, we play a solid game, but Marc-Andre Fleury, he's the backbone of our hockey team.”

Military leader Bernard Montgomery spoke in these terms, “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence.” And in the words of Jesus, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” (MK10:43)

Well the Golden Knights did not win the Stanley Cup this year but their story is one of a lesson-filled year. As with the Knights, Kingdom businesses need to serve the community, work as a team, make wise decisions and recognize and promote leaders.

1. Nager, Marc; Nelsen, Clint; Nouyrigat, Frank. Startup Weekend – How to Take a Company from Concept to Creation. Hoboken, NJ. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

2. Kawasaki, Guy. The Art of the Start. New York, NY. Penguin Group, 2004.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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IBEC re-posts on the top Business As Mission website

Friday, June 08, 2018
dice with the word blog spelled out

I find it curious and interesting to know what others consider to be important. One of the ways I try to understand that curiosity is by considering requests for re-posting items which have originated on the IBEC Blog.

Business As Mission is probably the most read BAM website out there and within the last six months these IBEC blogs have been requested from the IBEC site and subsequently posted there. Perhaps they are worth reading if you missed them the first time. 

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Seven ways to insure your customer feels he is king (or she is queen)

Friday, June 01, 2018
teamwork written on chalkboard

I ran across the old German adage, “The customer is king” while preparing for a university class I teach on innovation and entrepreneurship. While it is true that understanding the customer is much more complex than a generation ago, and the metaphor may be a tired one, it is increasingly accurate today.

Professor Robert C. Wolcott of the Kellogg School at Northwestern University points out that the king customer paradox reminds us that the customer drives the economy with his more and more access to products and choices; while at the same time increasing the competition, and invading our privacy. Consumer-focused companies respond to our desires while “…pursuing deeper insights into our location, preferences, even needs we didn’t know we had.”1 Such is the paradox of king consumer today.

My wife expects an Amazon package the next day after ordering it at bedtime the evening before, but she doesn’t like it that they know where we live, predict her preferences on the site and drool with anticipation as to what she might order. Yes, customer service has changed greatly in recent times, but at the same time it has not changed at all. Customers still want to be cared for.

In the last two months I had to change flights and rental cars more than once due to illness and death in the family. A stark contrast surfaced on one occasion when I needed to change my flight schedule. The phone attendant at the airline was polite and answered immediately; she forgave the $200 change fee due to the death circumstances and she was very helpful in finding me a new flight.

In contrast, a major rental car agency did not respond to the phone in a timely manner, the line dropped two times and when there was a response, the agency gave a very curt reply and there was no possibility of waiving the change fee. And the cost of a new rental increased substantially.

Customer service is still just that – service - and owners and managers of business startups need to begin with principles which will be long lasting as they prosper and scale the business.

1. Provide consistent training on customer service and be sure that everyone in the company, from top to bottom, follows the same guidelines. Make expectations clear.

2. Meet with customers regularly in person or via survey to determine ways to improve. Do the same with employees, asking how they think customers can be better served.

3. Remind yourself and your staff that without customers you have no business. They pay your salary, which makes them king.

4. Use helpful comments with customers, such as “How can I help you?”, “I don’t know but I will find out.” (and actually do it), “I will keep you updated.” “I appreciate your business.”

5. Keep the customer front and center with friendly personal things like sending cards or notes on important occasions, keeping them in the loop on things important to them, always following up on a conversation. Explore ways to be more personal.

6. Listen to customer complaints and listen politely without excuses. Take responsibility and do what you can to resolve the problem quickly. Go the extra mile.

7. Give employees the right to solve problems – like one restaurant which allows the waiters to give a replacement plate if the customer is dissatisfied.2

1. Wolcott, Robert C. The King Customer Paradox: The More Empowered, The More We Lose ControlForbes Magazine, 11 Apr. 2017.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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