Why is Business As Mission (BAM) so important today within your community and in your culture?
BAM is a great fit in our context. We can’t enter our country on a religious visa so BAM provides us the means to enter and remain in our country. BAM has provided us a stronger visa as opposed to NGO work. For example, we have been able to secure 10 year visas, where NGOs must apply every year for a single year visa.
BAM also provides us a strong identity for the community. People understand most of our team as teachers, which is a highly valued occupation in our country. When they see us learning language and culture they know that those are necessary components of foreigners running a business. When we identify ourselves as Christians, they have no problem acknowledging that because they know we are here for legitimate reasons.
Why did you choose your business model and how has it impacted the community?
After spending time in context we came to the conclusion to run a community center for the following reasons:
- Prayer – We prayed and felt like this was the door God was opening.
- Felt Needs – In assessing the context we felt like English was something the community really wanted.
- Skills – We looked at what skills we had and found them to line up well.
- Strong Identity – How would we be seen by local people, would it make sense to them.
- Job Creation – Could we create jobs for locals.
- Real Work – Was the model going be something we were actually doing or were we going to fake it.
- Appropriate Time Investment – We wanted something that did not demand 8-10 hrs daily.
- Appropriate Financial Investment – We didn’t want to have to rob a bank to get this started, could we make it profitable within a couple years.
- Relationship Catalyst – Would this work help us meet lots of adults.
- Seed Sowing – Could we use the work as a catalyst for sharing truth.
We have a strong reputation. Within a couple of years, our center has become the standard for English in the city. We have gotten the chance to interact with hundreds of adults. We have created 3 jobs thus far and are hoping to add 2 more this year.
Tell us a story about someone who has been impacted by your business.
Phillip is our lone teacher right now. He is single and in his mid-thirties. He comes from a village just outside of the capital. He was the first employee we hired, which means has been with us for about 4 years.
Through his employment with us, he was able to go back and pass the Bacc Exam (An exam required to finish high school, only about 12% of locals have it.) He has used his steady employment to provide for his family. In the eyes of his community he has grown into a very respectable and honorable young man, which is vital in a culture which strongly values honor.