Mission Agencies: Challenges and Opportunities for Business as Mission

Mission agencies are discovering the unique opportunities and challenges of doing business as part of mission strategy. Some agencies have done business as mission (BAM) from their inception, others have come to it lately or after a lengthy consideration of business as part of their mission. Several agency leaders who were working on the complex issues of for-profit business inside or alongside a non-profit agency began to talk together at the beginning of the BAM Global Think Tank process. We agreed to meet at the April 2013 BAM Congress in Chiang Mai, Thailand to continue the conversation face to face. After the Congress there was an ongoing dialogue utilizing electronic media. This Special Report is written as a summary of those conversations.BMTT-IG BAM Mission Agency cover 300

While the individuals and agencies involved have wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, we have had participation of around 30 individuals from 22 agencies at various times. We are clear that each agency will have their own solution to the issues of doing BAM, this report simply outlines our discussion to identify some of the key issues that commonly arise.

This report identifies issues in three main areas:

1. Worldview

The attitude of the agency towards business, and the tensions caused by differences between business and mission culture and between old and new ways of approaching mission.

2. People

The challenge of recruiting and mobilizing people with the right skill-sets, creating robust teams, followed by providing the appropriate kinds of support and accountability to those people.

3. Financial and legal

The complexities surrounding ownership, funding and financial transfers, as well as the legal complexities created by agencies and businesses often operating across national borders.

This report is written for agency leaders who are grappling with BAM issues within their existing structures and processes. While we have no perfect solutions, we have outlined the major issues that should be addressed by agencies doing BAM as part of their mission strategy. It would also benefit BAM practitioners who are working within agencies to dialogue with their agency leaders on these issues.

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