No Water, No Fish: Funding is Vital to BAM Success and Sustainability
The convening of the Business as Mission Global Think Tank and Congress marked the first time the issue of funding for business as mission (BAM) companies emerged as a focus issue on a broad-based, international level. The necessity of capital for any endeavor highlights funding as an essential component of the BAM discussion.
The objective of this report is to provide assistance to the global BAM movement by educating and motivating BAM practitioners and funders so that responsible, appropriately contextualized, innovative, and successful allocation of financial resources may be more widely achieved. The vision is for capital to flow more efficiently to BAM companies, allowing them to be more effective in transforming their spheres of influence for the greater glory of God.
Perhaps best described as being in an infancy stage, funding for BAM is quickly moving toward adolescence. It should come as no surprise that the needs, challenges and opportunities for BAM parallel those for secular global businesses. Emerging BAM funding is showing early signs of matching important, prudent, and generally accepted elements of the broad spectrum of funding types available in global financial markets.
Some critical needs were identified for business as mission funding. One area of funding need is the availability of capital to fund start-ups. Greater creativity is vital to meeting this challenge. Another area of need is for more investment-worthy companies. The continued development of excellence in business approaches and seasoned operators will increase the potential for profitability and enhance attractiveness to potential investors. Alongside this, the nonnegotiable principles of integrity in identity and practice, integration of work and ministry, and intentionality of Kingdom purpose are crucial to successfully move enterprises from start-up to sustainability.
The report observes that hybridization, as a possible way to fund a business through a strategic mixture of capital, has both positive and negative ramifications. It addresses the variables of commercial and non-commercial funding for the business and/or compensation for the practitioner from a combination of both business and donor funding.
The research presented also notes there exists a certain tension between appropriate contextualization of funding models and the need for some measure of ‘best practice’ principles which are more widely understood, embraced and implemented in the business world. This paper argues there is no ‘one size fits all’ funding template that can or should be applied to the complexities of the global BAM movement.
The key recommendations of this report include: Firstly, a need for better communication between investors, as well as between investors and BAM practitioners. Secondly, over the next few years, there is an opportunity and need to identify and replicate successful funding models. Thirdly, the way to nurture this paradigm shift in investing is to initiate dialogue around the theology of wealth and investing. Developing an archetype rooted in Scripture that integrates missional competence with commercial proficiency is essential to the shaping of expectations, motivation and furthering of the BAM movement.