Tag Archive for: asia

BAM in Singapore

Missional Business From Singapore: A Singapore Journey

Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-cultural city state with a population of 5.3 million. Due to its size, the Singapore economy is heavily dependent on the global export market for its continual growth. Singapore entrepreneurs and business professionals often look beyond the shores of Singapore for growth markets and for new opportunities. Thus Singapore businesspeople are accustomed to an externally focused business environment, in an export-oriented economy. Many foreign companies are attracted to Singapore, a result of attractive incentives offered by the government and the availability of managerial talent in Singapore.

In terms of the history of missional business—or business as mission—in Singapore, there were some early forays into business by individuals, as well as by churches, some of which date back some 20 years. Some of these early attempts at business were started primarily as platform to gain access to or to remain in the field for those sent as missionaries. Many of these early enterprises faced setbacks of various kinds and some were subsequently closed down when the business was not viable or did not fit the context of the country, or the business owners found it too demanding. Some of these early attempts at business survived and persisted after having gone through several business cycles, with their most recent iteration better informed by the growing literature on business as mission.

Business as mission (BAM), though not entirely new to the church in Singapore, is not widely adopted as part of the church’s missional strategy. Many of the churches seem more attuned to involvement in social enterprises than with BAM enterprises, since BAM tends to be considered more commercial in nature. This in part is due to the notion that profits in a commercial business is synonymous with profiteering and that the lower profit motivation of social enterprises is congruous with the purpose of the church, and thus is more appealing to the Christian mindset and ministry.

The dichotomous view between the sacred and secular, ministry and business is one of the challenges that besets the development of BAM as a mission strategy. Another challenge is the discomfort of having profit as a intrinsic part of a missional business. A third challenge is the differing notion about what is a holistic ministry. Alongside a sound theology of missions, there is a need to review the theology of work as well the theology of business as part of a wider effort to seek the adoption of business as mission as a mission strategy.

Some in Christian circles have considered Singapore as an “Antioch of the East”, drawing parallels between these two important centres of commerce that bridged the East and the West. This is also an expression of aspiration for Singapore to become an important sending centre for global missions. Singapore has also been seeking to position itself as an important hub in numerous aspects of commerce and trade as part of an ongoing effort to charts its course for continual economic growth and prosperity. Perhaps through business as mission, Singapore could truly fulfill the expectations of so many who have gone before, and claim the recognition of being the Antioch of the East. In order for this to become true, the Singapore church must be prepared to incorporate missional business as part of its overall missions strategy to reach the world for Christ.

BMTT-RG Singapore cover


BAM in Mongolia

Business as Mission in Mongolia

Mongolia is seen as the “Final Frontier” for many people. It stirs up images of the horse herds that still run free across her open steppes. From the harsh arid climate of the Gobi Desert in the south, to the pristine lakes in the frozen north that border Russia’s Siberia, the climate has forged a hardy, resilient people who work hard, play hard, and practice a survivalist hospitality.

Into this climate, Mongolia in 1990 opened her borders to doing business and trade with the rest of the world. Freedom of religion was written into her new constitution. A free market economy emerged. People were asking for the tools to cope with a new and growing economy. From 2000 to 2012, Mongolia’s resource-rich countryside has fueled what is now reported to be one of the fastest growing economies of Asia.

Into this setting business as mission (BAM) entrepreneurs are finding opportunities to work with Mongolians to help them build their country on the solid foundations of faith and the hope that does not disappoint. BAM workers seek to close the gap between rich and poor; to disciple Mongolia’s young population with values which will encourage them not to buy into the despotism of capitalism, but that will build a sustainable future.

Probably the biggest hurdle most BAM workers (BAMers) will face is the government’s US$100,000 entry requirement to start a foreign-run business in Mongolia. This requirement is to ensure that businesses which apply to be in Mongolia are legitimate businesses and have enough capital to start up and run in the first 2 years of operation. Though many mission workers may find this hurdle unrealistic and difficult, it has been noted by many business people that this probably is a basic minimum to realistically start a business in most countries.

Mongolia faces many similar concerns that other developing countries also face: corruption, frustrating legal red tape, unskilled workers, workers with a different worldview regarding ethics or finances, etc. However, most successful BAM entrepreneurs after sifting through the difficulties, have found themselves working beside hard-working Mongolians who are sincere about learning how to provide for their families, both physically and spiritually.

In this context, Mongolia presents itself as a BAM mission field that holds many opportunities. Mongolia is a country where BAM workers could have a significant influence to disciple Mongolians who are building their nation. They could help those who have caught the vision to share the Good News beyond Mongolia’s borders.

BMTT-RG Mongolia cover 300