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Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship – Both/And

Friday, September 14, 2018
start-up business qualities

The word entrepreneurship is a scary term to some people who relegate it to a small percentage of the population who are reckless and risk lovers. Not so – it may be more common than one thinks. Even large companies often promote the principles of entrepreneurship, sometimes called intrapreneurship. It is important for them to engage their own employees in entrepreneurial and innovative thinking and action. Without it, they could be forced to go the way of Woolworths, Borders, Blockbuster, Pan Am, Toys ‘R’ Us and a host of other once profitable companies.

Intrapreneurship is a term popularized by Howard Haller, Gifford Pinchott III, and Steve Jobs. Today, several large companies actively promote intrapreneurship within their organization. Google and Intel are well known for allowing employees to spend 10%-20% of their time on innovative ideas of their own. More and more, big companies are aware of their need for innovation and intrapreneurship.

These well-known examples of intrapreneurial success inside of a mega company are representative of many more:
  • Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iCloud inside of Apple
  • Gmail, Google News, Google Maps, Driverless Cars, and many other innovations inside of Google
  • PlayStation inside of Sony
  • Post-It Notes inside of 3M
  • SkunkWorks fighter jet inside of Lockheed
  • Java programming language inside of Sun Microsystems
  • Digital Light Processing inside of Texas Instruments
How does this happen? Employees need to know that it is OK to toy around with new ideas; it is OK to make mistakes and that failure will not be punished. Companies need to hire people who have a wiring for innovation and entrepreneurship and can make decisions on their own.

Patrice Caine, CEO and Chairman of the 65,000 employee French Thales Company, is an example of a person who embraces innovation and entrepreneurship. He suggests that a large company like his and others have much to learn from entrepreneurs, and he states that “…there are two main ways in which large companies can benefit from start-ups’ driving force for innovation and transformation.”

“The first is being inspired and learning from their flexibility, their adaptability, from their trial-and-error culture. With their lean structures and ability to make decisions in a heartbeat, start-ups tend to be more and more responsive to passing opportunities compared to large companies with their demanding, but somewhat painstaking, approval procedures.

Rather than completely overhauling the way they work – a process that, in itself takes time – companies have the option of incubating internal start-ups, preferably with a degree of liberty towards the central hierarchical structure. These can work either on customer projects or on the digital transformation of the company itself, through specific programs or employee training courses for example. That is the spirit of the Thales Digital Factory, located in the WeWork office building in Paris.

Learning from start-ups’ flexibility also means picking-up on their beta -, or Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – culture. Instead of spending a lot of time developing a perfect product, the idea is to deliver a rough draft quickly, that can then be improved with the client and/or end users.

One example of this – even though Google can hardly qualify as a start-up – was Google maps: the first version was just a map, which gradually started incorporating information such as traffic, stores, restaurants, customer opinions, etc. This evolution is interesting because it is part of a global cultural change, with more and more appetite for testing, experimenting, but also for outside insight and collective intelligence.

Working with startups

The second way big companies can benefit from start-ups is by partnering: identifying the most promising start-ups in the field and finding new, interesting ways to work with them.

The ‘identifying’ part can be more challenging than it sounds, with over 300,000 start-ups created in the world every year. How do you find the ten, one hundred, one thousand start-ups that have something new to bring to your industry? It is really up to every company to find the hidden gems where they are in the world… and then to enter into creative partnerships with them.

That is the idea behind Starburst, a start-up accelerator with a focus on aerospace and defense technologies. The success of these new types of partnerships shows how useful they are for all parties: the benefit is obvious for large companies – who can keep their pulse on the latest market evolutions – but also for start-ups, who can test their technologies, be mentored by professionals, and acquire new credibility in their field. 1 

IBEC of course works with start-ups, and Mr. Caine’s comments are a reminder to start-ups that they may find their success in partnering with others. What might it take to be “identified” by a larger company as a partner – to their benefit and yours?

Daniel Gunaseelan’s story was told on this site on June 25, 2016. While selling products in the oil and gas industry in western Kazakhstan, he gained valuable experience and made quality contacts for what later developed into the start-up Gateway Ventures. Daniel is a great example of Kingdom, missional living and entrepreneurial focus within an established company. It is worth reading again.

1 Published for the annual event VivaTech. “Innovation: Big companies have so much to learn from Start-ups” by Patrice Caine, May 24, 2018 in Linkedln with the hashtags #VivaTech. #VivaThales

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Pabi – Employee of the Month at Purnaa company, Nepal

Friday, September 07, 2018
man fishing

IBEC has been a friend of Fair Flies since founder Jeff Coffey attended our seminars and got the vision for kingdom entrepreneurship. He was already a serial entrepreneur, but he saw how integrating faith and work was a wonderful way to bring new life in Jesus to those who have never heard. Check out this unique start-up, especially if you like fishing.

They recently awarded the Employee of the Month to Pabi, one of the workers in their Nepal factory, which seeks to empower those unemployed and underprivileged. 

Here are some segments from her interview. Purnaa is a World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) Guaranteed company.

Congratulations, you won the employee of the month award! How did you feel when you found out that you won?

I didn’t expect it, but I was very happy and very glad to hear my name.

We want to get to know you a little bit better. Can you tell us about your family?

I have one son and one daughter. My son is 7 and my daughter is 2. My son lives with his father, and my daughter lives with her aunt. I am currently staying at a shelter home.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Normally I like to just stay home and relax. When I am relaxing, I like to talk with the other ladies I live with and sometimes read the Bible. Whenever I get a chance though, I try to go and visit my children.

What is something fun or interesting you have done recently?

Very recently, we had a birthday party for Indira. She is the woman who runs the shelter home where I am staying. There were games, snacks, and dancing. I love to dance. I really enjoyed that party.

When have you been the most satisfied in your life?

The day when I gave birth to my baby boy was the most satisfying day of my life. I was married for 5 years before I got pregnant. That was a difficult time for me and my family. But the day when I gave birth, I said I had been awarded some kind of star from God. It was the happiest moment of my life.

What is your job at Purnaa?

At Purnaa, I make fly-fishing brushes. I also like to encourage my friends, and whenever they make mistakes, I like to help them.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

Making the brushes is what I like. When I first started, I wondered how I would make enough to reach the target. But now, whatever brush they give me, even if it’s hard right away, slowly and steadily I will get there. I love learning and improving.

How long have you worked at Purnaa?

7 months.

What did you do before you worked at Purnaa?

This is my first job ever. I used to live in a village and do farm work.

What motivated you to come work at Purnaa?

I am very grateful to God that I met Shristi, my friend and colleague. She brought me to Purnaa for the interview. I’m also very happy to have become friends with Rebecca. She has helped to empower me. God has brought so many wonderful people into my life.

What keeps you coming to work?

I like the environment of Purnaa. I have many friends here, so if I stay at home I get bored, and I will not be able to earn money. It has been very helpful to have a community, to be able to socialize with my friends. I am now very hopeful for my future. I feel like I can earn enough, and I can save money. I know I will be empowered, and even if I don’t work here in future, I will be able to find a job somewhere else. I have hope.

How have you changed as a person since working here?

There has been a tremendous change in my life. If you had seen me before, you would also see it. The way I used to think about my life, the way I used to talk with people. I never used to have hope for my future. I always had a negative feeling about my life. But now, the way I think, the way I talk with people, the way I even wear my clothes, it’s all different. I have become so happy. There’s so much hope, and I am at peace. I don’t have to worry about anything now. I’m a new person.

If I were to ask your boss what your greatest strength is, what do you think they would tell me?

I feel like they would say I am a very honest person and am very dedicated to my work.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I just want to say that I really love Purnaa. I am very thankful to Purnaa. I love working here, and I hope that I will continue to grow in my life.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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In celebration of labor: the value of a good day's work

Friday, August 31, 2018
construction workers working

This is a reprint from The Christian Post of the article "In Celebration of Labor: The Value of a Good Day's Work.", by Chuck Colson.

This commentary first aired on September 1, 2003.

What does Labor Day mean? For most of us, it's nothing more than a welcome break from what we tend to see as "the daily grind." Work to so many people is simply a necessary evil. The goal in life is putting in enough time to retire and relax.

But that attitude and that goal is contrary to a Christian worldview perspective on work.

Christians have a special reason to celebrate Labor Day, which honors the fundamental dignity of workers, because we worship a God Who labored to make the world - and Who created human beings in His image to be His workers. When God made Adam and Eve, He gave them work to do: cultivating and caring for the earth.

In the ancient world, the Greeks and Romans looked upon manual work as a curse, something for lower classes and slaves. But Christianity changed all of that. Christians viewed work as a high calling - a calling to be co-workers with God in unfolding the rich potential of His creation.

This high view of work can be traced throughout the history of the Church. In the Middle Ages, the guild movement grew out of the Church. It set standards for good workmanship and encouraged members to take satisfaction in the results of their labor. The guilds became the forerunner of the modern labor movement.

Later, during the Reformation, Martin Luther preached that all work should be done to the glory of God. Whether ministering the Gospel or scrubbing floors, any honest work is pleasing to the Lord. Out of this conviction grew the Protestant work ethic.

Christians were also active on behalf of workers in the early days of the industrial revolution, when factories were "dark satanic mills," to borrow a phrase from Sir William Blake. In those days, work in factories and coal mines was hard and dangerous. Men, women, and children were practically slaves-sometimes even chained to machines.

Then John Wesley came preaching and teaching the Gospel throughout England. He came not to the upper classes, but to the laboring classes-to men whose faces were black with coal dust, women whose dresses were patched and faded.

John Wesley preached to them-and in the process, he pricked the conscience of the whole nation.

Two of Wesley's disciples, William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury, were inspired to work for legislation that would clean up abuses in the workplace. At their urging, the British parliament passed child-labor laws, safety laws, and minimum-wage laws.

But here in America we've lost the Christian connection with the labor movement. In many countries, however, from Canada to Poland, that tradition still remains strong.

Much of our culture has a distinctly Greek view of work: We work out of necessity. But, you see, we are made in the image of God and as such we are made to work-to create, to shape, to bring order out of disorder.

So this Labor Day, remember that all labor derives its true dignity as a reflection of the Creator. And that whatever we do, in word or deed, we should do all to the glory of God.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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History of IBEC failures

Friday, August 24, 2018
sign with disappointment road written on it

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ (George Santayana-1905). In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill changed the quote slightly when he said (paraphrased), ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’

I was recently cleaning up some physical files, when I ran across a spreadsheet from 2008/09 listing IBEC projects which provided data on the status of the start-up, metrics for success and other interesting information. I found it curious that many of these businesses we worked with in the first two years of our existence have “failed”.

It reminded me of a conference in Arizona a few years ago, when after I had cited many success stories, a person in the audience asked me, “don’t you guys have any failures?”

Now I would be the first to recognize that “failures” are not really failures, but more accurately experiments in learning. In the famous words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And so it may be with those early years in IBEC.

There is no perfect assessment of a cause-effect relationship, and I acknowledge that my perspective is personal and anecdotal, however I believe those closest to these situations would concur that what I relate here is at least at least one primary reason for the demise. Here is an effort to “remember the past” with a view to giving reasons for the demise of each dream and a statement of what we learned. I will not provide specific identification of the geographical area nor the persons involved out of respect for security issues and the fact that I do not want to disparage the efforts of anyone.

Agricultural project in the Balkans: There was an excellent team led by a well-respected and experienced couple in place and even some business expertise on the team. Several hectares of land were leased, and research seemed to indicate that tomatoes would be in demand in the capital a 2-hour drive away. In the second season of operation, there was a bumper crop and there was optimism from the several tons of produce. What happened? Because of a glut in the market, the contract became worthless due to cultural factors that were not considered. Various supermarkets had “guaranteed” to take the product, but when the glut occurred and the prices dropped, the written contract was ignored leaving the expat team with rotting tomatoes. The good news is that they re-grouped a couple of years later when they discovered that raspberries had more potential. They are still in business. We learned the importance of understanding the nuances of culture.

Consulting company in a former Soviet Republic: Jeff was a successful business man in the USA and entered this Asian country in partnership with a like-minded national attorney. Their business model was to provide real estate and cultural expertise for foreigners doing business in the country. What happened? It looked like a great match, but the local, who had access to the bank accounts, ran off with all the money and the clients. Jeff was left with little recourse in a foreign land. However, Jeff was a true entrepreneur and he went down the street in the same city and started over. That company did well and he sold it eventually for a good profit. We learned the importance of risk assessment and contingency planning, especially in countries without a Judeo-Christian ethics.

Engineering Company in the Middle East: A western European company was doing business in an Arab country known for Islamic radicalism. Government contracts allowed for visas for the expat workers. IBEC’s consulting was focused on helping families live in this desert country, and how to integrate faith into the workplace in a Muslim context. What happened? Radical elements shot and killed one of the employees and it became very difficult for all foreigners living in the city. Soon several families who loved the people and had learned the language moved to a calmer place in the middle east. We learned that some places are of such high risk because there is no “rule of law”, and normal contingency planning is all but impossible.

North Africa Outdoor Activity Company: This company was well coached and well prepared to provide tours for Europeans interested in the outback of the country. There was a good team in place and the leader was well trained and experienced. In the 2nd year they were experiencing excellent profit margins on tours. What happened? Two things precipitated the temporary closing of the business. One of the key product developers decided to give up and leave the country, leaving the leader without a key assistant, and secondly, they discovered the reason why they were unable to scale the business. They could not be overcome some distance factors and poor infrastructure. They sold the business to a business person from the UK and the company has started up again with some major changes. We learned that one cannot be too careful in the testing stage and have pivots in mind from the start.

Sheep farm in Senegal: A native of Togo had moved to Senegal for missionary work among a people group there. He spoke several languages and was loved by the people. He contacted us to help with a feasibility study while they purchased some land and bought some sheep. There was an evident market for mutton in this Islamic country. What happened? After several attempts to find someone to lead the business as a full-time job, the operation was closed. We learned that without the right person, the operation will fail. There must be a leading person with the vision, expertise and time to grow the business.

Photography business in East Asia: The leader of this business was experienced in the area, spoke three languages, and had a product that seemed marketable. The photography business was aimed at tourists and resident expats who wanted quality photo shots of their work and of the country. The photography was of high quality and great efforts were made to market the idea. What happened? Despite the efforts of the couple and consultants, the business never really produced significant revenue and became more of a hobby than anything else. We learned that without a customer, there is no business. There should have been more research, which would have demonstrated an insignificant number of customers willing to pay market prices for the product.

Water retention and distribution company in Indonesia: The owner had a science background and the family loved the country and were well liked by the community. They had significant success in raising money in the US for rain storage units which then piped clean water to the remote villagers. It was a much needed and appreciated social project. However, the day came when NGOs were being expelled from the country and the decision was made to make this a For Profit business. The IBEC consultants attempted to teach management, marketing, product development, capital acquisition, financial planning and other principles. What happened? The leaders found it difficult to learn and develop the necessary business skills, and they decided to leave the business and return to the USA. We learned that it is next to impossible to transition a Not-For-Profit to a For-Profit using the same people.

Coffee Farm in Haiti: Coffee had been a primary product in some of the hill areas of Haiti, and some farmers were contracted to grow it again and to provide beans to a small fair-trade producer. This was set up like a cooperative, and profits were to benefit the pastors and their ministry. What happened? Before long, the missionary left the country, and the business never really scaled into anything significant, though a few growers began to sell their product to the bigger buyers. We learned that motivation is a key component in business which is meant to create wealth and it does not work well to begin a business to support another time-consuming effort such as pastoring a church.

These and similar stories provide opportunities for learning. While to not reach a pre-determined goal can be fairly considered a failure; the opportunity to move on with the experience and all that is learned is of high value.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Engaging in business in the Balkans

Friday, August 17, 2018
firefighters in training

In Luke 19: 11-27 Jesus clarifies that the Kingdom of God is not going to appear at once (v. 11). Instead, the parable of a noble man going “into a far country to receive for himself a Kingdom and then return” (v. 12) makes it clear what we should be doing while we wait for the King to return.

Second, Jesus clarifies how His disciples (the servants in the parable) are to live as they wait. He gives ten servants one mina each (about three months wages) and commands them to “engage in business until I come.” The Greek word translated as “engage in business” is pragmateuomai, from which we get our word pragmatic. It was an ancient mercantile term meaning to trade or do business in order to make gain. So, the servants were to engage in gainful business activities as they awaited the return of their master.

When the King returns “having received His Kingdom” the servants are called to give account. Those who worked and invested wisely are given a proportional number of cities to govern in the Kingdom. The one who hid his mina and had nothing to show for it is rebuked, and his mina is given to the wise servants.

So what? All of us have been entrusted by God with a set of resources. We are to steward these resources wisely as we wait for the return of Christ. How? By proactively, intentionally, and purposefully “doing business.” The question then becomes what does your “business” look like? What resources has the King entrusted you to steward in this life?

By working as unto the Lord in an honest profession we are loving God, loving our neighbor, and making disciples by incarnating the Gospel and the values of God’s Kingdom. These values of truth, beauty, and justice are present in part now, but will be revealed in glorious splendor when the King returns. When He returns, what will He say about you and me and how we “engaged in business” while waiting for Him? This becomes a framing question for every aspect of our lives.

Since 2015, a company in Eastern Europe has been training local firefighters how to respond to emergency medical situations. Just last month, they welcomed four American first responders who returned to Europe to hold training for 17 firefighters, bringing the total of people trained to 78 firefighters. Each year gets better and harder at the same time.

This year, four local instructors led the training, since they were trained last year to become instructors. The company’s vision is to equip local firefighters, through written materials, training and mentoring to teach their fellow firefighters in Emergency Medical Response. This process of equipping is a long-term process and investment with a Kingdom perspective.

An important element of the training was the cooperation with government authorities, as they participated in the program with firefighters from eight cities joining in on the training. Conversations were rich in content related not only to emergency response issues, but also in value-laden topics. God is evident in every aspect of this business.

It has been a privilege for two IBEC consultants to provide services to one of the owners some years ago. And now we rejoice in what is happening in this European country.

Check out this IBEC video on a related topic from Luke 19: John Warton: Do Business Until I Come

  • Adapted from an article by CB in the Balkans.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Social Issues as a Business as Mission opportunity

Friday, August 10, 2018
humanitarian aid

"Every single social and global issue of our day is a business opportunity in disguise..." – Peter Drucker

While I was in business school, everyone drooled over the wisdom of Peter Drucker, and indeed his books are still read today. Let’s think about this quote from long ago.

Followers of Jesus are often counseled to look three ways when considering pathways of life: to look upward and consider what God considers important; to look inward and discover how they are wired with gifts, education, passion, aptitudes and experiences; and look outward at the world around them and pay attention to needs.

So probably there is a lot of wisdom in Drucker’s counsel. That is not to say that every business needs to be a social enterprise; but I think it is safe to say that when considering the scores of social issues on our globe, we may need to become more aware of hidden opportunities. Here are some that I have connected with or become aware of.

Refugees in North America: Many consider the world refugee situation as an important social and global issue. Certainly, job creation is an important part of the solution. A few years ago, I was assigned to mentor a young white male 20-something in a business start-up. He was starting a Somali restaurant in Minneapolis, in a state with 40,000 Somalian refugees. I immediately wondered, “what does this guy know about Somali cuisine and eating habits?”

It turned out that he knew next to nothing, but he was an entrepreneur with a business degree. His plan was to hire the right people who knew what he did not know and provide jobs for a wide range of skills in the refugee community. He saw a business opportunity to provide for a needed product (Somalian food) and create jobs for the Somalian refugees. As a result, he was successful.

Health and Disabilities: The CDC estimates that 53 million Americans (22%) suffer with some type of disability. Without creative innovation and entrepreneurship, these individuals could simply languish as wards of the state. That was not going to happen to John Cronin of Huntington, New York, who has Down’s Syndrome. After high school he said to his father, Mark, “Dad, I want to go into business with you.”

After thinking and trying a few things, they settled on a passion of John’s, crazy socks, and the company was born: John's Crazy Socks. They make money and they follow their dreams. The website states: “our Social Enterprise model is an alternative to models that only seek to make money. Make no mistake, we want to be profitable ($ two million in sales last year), but we have found that the more we do for others, the better our business will succeed…giving back is an essential part of what we do.

“We do not think a business can simply sell stuff, it is essential to give back. From the beginning, we have pledged 5 percent of our earnings to the Special Olympics. We have added a growing list of Charity and Awareness Socks that raise money for our charity partners. We also hold special events to generate funds for our charity partners.” John’s Crazy Socks has found a business opportunity connected to an important social concern.

Human Trafficking and Prostitution: Outland Denim is a company in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. It was started seven years ago by James Bartle, an Australian entrepreneur who saw an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of trafficked women through employment, while making a profit. He entered the fashion world of denim with a steep learning curve after traveling to Asia to see how the trafficking industry worked, and to envision how he could provide a sustainable career path to victimized women.

There is a strong commitment to preparing each of the 40 seamstress employees with all the skills of the factory. Each person learns every aspect – every machine and every detail on a pair of jeans – the denim, the thread, rivets, buttons, belt loops, zippers – all are meticulously and artfully produced and reviewed. The high-end product is no regular jean - with retail prices in North America starting at $195 per jean.

The women take pride in their work, and we noted when we visited this year - on the finished products, the leather patch had a simple statement under the Outland name, “This jean handcrafted by …… (name of person)”

We were impressed how the owner in Australia, and the managers in Cambodia, Caleb and Katie, relied on the importance of prayer, with many stories of how God directed them in creative entrepreneurial ways – building a business on a serious global social issue.

War and Human Conflict: The war in the Balkans in the 1990s created massive ruination throughout the country, as well as devastating unemployment. Around 100,000 people were killed during the war. Over 2.2 million people were displaced, making it the most devastating conflict in Europe since the end of World War II. In addition, an estimated 12,000–20,000 women were raped, most of them Bosniak.

The war in the Bosniak area, in what is now southeast Bosnia, left more than half of the employable men and women without work. It was to this area that John and Katie started a youth center and then a business to provide employment for several of the men and boys. Though the agricultural business experienced much turbulence, it is still functioning with a robust berry farm in that region. They too developed a business out of a global social issue – war and conflict.

World Hunger: Phillip and Brittany had international experience, business degrees, an entrepreneurial bent, and a passion for social causes. After experience elsewhere in the world, they decided upon western Kenya and the development of a fish farm. They wanted to meet a local need for jobs and for food, and to develop a prototype for a farm elsewhere in an even more needy area.

Today Big Fish Kenya is officially one of only two hatcheries in the westernmost region of Kenya. Construction of the first hatchery finished in June 2014, and they employ several folks from a very poor region of the country. A local fish expert provides leadership in product development.

Their dynamic and purpose: "Empowering communities through love, education, training, and resources that THEY may carry these principles forward throughout Africa and beyond.” They are the embodiment of another global social enterprise which was a “business opportunity in disguise.”

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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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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