IBEC Ventures -- Consultants for BAM/Business as Mission
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Seven forms of patient capital

Monday, September 29, 2014

Patient capital can be described as long-term capital where the investor does not expect a quick profit and results but forgoes the immediate return for a more substantial result such as social impact.  For financial investors patient capital sits between traditional venture capital and traditional philanthropy; between development and foreign direct investment.

Earlier this month four of us from IBEC joined about sixty others in Minneapolis for a three-day focus on Business as Mission (BAM).  Overseas entrepreneur Peter S led several sessions focusing on BAM topics including BAM best practices, getting started in BAM, capitalizing a BAM business, defining success, and BAM investing.  One item especially caught our attention: seven forms of patient capital! Here’s an overview:

Human Capital – the “boots on the ground” personnel making things happen.  This includes the entrepreneurial groundbreaker types as well as business builders who manage, direct and develop the business using the fundamentals of business inputs, processes and outputs.  It takes a team of people committed to the business and its financial rewards and social outcomes to achieve organizational success. As critical as the entrepreneur/creators are to a BAM businesses, the BAM community may need ten builders with professional and managerial skills for every one creator/entrepreneur.

Intellectual Capitalmentoring, consulting, coaching is critical to success.  This is the capital that IBEC brings to the mix.  IBEC consultants bring consulting services from the initial idea and opportunity stage to launch stage and onward to the growth of the company.  This coaching service includes multi-disciplinary analysis and research, stimulus toward on-going learning, commercial and spiritual mentoring and a multi-dimensional value-add.  You can learn more about IBEC’s services, processes and people on our website: www.ibecventures.com.

Natural Capital – related to the natural environment and ecosystem.  Every analysis of the business opportunity requires an understanding and utilization of natural resources, raw materials and sourcing systems for this capital.  Business stewardship of God’s creation (sometimes referred to the 4th item of the “Quadruple Bottom Line”) is an important and necessary capital component.

Infrastructure Capital – the system of man-made structures for communication, transportation, social services and energy.  Every business must take into consideration how energy is acquired, how workers are educated and trained, how the product is brought to market and how to communicate with customers, vendors, employees, authorities and others in the supply chain and market chain.

Social Capital – what the World Bank calls, “…institutions, relationships and norms that shape the quality and quantity of society’s social interaction.”  Social capital is the glue that holds an institution together, its culture.  The leaders of every BAM business must understand the language, beliefs, customs, worldview and behaviors of the culture – as represented in their unique educational, governmental, familial, religious, and ethnic distinctives.  While a foreigner will never be totally ‘native’ – and in many ways may forge a “Third Culture” – social capital understanding is fundamental to success.

Spiritual Capital – the faith, trust and commitment that people will do what is right in the eyes of God.  It is “…showing integrity, being accountable and honest, offering hope, being loyal and trustworthy, loving and encouraging others, exhibiting good stewardship, being fair, creating order and serving others…” (Eldred in God is at Work, 2005, p. 98).  When this is institutionalized in a business, it leads to a morally based DNA, which leads to life transformation and Jesus followers, which leads to kingdom living.

Financial Capital – according to Peter S, financial capital is to business what blood is to the body. We don’t think about blood too much, but it is vital to life. Sources of financial capital come to businesses differently at different stages and face unique challenges at each stage, but for startups the capital usually originates with an individual’s savings and personal collateral plus “love capital” (family, friends and fools).

These seven forms of capital are all vital and require research and understanding.  It is difficult to isolate any one of them as more important than another, but common wisdom would likely concur that human capital and financial capital are two the biggest challenges.  Getting the right people in place and the financial foundation at the beginning is much harder and more important than most would admit.

Investors who want to realize social change, transformed lives and long term success must opt for patient capital and make an investment aligned with the values of such a timeline.  In time patient capital in its long-term application has the greatest potential to make followers of Jesus, bring social uplift and change to communities which start to build the kingdom of God.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

Where are we going?

Monday, September 22, 2014

IBEC Leadership Team: Larry Sharp, James Mayer, Gwen Rapp, Gary Willett and Robert Bush

It is a good thing for every person and every organization to periodically step back, assess who they are, what they have accomplished in the past, and where they are going in the future.  The Leadership Team of IBEC Ventures, led by Robert Bush, did that this past week at a beautiful setting in Colorado’s mountains – thanks to Board member, Dave Kier’s provision of his mountain chalet at 9150 feet above sea level; all with a lovely view of Pike’s Peak.

During our 4-day retreat we evaluated many things. Here are some of our conclusions:

IBEC’s Purpose

IBEC helps build sustainable businesses through consultative expertise that changes lives and transforms communities.

IBEC’s Vision

We envision an increasing number of Small-Medium sustainable Kingdom businesses with our special emphasis on areas that are both economically impoverished and spiritually unreached.

IBEC’s Initiatives for 2014-15

We concluded with five specific strategic initiatives for the coming year.  Included are:

  • Developing consultants through training partnerships such as Prepare to Engage and specific web-portal mechanisms for our more than 30 training courses.  Check out our website for examples of our training courses, soon to be available online.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

What are some examples of Triple Bottom Line Kingdom businesses?

Monday, September 15, 2014

The last three blogs have highlighted the Triple Bottom Line of a BAM (Business as Mission) business. 

  • The goal is to be profitable and sustainable
  • The business creates jobs and other community value
  • Spiritual capital is created –  Kingdom values and a pathway to following Jesus

I find it helpful to have practical models which help envision concepts like the Triple Bottom Line.

This week I received an email from a member of the leadership team of an offshore design company in Asia.  IBEC had helped them in the early years and now four years later Susy writes that it has been hard to take a wage from the business but all other expenses are being paid from the business including hired employees and rented space in a modern office building.  They continue pursuit of full profitability.

Secondly, the business has five employees – that is five families with a job and income, children with food and clothing and an option for a better future.  A few days ago Chuck Colson wrote this entry in his BreakPoint blog, In Celebration of Labor: The Value of a Good Day's Work. It provides a God-honoring view of work.

Thirdly, employees are seeing what Kingdom values look like in the workplace. Susy writes this week:

“Sometimes I think that my godliest moments are when I am doing what we call ‘spiritual work’: studying through Romans with my friend A, praying for a friend, or planning a purposeful event. But when an employee performs poorly and I have to stay late to re-do her work, am I patient? When an important client complains, do I trust the Father or worry and trust my own abilities? These situations are everyday crucibles, in which the quality of our inner man is tested”.  

A friend recently asked Susy a faith question and she shared a book by C.S. Lewis with her - Mere Christianity. She is reading it and the friend texted and said she had read up to page 59 and has lots of questions.

Another better known example of a kingdom company which has achieved long term profitability, more than 100 jobs, and a clear pathway to following Jesus can be seen in this clip, Barrington Gifts - Why we do what we do! on the IBEC website. "Your work can be ministry. Work is worship." This is the Triple Bottom Line in action.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

A BAM business seeks to make followers of Jesus

Monday, September 08, 2014
The last two blogs referred to two of the three bottom lines of Business as Mission (BAM): profitability and sustainability; and secondly, the creation of value, particularly job creation.  The third bottom line is the development of spiritual capital – making followers of Jesus.

The concept of the Triple Bottom Line has been around since 1994 when John Elkington coined the term to mean economic, social and environmental measurability.  He suggested that every business must measure profits but also the impact on people and the planet.1   The BAM Triple Bottom Line has made an adaptation with the insertion of the spiritual component. However, some BAM authors suggest a quadruple bottom line to include the fourth idea of stewardship of creation – a commitment to caring for the environment and all elements of God’s creation. 

Most writers and practitioners in Kingdom businesses suggest that the spiritual (or mission) bottom line is the raison d’etre for any activity and certainly a BAM company.  This bottom line requires that there be an intentional living of Kingdom values in every element of the company, and a continual striving to honor God in every aspect of corporate life.  A Kingdom company is specific, conscious, clear and intentional in establishing Jesus’ kingdom in the world.

Ken Eldred describes this as spiritual capital which includes a corporate culture of integrity, accountability, honesty, hope, loyalty, trust, serving others, fairness, and love.  They do what is right from God’s perspective.  Incarnational living is observed every day in a Kingdom business and becomes the basis for proclamation of faith.  BAM businesses have a vision, mission and strategy evidenced in their policies, procedures and culture that encourages godly values.3

The end of such integration of faith and work, a truly biblical concept, creates an optimum climate for people to decide to follow Jesus.  The business provides the context for discipleship. One such Asian business that benefited from IBEC consultants is noted by Dale Losch:

“For Andrew, the answer laid in living out the gospel every day by being fair with employees, paying his taxes, paying a fair wage, placing verses from the book of Proverbs on the office door and starting the day in prayer for everyone (all employees were non-Jesus followers).  It involved building relationships, caring for families, and even weekend camping trips with employees.  It meant talking about the real issues of life and showing them who Jesus is and how a follower of His really lives.  Some call it discipling people into the kingdom…”4

Reconciling and integrating all the bottom lines is a key issue for a BAM business.  It is not an easy task and involves more than just a business plan. It necessitates an integrated plan which brings together all three bottom lines:

  • What is good for the profit
  • What is good for all stakeholders including employees
  • And what is good for God’s kingdom. 
Deliberate management choices must be made so as to facilitate such integration. Numerous models exist in North America in companies owned and operated by Jesus’ followers committed to the Triple Bottom Line.  Such models should be studied because they can be emulated and used as transferable models to other cultures.  Helpful materials for further learning can be found in books by Buck Jacobs (C-12 group), Ken Eldred, Neal Johnson, and Ken Humphreys and on YouTube sites of Kingdom businesses in North America and abroad.  Contact IBEC for more information.

In summary, the Triple Bottom Line includes profit because that is what sustains an authentic business; it includes job creation because we see that as fulfilling the Great Commandment to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31), and it includes the building of Jesus’ kingdom and in so doing we obey the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-19).

1 The Economist, Nov 17, 2009

2 Mike Baer, Business as Mission, 2006

3 John Mulford and Mike Baer, “Kingdom Entrepreneurs Transforming Nations,” 2008

4 Dale Losch, A Better Way, 2012

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

A BAM business creates jobs

Monday, September 01, 2014

Last week we began a three-part series on the Triple Bottom Line of Business as Mission (BAM).1 The first bottom line was that every business has a goal of profitability and sustainability.  The second bottom line is the creation of value, particularly job creation.

Mike Baer, in referencing the Kingdom of God, understands that the book of Matthew speaks about the Kingdom of God being “not yet,” but it also speaks of it being “here and now.”  In short, Kingdom living is about living out the principles of Jesus in every sector of life, including the workplace.  It demonstrates the integration of our faith with our work.  We bring the Kingdom of God “…on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10) via business transactions because business creates value and we have the opportunity to create holistic value based on the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control  etc.  A business owner in Asia, Pete, says it succinctly, “Everyday on the factory floor is an opportunity for discipleship.”

One of the key values created by business is jobs.  When we think of Jesus being very aware of the social condition of his day and doing something about physical realities such as hunger, danger, illness, and death, we can easily transpose his practical concerns to the concerns of today.

The Gallup Corporation recently surveyed over 150 nations in their renowned World Poll of major issues of life.  They wanted to “…discover the single most dominant thought on most people’s minds….”  Says CEO Jim Clifton, “Six years into our global data collection effort, we may have already found the single most searing, clarifying, helpful, world-altering fact.  What the whole world wants is a good job.”2

Consider the world conditions of today – extreme poverty (30% of the world living on less than $2 a day), unemployment in some countries over 50%, victimization and exploitation, disease (such as the Ebola crisis in West Africa), wars on several fronts and persecution.  Job creation will not heal all of this but growing economies creating good jobs brings dignity, opportunity for positive relationships and the ultimate transformation of individuals and communities.  God created humans to work and be productive (Gen 1:28), to work heartily ’as for the Lord and not men’ (Col 3:23) and “…shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father…” (Matt 5:16). This all takes place in the marketplace of work.

IBEC consultants, coaches and subject matter experts have valued experience at work because they know it is their “high and holy calling.”  Their success in the marketplace uniquely qualifies them to coach and train entrepreneurial business startups in hard places in the world.  One of the bottom lines for them is job creation.


Note a few affirmations from the 2004 “Business as Mission Issue Group”, chaired by Mats Tunehag:

  • We believe in following in the footsteps of Jesus, who constantly and consistently met the needs of the people He encountered, thus demonstrating the love of God and the rule of His kingdom.
  • We believe the Holy Spirit empowers all members of the Body of Christ to serve, to meet the real spiritual and physical needs of others, demonstrating the kingdom of God.
  • We believe that God has called and equipped business people to make a Kingdom difference in and through their businesses.
  • We believe the Gospel has the power to transform individuals, communities and societies.  Christians in business should therefore be a part of this holistic transformation through business.
  • We recognize both the dire need for and the importance of business development.  However it is more than just business per se. Business as Mission is about business with a Kingdom of God perspective, purpose and impact.
  • We recognize that there is a need for job creation and for multiplication of businesses all over the world.
  • The real bottom line of Business as Mission is – “for the greater glory of God.”

The gospel that does not deal with the issues of the day is no gospel at all.  Martin Luther

1 Sometimes we use the term Kingdom Business which Mike Baer defines as “…a business that is specifically, consciously, clearly and intentionally connected with the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in this world.  In other words, it is directly involved in making disciples of all nations. Michael Baer, Business as Mission, p.14

2 Jim Clifton, The Coming Jobs War, p.10

Larry W. Sharp, Directory of Training - IBEC Ventures

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IBEC Ventures -- Consultants for BAM/Business as Mission