Entrepreneurs wanted: what it looks like to become a kingdom-minded entrepreneur overseas

A new book by Jeannie Marie entitled, “Across the Street and Around the World: Following Jesus to the Nations in Your Neighborhood…and Beyond “ will be of interest to many of our readers. She has written a blog specifically for IBEC Ventures which helps the reader understand the need for entrepreneurs and business owners and how that could work.

We may be surprised that God wants to use all of our education, experience, and creative business background to start kingdom business that bless families in the farthest ends of the earth. But sometimes it’s hard to see what that actually looks like, what kinds of start-ups work well in the developing world, and what success means.

How One Entrepreneur Moved Overseas

Here’s how it looked for Doug, a banker from Canada turned entrepreneur in the unreached world. The government of a country, like Indonesia, can grant business visas to legitimate businesspeople from a foreign country, like Canada. Pursuing God’s heart for the nations, Doug began to pray for the Sunda people group in Indonesia. Doug connected with an organization with experience in living abroad and sharing their lives with others – in preparation for starting his company and living in the country. As he prepared to live overseas, he started his own financial consulting company in Canada and incorporated as a business.

On a short-term survey trip to the island of Java, he met with a family from his agency living there, and they invited him to join them for a longer time. A believing Indonesian businessman he connected with agreed to write a letter of invitation for Doug to start a business in Indonesia, assuring the Indonesian consulate that he would take responsibility for this foreigner.

Doug also wrote a letter to the Indonesian consulate, asking for permission to open a branch of his Canadian business in Indonesia. He filled out an application for a business visa, included the inviting letter and the sending letter, and mailed them to the consulate. A month later, he received his passport, stamped with a business visa that allowed him to be in the country for a set length of time.

He raised financial support from family, friends, and businesses— including business start-up costs. Doug’s vision was to live like Jesus in the marketplace and on the job and seek to help others to follow Jesus. Right away, Doug joined an intensive, full-time language program while researching options on the kind of businesses that could bless Sunda families.

What Kinds of Businesses Work Well Overseas? 

Service-based businesses, such as language centers, tourism agencies, or education centers, work well in foreign countries. A business could distribute a product made in the country or provide training in a needed job skill. Service-based businesses, (run by field workers trying to bless communities with the gospel), strive to be profitable enough to pay for operating expenses and salaries for local employees.

Other field workers try to start manufacturing companies, although it takes expertise and more financial capital to make them profitable. Oliver runs a profitable company that designs and manufactures products used in disaster situations. His company builds the product in-country using local resources and labor, but several field workers with degrees in engineering also work for the company. They sell to local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), so the product comes from the local population (and not a foreign entity) during relief situations, such as recovery efforts following flooding, typhoons, or earthquakes.

Having done business in the city for years, Oliver has built an honorable reputation for operating his company with integrity. He sells high-quality products at fair prices with exemplary customer service. His business also creates jobs and provides employees with enough income to support dozens of families. The city leaders recognize him as a man who contributes to their community, worships the one true God, and follows the ways of Jesus. They know he operates his business on biblical principles, never offering bribes, which are customary in the culture. His friends and employees come to him for prayer, conflict management, and advice, and he shares about Jesus in practical ways relevant to their everyday lives.

A New Definition of Entrepreneurial Success?

William is a former business consultant for Fortune 500 companies in America. Today, he helps field workers start businesses compatible with disciple-making movement strategies. “Businesses that lead to movements should have low operating costs, be service-based, and create access to many people in order to find people of peace,” William advises. “They should bless whole families and communities, and also allow time for the owner to engage in relationships.”

William coaches field workers to apply the traditional advice for doing solid business overseas: start a business that makes sense to the local population, plan to be profitable, and make your identity credible and valid in order to gain honor in the city. William also encourages business owners to be spiritually conspicuous from the beginning, making it known that they are followers of God and will run their businesses in ways that are pleasing and honorable to him.

Be encouraged that you can succeed in business and spiritual goals if you show humility in whatever you do and wherever you go, an eagerness to learn from others, and a strong work ethic.

This article was adapted from the newly released book “Across the Street and Around the World: Following Jesus to the Nations in Your Neighborhood…and Beyond” by Jeannie Marie. She is a strategist for an international agency that recruits, trains, and sends people to live overseas.

In her new book, “Across the Street and Around the World: Following Jesus to the Nations in Your Neighborhood…and Beyond, Jeannie inspires ordinary people to cross cultures with courage, confidence, compassion, and spiritual intentionality. Using personal stories and plenty of inspiration, she gently guides us away from common missteps, while offering practical tips, resources, and spiritual lessons for engaging in cross-cultural relationships with love and purpose.

[Our humble thanks to Nelson Books for their partnership in today’s article].


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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