What is Micro-BAM?
Videre’s strategy is to equip and finance Christian entrepreneurs to create and operate businesses that strive for triple bottom line (financial, spiritual, social) objectives.
Through a three-phase training program, we equip Christian entrepreneurs with a biblical view of business, assist them in writing a business plan, and coach them on how to market, manage and grow their businesses. For those who successfully complete the program, we make financing available to implement their business plan.
How did Videre arrive at this strategy? Videre began as a traditional micro-finance organization, seeking a sustainable financial platform for evangelism and discipleship in the developing world. The idea was that micro-finance would help the poor lift themselves out of poverty while allowing our partners and program managers to share the Gospel with the loan recipients. The problems we encountered were three-fold:
- We discovered that just because someone is repaying a loan, does not mean that they are doing so out of the proceeds of a successful business. We found that many entrepreneurs were repaying their loan even though their businesses were not operating. There are many reasons for this including poor choice of initial business idea, poor operational practices, and poor cash management. We felt that these problems could be addressed through training.
- We found that our expectations that program managers would be able to share the Gospel with the program participants was unrealistic. It is difficult to manage a book of loans while at the same time trying to build gospel-bridges with loan recipients. Sustainable micro-finance is “high volume, low touch”, while evangelism and discipleship is “low volume, high touch”.
- There is always a risk in mixing evangelism and money. This tends to create many false positives where people will tend to tell you what they think you want to hear. As we stepped back to look at these issues, we decided that a focus on training believers to leverage their God-given talents in business for the purpose of sharing Christ with their neighbors while providing for their own needs was likely to be more effective.
How is Videre’s micro-BAM strategy different from traditional micro-finance? While Christian micro-finance focuses on evangelism and discipleship through the micro-finance activities themselves, micro-BAM focuses on equipping believers to do the work of evangelism through their businesses while providing for their needs and the needs of others.
How is Videre’s micro-BAM strategy different from what others are calling BAM? While there are many different definitions of business as mission (BAM) there is general agreement that BAM is believers going cross-culturally to establish businesses with triple bottom line emphases. In Videre’s strategy, the cross-cultural element is in believers going cross-culturally to train indigenous believers who will run businesses and share the Gospel in their own particular contexts. It is a way for Western believers to make a productive contribution to world mission without making a long-term commitment to serve on the mission field and without years of cultural and language training.