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March 9, 2009 / compassioninpolitics

The Case for Christian Business as Missions

The Case for Christian Social Entrepreneurship and Business as Missions

Dr Peter Heslam at Cambridge University at the Business as Missions Network points out:

First, entrepreneurship represents the best antidote to poverty. While the development community, focused primarily on aid, debt relief and the reform of global institutions, shows signs of accepting this, their interest is generally restricted to microcredit, fair trade, social enterprise, corporate philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Entrepreneurship has great potential, secondly, in peacebuilding….Pope Benedict XVI made it the focus of his 2009 New Year message, which happened to coincide with Israel’s retaliatory campaign against militants in Gaza. His vision reflects that of earlier generations in this region, whose hopes for peace were often tied to the vision of the coming messianic age, in which trade had a key role (Isaiah 60:5; Jeremiah 32), and to the value of productive labour (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). As Pope Paul VI put it: ‘the new name for peace is development’.

Third, entrepreneurship offers the best hope in economic downturns. While no state programmes are required to initiate entrepreneurship, governments that assist redundant but entrepreneurial workers to set up in business get good value for money – the average cost of a start-up is less than the average annual cost of keeping a student at university, a prisoner in jail or a family on welfare.

Peter’s case is quite compelling and is certainly consistent with the tentmaker metaphor of business as missions. The only minor criticism or addendum I would offer is I believe Peter is probably too hard on the CSR, fair trade, and micro enterprise practitioners. Certainly none are panaceas and all are part of a cohesive policies–all represent part of the puzzle. Choosing one model vs. the other models seems more a function of target market, available resources, and giftedness. We can all agree that not all problems are a nail and its important to bring the appropriate solution(s) to the problem–and each of the above has a proven track record in decreasing poverty and increasing ethics in business. (although the definition of ethics or focus on ethics may be different in each case)

Additional Business as Missions Resources

You can check out the full article about Christian entrepreneurship at Transforming Business. You can also check out the Transforming Business resources, which has an extensive bibliography with country specific information about China, India, and other regions.

Or feel free to check out my business as missions resources like the Business as missions checklist for business planning from the Christian business book Great Commission Companies.

Note: I edited the quote by adding the full names of the Bible books in the text for my readers


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