Monday, November 24, 2008

Cherry Hills Community Church Business as Ministry Meeting

Last week, I was invited to attend the monthly business as ministry meeting at Cherry Hills Community Church by Harold Britton, the Rocky Mountain Church Connections Director for WorldVenture. This meeting of business people is held at Cherry Hills every third Wednesday of the month. Thomas Beck and Bruce Swanson of WorldVenture spoke on their organization’s new Transformational Ventures project. Swanson directs the project while Thomas Beck lends his business expertise as a Synergos/Vantage Alliance consultant and as a past founding partner in Blockbuster, Boston Chicken and Einstein Brothers Bagels.

Over the years, WorldVenture has been a traditional mission sending organization. Recently, they have been introducing a business as ministry initiative by employing the organization’s unique strengths in the area of connecting business people in the United States with business as ministry entrepreneurs overseas. The project identifies overseas business as ministry opportunities and then partners them with existing business as ministry organizations like Partners Worldwide and the Business Professional Network to review business plans and determine future activities. WorldVenture mobilizes domestic business leaders to mentor these businesses and provide technical assistance. The whole project is designed to increase the impact of Christian businesses in developing countries.

Tom Beck identified that one of the top problems for businesses in the developing world continues to be the lack of access to capital making business expansion difficult. This is a similar problem for faith venture start-ups in urban areas of the United States. Beck shared how they have been developing a revolving investment fund for business as ministry. Individual investors place money into a fund that provides financing to developing businesses. This fund achieves returns but the investors are choosing to leave profits in the fund to provide additional resources to other businesses. This type of investment instrument is something that I’ve hoped to develop in the future for domestic faith ventures. I believe it could be a very valuable tool to helping create opportunity for disadvantaged communities.

Another area of interest for me was the possibility of creating a domestic/ international business as ministry partnership. Swanson shared that he knows of a business as ministry opportunity in the Middle East that needs used auto parts from the United States. That seems like a natural partnership opportunity for a domestic auto yard hiring individuals rebuilding lives from felony convictions.

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