The Shark Tank of Social Entrepreneurship
ON at Asbury Seminary
Cindy Dean, administrative assistant, Office of Faith, Work, and Economics
Jay Moon, associate professor of church planting and evangelism
Over 140 students, pastors, and business leaders convened this October to discover how they could impact the world through business. At an event called The Asbury Project, 10 students (selected from more than 30 applicants) presented business proposals to compete for $10,000 worth of prize money to launch mission-minded, for-profit businesses. The award money was distributed among five proposed businesses that address social issues including decreased farming revenue in Kentucky, poverty on Native American reservations, and joblessness in Africa. The winning businesses are intended to serve as examples of how social entrepreneurship can lift people out of poverty and restore dignity to people caught in the cycle of poverty.
One of the winners illustrated the spirit of the competition in this comment: “A purchase affirms the dignity of a woman in a village. That’s the power of the marketplace.” Several expert practitioners addressed the audience before the competition got underway. Tetsunao Yamamori, president emeritus of Food for the Hungry International and author of “On Kingdom Business,” shared the perspective that business can, and should, be ministry for Christians. “The people of God are all ministers,” he said. “We must be willing to fulfill the will of God where we are, regardless of vocation… Committed business people with a heart for mission are the church’s secret weapon.”
Pete Ochs, founder of impact investment enterprise Capital III, challenged the audience to use business as a means to create spiritual and social capital as well as profit. He described how his own business, located inside of a prison, prepares people for jobs once they are released, greatly reducing the recidivism rate. Johnson Asare inspired the crowd by describing how profitable business helps him bless the community and reach Muslims in Ghana. A significant outcome of this project will be the development of a booklet and accompanying DVD that discuss how and why Christians can engage in social entrepreneurship. Video footage from the event and interviews with practitioners will demonstrate the concepts discussed in the booklet.
The event, held by Asbury Seminary’s Office of Faith, Work and Economics (OFWE) in partnership with Asbury University’s Howard Dayton School of Business, was so well received that plans are already underway for next year. In the meantime, visit the Faith and Work Collective blog or contact OFWE Co-Directors Tapiwa Mucherera and Jay Moon or for more information.
Business as a Holy Calling
ON at Seattle Pacific University
Eli Ritchie, program assistant, Center for Biblical and Theological Education
Early on Thursday mornings, before the sun creeps over Queen Anne hill, you’ll find an interesting group of people meeting at Seattle Pacific University’s Kingswood House. Around the breakfast table sit a group of seminarians, local church leaders, and business leaders from several Seattle businesses.
This is Seattle Pacific Seminary’s Community of Practice, the first part of an ongoing Oikonomia Network initiative. After success with a pilot model of the Community of Practice last year, SPS is expanding our efforts. The group discusses “Business as a Holy Calling,” a curriculum created by Tim Dearborn. He reports that this group has already borne fruit. The integration of faith and business meets a pressing need: “Our first meetings have confirmed the importance of this project. Several business persons in our group indicated with lament that they’ve never received any guidance, insight, or support from their pastors about how to engage in business as a ministry.” Information gathered from this group will also form the basis for a research and assessment tool, developed by SPU faculty.
Part two in this initiative is placing four seminary interns in local churches leading their own “Business as a Holy Calling” groups. This multiplying model could have a significant impact on the Seattle community, and will further demonstrate SPU’s ongoing commitment to explore the intersections of faith, economics, and business, as well as lead others to do the same. Seminarian Katie Stats hopes the experience of this initial group indicates the potential for future impact: “Our Community of Practice had been a seedbed for discussion, reflection, and the stimulation of theological imaginations. My hope is that our discussions represent the first of many conversations to ask the question of what it looks like to serve God’s kingdom with our whole lives and whole selves.”