Why Business Connect is launching a Startup Incubation Service
Startup Connect provides practical opportunities for the Christian community to contribute to getting worthwhile new business endeavours off the ground.
We connect people who have been blessed with great business ideas together with people who have been blessed with the resources needed to launch them. The shared commitment, resources (be they time, skills, expertise, premises, money …) and network of support greatly increase the likelihood of brilliant ideas becoming a reality than the current model.
At Business Connect we have been challenged by Jesus' teachings about the Kingdom of Heaven to question our assumed beliefs about the nature and purpose of business. We are looking “to fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Tim 1:6) in individual Christians by supporting new ventures with the collective contributions of a loving community, instead of reducing new enterprises’ needs to financial transactions.
Warren Buffet, like Andrew Carnegie before him, is hailed as the most successful businessman in the world - the role model for business people to aspire to. The fact that he is giving 99% of his wealth away means he is also being celebrated as a “saint.”
The value of Buffet as businessman is determined entirely by the amount of profit he generates for his enterprises; the value of Buffet as a man is determined by what he does with his personal share of that profit. If we determine the value of both Buffet’s business and his character in cash, then who is our god?
Where is the consideration of how "saintly" (or otherwise) the business itself is? Who is questioning the "saintliness" (or otherwise) of one man garnering a half a million times larger share of the communal resources than his average fellow countryman? Is that one man’s wisdom in using those resources greater than half a million others combined?
Ask any "Dairy Milk" fan whether or not it was a good thing that one of Buffet's main enterprises, Kraft, acquired Cadbury’s. Ask any of Carnegie's steel-workers, who lived just above the bread-line and were old at 40, whether he was a good person to work for. In any case, how sacrificial is it to leave yourself with a mere $730 million, or nearly 3000 public buildings that bear your name as a great philanthropist.
We believe that business should be a connecting, empowering and liberating force. The Bible opens with God working and providing for humanity. To provide for each other’s needs, including the opportunity to work, is a godly endeavour.
At the moment, if you have an idea for a business, you must first turn it into a business plan that you can present to an investor. Immediately the majority of would-be entrepreneurs are set for failure, for rarely will someone whose gifting is in technology or hair-dressing or cake-making or bike repair or whatever be able to prepare a convincing financial plan at all, much less one that can persuade a financial expert.
If you do manage to describe the venture in these alien terms, then your proposal will be assessed purely on the likelihood of it generating a large financial return. If the business is likely to make the initial investor at least 10 times the amount of money they put in to it within 3 years, it is deemed to be a “good business”; if not, then it is dismissed as a bad one. There is ultimately no consideration of the jobs it would create, the families it w
ould feed, the services it would provide or the benefits it would bring to the community.
The minority of ventures that do secure investment generally spend all of the cash they raise on buying time, skills, services and expertise from other people on a purely transactional basis: again, the “sellers” have little or no interest in the new venture they are selling to beyond the cash that it brings them.
All the while, the entrepreneur does not actually want cash at all! What they want is phone calls made, a website built, a company formed, appropriate tax structures put in place, publicity, a workspace, a mentor to guide and correct them, meals cooked, children cared for, a shoulder to cry on …
These are all things that members of the community have been blessed with the resources to provide, and generally in much greater abundance than cash. Instead the entrepreneur is effectively left to navigate through unfamiliar territory alone, “enabled” only by whatever cash they have been lent at 1000+% interest. And the community is denied the opportunity to invest their gifts into something that they believe to be worthwhile.
It is interesting to note that the word “company” comes not from anything to do with money or profit, but rather from the Latin for “breaking bread together” (com=with + panis=bread). Perhaps the value of a company should once again be determined by its ability to enable us to share our fundamental resources for the good of others. And what better place to model that than amongst those who are united by their regular breaking of bread together?