Return on investment – ROI. This is a common term and acronym in the financial world as well as in the business community. People invest in businesses with a hope of getting a good return. This is also the lifeblood of the stock exchanges around the world. Companies need financial capital to start and to grow. Many start-ups get money from the 3 F’s: friends, family and fools. They may not see their money grow or return.
As we acknowledge the importance of both financial capital and investors, we also need to review the concept of ROI. The most prevalent paradigm is a Wall Street concept.
Simply put, Wall Street is relatively one-dimensional: it is about money. Investors put some money into a business, with the hope and expectation to get more money back in the shortest time possible. That it is a two-way street: money goes from investor to business, and then back from business to investor. This is not bad or evil, but we need to think bigger, beyond the traditional ROI. We need to move from Wall Street to BAM Street.
Business as Mission is about seeking a positive impact on multiple bottom-lines for multiple stakeholders – through business. In BAM God is always one of the stakeholders, thus we are not Christians just doing social enterprise.
The BAM Street is different from Wall Street. A company needs financial capital and it needs to make a profit, but that’s not all. We recognize the importance of other bottom-lines as well. John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods, states that businesses should “endeavor to create financial, intellectual, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, physical, and ecological wealth for all their stakeholders”.*
BAM Street recognizes the importance of investors, business owners and operators, but we also value other stakeholders such as staff, clients, God, customers, community, creation, suppliers, church, family, and so forth.
BAM Street is multi-dimensional. Besides financial capital we are also intentional about putting in other kinds of capital into a business: intellectual – like mentors, and spiritual – like prayer. And it is more of a roundabout than a simple two-way street.
Roundabouts have multiple entry and exit points. I may put money in, but the financial return (part of or whole) may go to some other entity in the BAM eco-system. Part of the profit can go the community, to profit-sharing schemes or into investments in other BAM companies. (See PS)
The BAM Street engages more people and groups with various resources, to go in and through a business, to be a blessing on many levels for many stakeholders.
The global BAM movement needs more financial capital. But more money is not enough if we just think and operate on a Wall Street concept. We also need a discussion of what we mean by ROI. Should we settle for Wall Street, or should we move towards BAM Street? With the latter model we can see more and different kinds of capital invested in businesses, with more returns to more stakeholders.
PS. To learn more about how a BAM Street model works – and has worked since 2001, please see http://www.transformationalsme.org
PPS: Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury just published an article in The Telegraph, where he writes that “… inclusive capitalism does not always seek the maximisation of reward, but rather the maximisation of human flourishing.” See The Telegraph
* Conscious Capitalism, by John Mackey & Raj Sisodia