January 23, 2021

The Spirit of Enterprise

First published in The Times Newspaper 23rd January 2021

As the pandemic continues, we need an outbreak of something more powerful than a virus: the spirit of enterprise. It is if time for new business enterprises that create value and jobs to replace the hundreds of thousands being lost. We need initiatives that can create social glue, capable of bringing the disparate parts of our lonely and isolated society together.

As a follower of Jesus, my go-to place for inspiration is the Bible, which says, “Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18). Clearly, wealth creation is a gift of God, not a gift of capitalism.

The word ‘wealth’, which has come to mean financial abundance, derives from the old English word ‘weal’, meaning wellness and wellbeing. True wealth is not simply the sum of our cash and assets, but is also the relational capital that exists in our families, communities and society. This is the essence of the Hebrew word Shalom, which means peace, harmony, completeness, welfare and prosperity.

God’s gift of wealth creation can unleash untold levels of human flourishing and thriving. The “Faith Driven Entrepreneur” movement explains, “We believe that business has God-given power to transform nations by creating jobs, generating prosperity and catalysing human flourishing” - an entrepreneurship, not driven by motives of selfish ambition and greed but rather of compassion and a desire to benefit all.

NAYBA, the charity of which I am founder, has been busier than ever during the pandemic supporting social entrepreneurs to scale community impact. Our partners in the UK are opening community ‘listening ear’ centres; in South Africa thousands of face masks are being produced to protect key workers; and in Australia, they are training volunteers to reduce the tragic growth of domestic violence. Cinnamon is supporting these social entrepreneurs to replicate their approaches to save others having to reinvent the wheel.

In the UK the number of companies formed in the second half of 2020 soared compared to the same time the previous year. According to the Office for National Statistics there are more than 13,000 companies being formed every week compared to 11,000 during the same time the previous year.

Whilst high street spending is down, we are seeing the “at home” market grow. At home medical testing, sports equipment, education platforms, family entertainment, and food and wine experiences are rapidly growing. These market changes are not temporal so initiating a new enterprise now will build benefits for years to come.

As the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”. Let’s innovate, launch and grow rather than pause, retreat and retrench. Maybe you have a creative, enterprising or innovative idea, an idea that could be deployed to create wealth and wellbeing in your community, across our country and around the world?

From my experience in coaching entrepreneurs, the greatest barriers are self-limiting beliefs. We might think that our idea, resources or experience are too small to come to much. God is in the habit of taking the little we offer him — such as the boy who offered Jesus five small loaves and two fish to help feed a crowd — and making a lot out of it. On that occasion the crowd of 5,000 people were fed and there was more to spare.

At other times the resistance to our idea may come from those we try and get on board in the early stages. It may be an angel investor, strategic partner or board member. Recently, a friend reached out to someone with a powerful idea. They were pushed away with the response that they weren’t taking on anything new until after the pandemic. I can’t help but think that it could be a slightly longer wait than they think.

It’s actually the spirit of innovation, creativity and enterprise that will help pull us through this pandemic. Let’s overcome our feelings of self-doubt and fear of rejection and failure and instead dig deep in our reservoirs of determination, hope and compassion.

Now is the perfect time to launch a new venture. There is no shortage of human need and opportunity or the people talent, technology and financial capital required. Let us unleash the spirit of enterprise to create livelihoods and well-being: true wealth and shalom.

Matt Bird

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