You’ve heard of Ethical businesses. But what is a Redemptive business?
By Elise Tan, Pei Lee, Annabelle Lim
“Purpose-driven companies.” “Operating with environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards.” “B-Corp”. These are but a few of the buzzwords describing ethical businesses in recent years. What does it mean to be a Redemptive business, though?
Praxis, an ecosystem builder for Redemptive Entrepreneurship, defines it this way: “the Redemptive way is creative restoration through sacrifice—to bless others, renew culture, and give of ourselves. Redemptive actors pursue an “I sacrifice, we win” approach with the agency and resources available to them. The motivating force behind the Redemptive way is fundamentally others-centered: to love and serve.”
According to Praxis, this spirit of laying down one’s life should be practiced in how an entrepreneur builds, what he builds, and why he builds. It should affect product development, branding, company culture, partnerships, business model development, and is tied to a founder submitting his ambition to the lordship of Christ.
The familiar ways of doing business – Exploitative or Ethical
Since the Industrial Revolution, companies have been operating with an exploitative, zero- sum mindset by default. Employers have been operating with an “I win, you lose” scarcity mentality. To survive, one has to capture as much market share as possible, charge what the market will bear, and fully capitalize on all available resources, and at all costs. The ultimate aim is to return value to shareholders.
In the 1970s, the modern concept of Business Ethics was born, and business owners realized that they could operate their business in an ethical way. It dawned on a few that it is possible to generate profits with no harm to others, to play fair and by the rules. The mindset pivoted from a “win-lose” to “win-win” one. As Praxis puts it, “the motivating force behind the Ethical way is to be good and do good — which can often also be self- or tribe-centered.”
What are examples of Redemptive businesses?
Redemptive businesses, however, are not limited to social enterprises or non-profit organizations. There is a way to run a profitable yet redemptive business. Outside of Southeast Asia, examples of Redemptive businesses include Lasting, Turaco, Tithely.
Lasting, founded by Praxis accelerator alumni Steven Dziedzic, is a self-guided therapy company that is trying to redeem the state of relationships we see around us. Thus, embedded in the platform are Dziedzic’s heart to offer products that lead to human flourishing. As he himself was exploring the resources available to those in relationships, he realized the gap for redemptive tools to help couples repair relationship issues. By helping couples understand one another, work through disagreements, and connect in healthy ways, the programme has been able to help 94% of its couples improvement the strength of their relationships.
What are examples in Southeast Asia?
As the Redemptive business philosophy is still being socialzed, there are not many exemplars in Southeast Asia yet. Here, we highlight two examples, Beam&Go and ZilLearn .
Founded in 2014, Beam&Go is a social impact fintech startup that provides products, tools, and services that enables migrant workers and their families in Southeast Asia to better manage their finances, save up, and earn money. Instead of sending remittances back home, the platform allows migrant workers to support their families’ needs through gift certificates – allowing their family members to purchase food, supplies, medicine, healthcare and even pay for bills. Beam&Go takes a cut from the gift certificates purchased, ranging from 1% for basic necessities and up to 20+% for others.
David Yeo founded Kydon Holdings in 2012 with a vision of improving human lives by leveraging technology to create scalable, accessible, and adaptable learning. He more recently created ZilLearn, a learning ecosystem that empowers its users to reskill, upskill and quickly adapt to the new digital economy. The platform provides a free service that enables one to identify the skill gaps in getting to his or her ideal job and recommends relevant courses to address the gaps. His firm recently announced their partnership with Tencent to provide cloud computing courses to upskill job seekers in Southeast Asia.
Inspired by Praxis and Sovereign’s Capital, Digital Mission Ventures was set up by Shu Chen Lim and Chris Yeo to help early-stage tech founders build redemptive missional companies by connecting them to capital, mentors, robust content and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
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Do you know someone who is interested in incorporating the Redemptive element into their business or is already running one?
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