Why Invest $3 Million in "Redemptive Business"? by Impact Foundation
What exactly is a “redemptive business?” And why are these the type of businesses a faith-driven investor should consider supporting? Impact Foundation asks and answers those very questions in this article. They also provide a great look at Seat Kings—a redemptive business that employs prison inmates to manufacture bus seats. Read on to learn more about their business and what they’re doing to make it redemptive.
Expanding on traditional Evangelism/Discipleship, the idea of Redemptive Business borrows heavily from Praxis Labs’ concept of a “redemptive entrepreneur”, or one who seeks to embody the gospel in creating and building a venture that leaves a meaningful impact on the world. As David Blanchard has said,
“We see a thrilling opportunity for entrepreneurs to be winsome witnesses, creatively demonstrating their faith by being part of the solution. This is the body of Christ at its best, loving our neighbors through the works of our hands.”
Businesses built by these kinds of entrepreneurs may engage in “evangelism” as traditionally defined – explaining the pathway to eternal salvation. And they go beyond that to live out the Gospel through the products and services they provide and the way they conduct business.
THUS, A REDEMPTIVE BUSINESS IS AN ENTERPRISE COMMITTED TO REFORMING OR TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF ITS EMPLOYEES, VENDORS, CUSTOMERS, AND ITS COMMUNITY IN LINE WITH BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES AND KINGDOM VALUES.
Because this definition is squishy, we look to the following characteristics to determine if a business aligns with our purposes:
Pays fair compensation
Provides value (quality service/goods at fair prices)
Stands against corruption
Satisfied, repeat customers
Pays bills on time
Basic environmental stewardship practiced
CEO or other senior leader(s) regularly participates in spiritual disciplines
Seat King, a company founded by Pete Ochs, manufactures bus seats inside a maximum security prison in central Kansas. Watch the video and see Redemptive Business at work.
As the company does not produce a product with obvious spiritual significance, we must look deeper to understand how Seat King operates as a kingdom company. First, Pete pays more than minimum wage, whereas inmates would make only 45 cents per day in a traditional prison job. The state takes a percentage of their wages to help fund the prison—a social good. The men gain dignity as their work takes on meaning and their higher wages allow them to support their families and save for life after prison. More significantly, Pete and his management team spend time teaching the men leadership skills, lessons on how to be a better husband and father, and even start bible studies and discipleship groups in the prison. The life change in these men is profound and inspiring as seen in their own personal testimonies as well as reduced violence inside the prison and lower recidivism upon release.
While a business like Seat King does not offer specifically religious or spiritual products or services, it engages in evangelism and discipleship as a way of life. Thus, it earns the title “Redemptive Business”.