by Gabe Cooper
Sometimes, God calls entrepreneurs to audacious obedience in their business ventures. While starting a business in Lincoln, Nebraska can have just as much Gospel impact as starting a medical clinic in Malawi, the latter will likely require far more personal sacrifice and risk along the journey.
That’s exactly what has happened with Jun Shiomitsu. Jun is the founder of African Business Institute (ABI), a Gospel-centered business accelerator/MBA program serving three African countries. A few years ago, Jun left his successful banking career at Deutsche Bank to pursue his passion for supporting entrepreneurs in Africa. He partnered with African Bible Colleges to launch contextualized startup accelerators in Uganda and Malawi.
Jun's accelerator has already graduated its first batch of entrepreneurs, and his students have gone on to launch several successful businesses in Malawi. ABI believes that sustainable change in Africa will require strong, local businesses run by competent, ethical, local leaders. They also believe that Christian entrepreneurs who are living out the Gospel and receiving practical business training are in the perfect position to transform Africa. Jun is already seeing the tangible results of ABI’s strategic approach.
In an effort to bridge the gap between Christian entrepreneurship and traditional business education, Jun has also partnered with the University of Oxford to bring teams of students from the UK to Africa every year to work side-by-side with African entrepreneurs. The partnership has given these entrepreneurs access to the best and brightest business students in the world, while providing Oxford students with a first-hand look at true, God-centered, dignity-honoring businesses.
I had the opportunity to spend time with Jun a few months ago, and I asked him what factors drove his decision to step out in faith with ABI. It was fascinating to dig into his entrepreneurial journey. As we talked, a few core principles really stood out to me. These principles aren’t true for everyone, but they’ve been helpful for me as I learn how God could better use my passion for entrepreneurship.
No Fear! Jun had no idea what he was doing when he launched ABI. He’s a Japanese finance expert – and what he's building is completely innovative, new, and scary. Despite his fear he jumped in with both feet, knowing that God is sovereign. The best Christian entrepreneurs may have moments of worry, but they often choose to believe that God is bigger than their fears.
Relationships matter. Jun is a Japanese banker living in Uganda – but because of the power of a relational network and mutual friends, he is able to share his story across the globe. Never underestimate the value of authentic, durable friendships with people who will support you in your journey. God-honoring entrepreneurship is a team sport.
You’re never too young. I won’t tell you how old Jun is, but he’s definitely not a seasoned banker looking for meaning in the second half of his career. Jun is young, hungry and just a little bit crazy. The truth is, if Jun had waited until he had more experience, or until all the stars aligned, he would have been waiting forever. It’s never too early to start working toward the big vision God has given you.
(Editor's Note....Gabe is a long term friend, someone I met who has a passion for ministries that bring the Biblical Message of Generosity to people around the world. As soon as he heard about us launching the FDE site, he exclaimed, "I'm in". Encouragement is essential to any entrepreneurial journey and Gabe has been just that for FDE. Check out more about him and get a sense as to why I think he's so cool HK)