Belief in Enterprise

Christian Entrepreneurs and Poverty Alleviation in Developing Countries

Belief in Enterprise is a research initiative based on two key research findings. First, the creation of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is crucial to economic development. Second, religion helps create the social capital necessary for successful enterprise.

Christianity is the world's largest religion, its adherents constituting about a third of humanity. It is rapidly growing, particularly in developing countries. Many of these countries are also undergoing rapid social and economic change that many commentators describe as an entrepreneurial revolution.

This highly entrepreneurial initiative focuses on the convergence of the rise of Christianity and the rise of entrepreneurship. It does so in order to advance understanding of how this confluence helps address one of the greatest moral and practical challenges of the 21st century – the elimination of poverty.

Despite burgeoning interest in development, entrepreneurship, and religion, the nexus between these three fields is largely ignored. We believe this is to the detriment of finding people-centred, culturally-embedded and sustainable solutions to poverty.

We take, therefore, a multi-disciplinary approach focused on the grass-roots of wealth and value creation in developing contexts. We explore how the faith of Christian entrepreneurs influences their sense of vocation, the way they run their companies and the social and environmental impact of their core business activities, especially when faced with risk and uncertainty.

Our outputs target a variety of audiences that mirror our multi-disciplinary approach and our engagement with practitioners as well as academics. In doing so, we intend to analyse and catalyse enterprise solutions to poverty that promote human and environmental flourishing, for the good of all.

The project's staff during the data gathering phase included the Principal Investigators (PIs), Dr Eric Wood, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town, and Transforming Business' Dr Peter Heslam. They were assisted by a Research Coordinator Dr Carol Christopher and a Research Associate Rebecca Shah, as well as a team of Case Study Researchers. We gratefully acknowledge financial support for this phase from the SEVEN Fund in partnership with the John Templeton Foundation.