Called to Work: stories of African entrepreneurs

Ziwani Called to Work: stories of African entrepreneurs

There’s nothing like the power of storytelling. Stories inspire, and help us envision our lives not just as they are, but as they could be. When someone tells their story, and God is at the centre of it, more often we discover something of our own story too. Africa has always embraced storytelling as a means of tying one generation to the next, a thread connecting culture and wisdom over centuries. Across its rich cultural tapestry are countless stories that give expression to the unique innovation, creativity and dynamic spirit of its people, particularly in the marketplace.

Ziwani’s passion has always been to capture these narratives and bring them to life. That’s why we are thrilled about our latest series ‘Called to Work: Stories of African Entrepreneurs – an 8-part video series documenting the lives of entrepreneurs across the African continent who have walked incredible faith journeys in the African marketplace. Alongside their personal stories, we unpack the biblical principles shaping their journey, providing viewers with theological perspectives to apply in their daily lives and marketplace realities. Says Ziwani’s Sibs Sibanda, ‘This video series follows in the African tradition, as entrepreneurs tell their stories and testify to what God can do through ordinary men and women in business.’

The inspiration behind the ‘Called to Work’ series

When launched in 2021, Ziwani primarily served as a knowledge hub, with dedicated content focussed on the integration of faith and work. Gradually as a strategic community of peers and advisors formed, the team was able to ask more targeted questions around how best to support business leaders in the ‘trenches’ of African entrepreneurship? What do African business leaders need to live out their callings, with excellence, joy and feeling well equipped?

From this question, different focus areas were identified – one of which being the need to present relatable and authentic stories of Africans, for Africans. ‘There was an evident gap in representation and relevance when it came to Christian business content,’ says Ziwani head Keri-Leigh Paschal. ‘Africa is unique in its marketplace contexts, and we wanted to capture some of the stories that give expression to this uniqueness; stories that mirror the lived reality of our dynamic and distinctive continent.’

With this end in mind, Ziwani collaborated with ecosystem partner, Faith Driven Entrepreneur – adapting their existing foundation series to suit the an African context. After three years of travel and filming across the continent, Called to Work came to life. A project that champions the power of partnership, the Called to Work series aims to resonate with leaders across sub-Saharan Africa, passionate about faith and business, and eager to learn from peers who understand the realities and roads they navigate.

‘Over time it’s become clear that these videos were created, not just to ‘fill a gap’ in our content,’ said Ziwani’s producer of the series, Lise-Marie Keyser. ‘These rich stories allow other African entrepreneurs to see their own story inside them – the shared challenges, fears, faith and aspirations. Being part of the production team, spending time in homes and around tables filming these inspiring stories, was an incredible privilege. The fact that each person gave us access, not only to their expertise and insights but to their very lives, speaks to their heart of generosity and true partnership.’

What the Called to Work series entails

Each session consists of two videos – one teaching session and one testimony video. The teaching sessions, hosted by Sibs Sibanda and Roedolf Botha, delve into the theology and fundamental principles underpinning entrepreneurship. At the same time, the testimony videos breathe life into these very principles through the authentic experiences of entrepreneurs in various African contexts, from South, East and West Africa.

Accompanying the video series is a thoughtfully designed resource guide to navigate through the sessions. This guide, packed with reflective questions, invites participants to reflect on the core principles discussed and envision how these insights can be integrated into their business practices and industry landscapes.

‘The series caters to various audiences, including the church community,’ adds Keri-Leigh. ‘Our hope is that it can serve as a valuable resource for small group discussions. The accessibility of the series also makes it an ideal platform for fellow congregants and peers to go through the material together, exploring what it means to be called to the marketplace. We believe these videos, along with the accompanying biblical teaching, will equip every Christian to take steps towards living out what you feel God has called you specifically to do from Monday to Saturday.’

The stories inside the series

The series spans diverse landscapes, encompassing not only different geographical regions but also a broad spectrum of industries. Topics are clear and applicable, filled with faith lessons that have been forged in the furnace of life experience.

Nelson Ashitiva, for example, speaks to the concept of loving your neighbour through business. Rising from a one-man band in a notorious Nairobi slum, to an award-winning advocate and founder of a Top Ten law firm in Kenya, he shares on the importance of creating entrepreneurial opportunities for others.

Co-founder of the African Council for Accreditation & Accountability, Valentine Gitoho, and James Gitoho, award-winning architect, speak to the art of doing excellent work, without becoming slaves to it. ‘Don’t worship work’, their message entails, emphasising the significance of knowing your identity in Christ as you lead in the marketplace.

‘Called to Create’- the story of three trailblazers, Sandy Barlow and Pete Howie, co-founders of Seattle Coffee Co., and contemporary artist Philip Barlow, recalls their 20-year journeys of highs and lows in business. It highlights the incredible testimony of finding beauty in the mundane, rooted in the enduring ‘call to create’ in the marketplace.

Each of the eight videos are short, inspirational documentaries, aimed to inspire business leaders how they, by faith, can make a meaningful impact in the African marketplace.

Watch the trailer here:

Click here to view the sessions and learn more about the series.

Strength in resilience: African women entrepreneurs

During their last At the Lake event, Ziwani’s community delved into the topic of female entrepreneurship, exploring both the challenges and opportunities that face women in Africa’s marketplace. The conversation was so rich that it led to a follow up podcast interview with At the Lake panelist and legal professional, Sylvia Kithiniji.

In this podcast, she shares her personal perspectives with Ziwani’s Keri-Leigh Paschal on the challenges, and specifically the underlying bias that women face in Africa’s workplace, shaped by a complex interplay of culture and worldviews.

As a partner and head of corporate and commercial law at Ashitiva Associates LLP, Sylvia offers valuable insights, particularly in the context of Kenya’s legal profession. With her extensive experience leading a team of lawyers serving a diverse client base ranging from government to non-profit, private equity firms to multinational corporations, Sylvia provides a unique and rich perspective on the subject. This article gives an overview of the conversation.

Unearthing gender bias in the workplace

Keri kicked off the conversation by asking Sylvia how she developed a passion for this subject. Whilst not dismissing the issue of gender bias in the workplace, Sylvia explained, she initially paid little attention to it, having grown up believing that ‘gender should not be an excuse.’ However, over time, she realised ‘the issue is not that simple.’ Years of experience revealed to Sylvia that an entrenched and unconscious bias faces women in Africa’s workplace, shaped by a complex interplay of culture and worldviews. The key to addressing this bias, she believes, is open dialogue and conversation, asserting that ‘change does not originate from policy or the systemic level, but rather from you and me, and the individuals we interact with daily.’

Navigating the challenges of Kenya’s legal landscape

Keri asked Sylvia to revisit an interesting point she had raised during the previous At the Lake event, where Sylvia had shared: ‘Currently 44% of legal professionals in Kenya are women’ – and I believe that number is rising. But the thing that is missing,’ she went on to say, ‘is women in positions that count. I am not speaking primarily about seniority but about influence; about having the authority to make decisions and influence appropriately, bringing all their strengths to bear.’

She pointed out that what contributes to this reality is the competitive and generally patriarchal landscape of the legal profession in Kenya. For women to take on an entrepreneurial venture, she noted, they need to have an exceptionally high appetite for risk. Without this appetite, it’s even more challenging to establish one’s footing and authentic voice within a male-dominated marketplace.

Sylvia highlighted another critical point: in the legal profession in Kenya, women often find themselves directed toward specific roles that are assumed to be ‘a better fit’. For instance, she noted, ‘it’s more likely that a man is given an energy transaction, whilst his female associate is assigned to a family matter, even if she has no interest in that field of law.’ Due to these unconscious biases underpinning the industry, women are held back in many ways from diversifying their skills and discovering their full potential.

Mastering the balancing act of work and family

Sylvia and Keri recognised that there is an added complexity that comes with raising a family while investing in your career. ‘Climbing the corporate ladder and climbing the ‘family ladder’ tend to happen at the same time,’ said Sylvia. ‘At some point women start asking themselves, do I have the bandwidth to spend a significant amount of time at work and be able to do it effectively while still managing my responsibilities at home? A difficult decision is often made at this point – and normally that decision is to take up a lesser role or even leave the profession altogether to be there for the family.’

‘In my mind, there has to be balance,’ she added, ‘a way that women can do what is fulfilling for them career-wise while at the same time, serving their families well.’

How can we facilitate this and move towards achieving this balance for those women who aspire to, asked Keri?

Within her own capacity as a law partner and team leader, Sylvia believes it starts with listening to her employees – seeking to understand their unique challenges and needs – and then complementing this insight with flexible HR that enable effective management and help women to thrive, both at home and in the workplace. ‘Support will look different for each woman,’ she explained. ‘It could include flexible hours, childcare or custom maternity leave. Maybe a woman is going through a major career or life change, and having access to a counsellor could help her navigate the season. My role is to understand what’s needed and support them through this process.’

Recognising the gift of diversity in leadership

Sylvia emphasised the importance of having diverse leadership styles on the team, stating, ‘There are times when a more assertive style of leadership is effective; other times an empathetic culture is required. Of course, men and women can embrace both styles – but there is a certain empathetic nature and relational strength that women tend to bring to a business environment. Knowing when to deploy which leadership style is crucial.’

She recognised the need for intuitive and open-minded leadership. ‘There is a reason why each of us was born into this world conditioned with a specific disposition,’ she reflected. ‘So, if business leaders look at these different styles in terms of strengths generally, and not weaknesses, we’ll start unlocking the best in one another.’

Sylvia added, ‘Oswald Chambers once said, ‘All of God’s people are ordinary people’. This means that all people – both men and women – who are everyday, ordinary people, have the potential to do extraordinary things through God’s grace and leading. This happens when there is dignity, and when we feel free to be all God has designed us to be.’ 

Listen to the full podcast here.

Social justice and the supply chain

supply chain

A Mergon initiative, Ziwani is a platform for business leaders to share inspiring stories and innovative local resources while equipping one another for Kingdom impact. Ziwani’s latest series, Business & Justice, highlights the redemptive role that business can play in bringing about social justice. Through podcasts and accompanying articles as well as a downloadable guide, this practical series explores how businesses can drive economic growth whilst seeing Africa’s people grow and flourish. 

In this article, Kerryne Krause, CEO of eyeSlices, a multinational brand, shares how Christians in business can make a tangible contribution to the social justice landscape around them. Here is an overview of the conversation on how business can go beyond ethics to be transformative, bringing meaningful impact and redemptive solutions to the marketplace. 

Kerryne kicks off the conversation, acknowledging that ‘linking the supply chain to social justice is not a new idea, nor is it limited to Christian businesspeople.’ In today’s world, ethical business is not just expected, but all the more demanded and prioritised. How then does the biblical view on business look any different from what ethical business is already doing?

Transformation at the heart of redemptive business

Kerryne answers, ‘The first thing that comes to mind, is motive. God looks at the heart. Many businesses fall in with emerging trends, or contribute to various causes, purely for the sake of positive brand association. But the ‘why’ behind our actions matters – is our aim to be compliant, or to be transformative?’

She continues, ‘God’s kingdom is often counter-intuitive. In tough economic times, business leaders feel justified in cutting their labour force, or cutting salaries. But would the CEO be prepared to take a salary cut, in order to retain more staff? It is important to be wise, but are they willing to do what is right, as opposed to what is acceptable?’ As a Christian business leader, you are sometimes called to make big sacrifices, without anyone else knowing about it.

Kerryne disagrees with the notion Christians often have that their role in society is to point out everything that is wrong or evil., ‘We need to realise that part of our role as agents of redemption is to affirm what is good. Ethical business is already doing so much with respect to auditing the supply chain – and as Christian business leaders we can affirm that it is good, and add momentum to it. Then, we can trust God for even more creativity and wisdom to address social justice issues, and be even more generous in spirit.’

‘If we look at the universe, nature, and the way God treats us – it is with such generosity of love, provision and beauty,’ she says. ‘His generosity should stir ours. Are we willing to go beyond the basic call of duty? For example, we should not be satisfied with paying the minimum wage. Are we paying our staff a living wage? Are we helping them to learn sound financial management? Are we assisting them to find better housing?’

Supporting social justice through manufacturing

Kerryne explains how eyeSlices® supports social justice through redemptive practices in manufacturing.

‘As business owners, even when we don’t have a lot of resources, the one area where we can make a difference is skills development. We need to see the potential in people,’ she says.

Another way Kerryne and her team supports social justice through manufacturing, is to support local business. ‘We source 99% of our ingredients, packaging and other manufacturing requirements from South Africa, as opposed to importing from China. We visit our suppliers in person, we know their values – so that we can authentically audit our supply chain, while also stimulating the local economy.’

Even this is not a fail-safe approach. Kerryne remembers, ‘Besides sourcing from local suppliers, we looked for other product packing companies to pass on our overflow work. We were so excited when we found a company that employs people with disabilities, because we believed it would give their staff the opportunity to be economically active, and to have dignity. When we asked a few questions about their cost structure, we realised they were paying their staff way below the minimum wage. The company had concocted a system where they qualified for government subsidies, as well as earning from market-related pricing, but without passing on the financial benefits to their staff.’ In the end, eyeSlices® didn’t do business with them.

Social justice impacts the individual

‘We are confronted with social justice issues and poverty on such a massive scale in South Africa, that we feel we have to make a difference on a massive scale. It can sometimes feel like we’re trying to fill up an abyss. But whatever efforts we make in engaging redemptively in society, make a difference’ Kerryne comments.

‘Again it circles back to the ‘why’ behind our actions. Don’t be deceived – Christians also have an ego! We would love to say that we changed the lives of 200 people a year, instead of admitting we upskilled one person. But we need to balance the tension of trying to impact whole communities, with empowering an individual.’

Kerryne encourages other Christians in business to keep engaging the issue of social justice. ‘Sometimes we get tired or disappointed, sometimes we fail to help when we had the means to do so. But it’s never too late to try again. God wants to guide you – in the season of your business, with the resources you have, in the changes you need to make, where you need to step out in faith. Don’t look at what other people are doing – focus on your own journey, on what God is saying to you, and walk that out in obedience.’

Click here to read the full article. 

Embrace work as a calling

business and justice

A Mergon initiative, Ziwani is a platform for business leaders to share inspiring stories and innovative local resources while equipping one another for Kingdom impact. Their latest series, Business & Justice, highlights the redemptive role that business can play in bringing about social justiceThrough podcasts and accompanying articles as well as a downloadable guide, this practical series explores how businesses can drive economic growth whilst seeing Africa’s people grow and flourish. 

This article is an overview of the first episode in which Ziwani’s Sibs Sibanda speaks to Sammy Rabolele, co-founder of the Beyond The Eyes Network. Beyond The Eyes helps organisations tell their stories to stakeholders and broader communities  in a way that inspires faith and changes relationships for the better. Below are extracts of this interview and rich conversation on the powerful role of storytelling in promoting justice in Africa, and an invitation to listen to the full podcast.

The marketplace as full-time ministry

Many Christians struggle to see the relevance of their daily work to the kingdom of God – sometimes even thinking they should quit and go into ‘full-time ministry’ if they really want to ‘serve the kingdom’. Sammy’s journey, however, has been the opposite – he worked as a missionary on campus before going into media and entertainment.

‘So you started in ministry and then went into business?’ Sibs enquires. ‘To some this might seem like going from a noble calling to just a regular job – how did you process this move in a theological sense? In what ways do you see yourself as still serving God in and through your work?’

‘Actually, working in so-called full-time ministry on a university campus gave me a clear view of what it means to have a marketplace calling,’ Sammy explains. ‘Most of our efforts were focused on preparing young believers for their careers. The frontlines were in the hearts and minds of these students – who had to figure out what it means to love God and love people in and through their Monday-to-Friday work life.’

Sammy quotes John 17:15–18, stating that Jesus’ prayer still applies to every believer: ‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it… As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.’’

Seeking out the stories that inspire hope

Motivated by this conviction and a love for storytelling, Sammy co-founded Beyond the Eyes Network – an independent media network showcasing compelling and positive on-demand content. ‘Through my work, we have the freedom to intentionally tell the stories that reveal a divine Creator at work in the world’. These are stories of artists and entrepreneurs, creatives and athletes, who have overcome great odds and forged new paths of opportunity and ingenuity in their local sectors and communities. ‘The goal of our platform is to inspire people to look for beauty beyond their immediate circumstances, and find courage and purpose for the future,’ says Sammy.

He continues, ‘We are always on the lookout for entrepreneurs who are doing well, for people who are doing amazing things in their communities, and whose stories deserve to be told. These don’t need to be overtly evangelical – they can simply be wholesome stories of courage and hope. We love producing stories that show how the actions of one person can have a big impact. For example, a teacher who sacrificially turns around the lives of learners at a school. In every human story, we can find evidence of the divine in the mundane.’

He insists that they don’t, however, ‘sanitise’ stories to fit a superficially religious narrative. ‘Life is messy, and we want to tell real stories in an authentic way. Many stories in the Bible are difficult to tell, for example David committing adultery and murder, and then having to flee from his own son. We might cringe, but God doesn’t sanitise it.’

And although Sammy is passionate about media and the creative opportunities it affords, he affirms that we are all uniquely positioned to develop some aspect of creation for God’s glory, and for the flourishing of society. Says Sammy, ‘Regardless of the industry we’re in, all believers can have a deep-rooted conviction that their work is an act of worship, and that it is for the common good – then we can all live out Paul’s encouragement to do whatever we do for the sake of Jesus, while giving thanks to the Father (Col. 3:17).’

The powerful role of storytelling to promote justice

Pondering the benefits of positive storytelling, Sibs goes on to ask, ‘To what extent do you think the local film industry has engaged with issues of injustice?’ He explains, ‘I am not referring to documentaries about under-privileged communities that expose the problem or allocate blame. I’m referring to narratives that would actually stir those who watch it, to think about what redemption might look like. We need stories that not only make people aware of the problems, but spark their imagination to get involved,’ he states.

Sammy agrees, ‘The truth is that we have a long way to go, but that is exactly where we need to focus our storytelling resources. In South Africa, we mainly consume American content that champions their narratives. Other regions, like India, create a lot of content that deliberately engage issues facing their society, for example, the perceived shift in roles played by men and women in family life. Why don’t we tell more of our own stories? I’m a Tswana, and our word for neighbour is moahisane, which means ‘a fellow builder’. Simply by virtue of my language, I understand that my neighbour isn’t simply the person living next to me – we are fellow builders of our community. This is such a rich worldview that could really bless others.’

Sammy concludes, ‘So although justice is a very difficult topic to engage, it is at the very heart of God. Without sanitising the stories, we need to present a picture of what justice could look like, and offer hope for the future.’ This is the opportunity, and the challenge, that storytelling affords.

Click here to listen to the episode.

To learn more about the Business & Justice series, and to download the Guide, click here.

Impact investing requires a long-term view

Impact investing can unlock true value and create long-lasting social and economic opportunities for others. The key, says Andy Agaba, is in taking a long term view on your business. Read here on Andy’s journey in founding Hiinga, a faith-driven Impact Investing organisation that funds values-driven entrepreneurs in East Africa.  

‘I told God that I really wanted to be at this intersection of job creation, of supporting entrepreneurs, and providing access to capital. And to my surprise, it’s now almost 20 years later and this dream has not left me. That’s the journey I went on before starting Hiinga,’ says Andy.

Hiinga is a Christ-Centered Impact Investing Fund that invests in the ‘missing middle’ entrepreneurs. Besides capital, Hiinga provides business training and mentoring, Christian discipleship and leadership development. The hope is that these entrepreneurs will then go on to create jobs, mentor others and essentially create long-term value for their communities, families and churches.

How does Hiinga take a long-term view?

They invest in businesses over years, with lending rates below market value. ‘We aren’t profit-driven,’ explains Andy. ‘We designed Hiinga in such a way that we are not extractive. So essentially, we charge just enough to help us to remain in business. This means we don’t take all the profit, but leave some of it for the benefit of the businesses we invest in. It is based on the biblical concept of gleaning. The Jews (when harvesting fields) would not clear the whole field – they would leave some of the grain in the field so the poor could come in after them and collect enough to eat.’

This approach means that Hiinga cannot serve as many entrepreneurs as they would like – but they are seeing the fruits of their long-term investments, especially in the health sector.

Andy believes that short-term investing does not serve people well.

‘It does not really grow people, it does not grow companies, and it cannot grow communities and societies. I’m so glad that God made me African. I know when I’m investing here, I’m not just investing in me, I’m investing in our future, in the future of our children, the future of our grandchildren, the future of my friends and church and family.’

Andy points out that poverty in Africa is generational, so any strategies to combat poverty also have to be multi-generational. ‘When you think about the potential entrepreneurs to invest in, it’s not just about the young man or the young woman standing in front of you – you have to think about how this will impact their children and their children’s children.’

He goes on to explain, ‘Scripture talks about visiting sins upon the third and fourth generations. So if a problem is that deeply rooted, the solution needs to be equally long-term focused. And I definitely think things are better than they were 20 years or 40 years ago. So it takes time, as injustices are corrected and we put in the hard work to change how things are done.’

Andy’s greatest motivation comes from knowing that we’re all part of God’s beautiful redemptive story.

‘The world looks at success in many ways but in God’s kingdom, we all have an equally important role to play’ says Andy. ‘We just have to show up really, and God does the work.’

This blog is a summary of the article first published on the Ziwani website entitled ‘Take a long term view’. To read the original article, click here

Work-life wholeness: How business leaders tackle the challenge

At any given time, there are so many facets of our lives needing attention that knowing where to invest our energy and time is often easier said than done. This is especially true of business people who are passionate about living out their faith in the marketplace and willing to make personal sacrifices along the way. Most entrepreneurs struggle to strike a healthy balance between working long hoursrunning a household, investing in friends and family, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And yet God has called us to work from a place of rest and flourishing. How do we remain whole-hearted and steward these different facets of our lives well?

This was the topic at hand during Ziwani’s latest ‘At the Lake’ on 2 November. We were joined by a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs including Mergon director, Almero Strauss, Abella Bateyunga (founder, Tanzania Bora Initiative), Jacob Zikusooka (regional director, Transformational Business Network), and Phillipa Geard (founder, RecruitMyMom). Here are some highlights from the conversation.

Knowing your season

‘There’s a difference between seeking a work-life balance and seeking wholeness’, Phillipa said. ‘In fact’, she added, ‘I don’t actually believe there’s such a thing as a work-life balance. Balance implies equilibrium at all times. For any one of us who are parents or who hold down multiple roles, it’s almost impossible to keep each one of those elements in perfect balance. I am rather a big proponent of work-life integration. God has given us multiple talents, and these talents can integrate into a beautiful picture of who we are created to be if we don’t strive for perfect balance.’

Jacob reflected on this idea: ‘It’s important that we think of our lives in terms of seasons. In every season of life, we need to be intentional around the question, ‘God, what are you calling me to do or become at this point in time? Where will I have the most impact?’ There are seasons when you need to focus on family, and seasons when your career can take more centre stage. Knowing where to focus will help you step back from other areas. It may feel like God’s pruning at the time, but it will lead to growth and greater clarity around your calling.’ 

Almero noted that pruning has benefits beyond our own personal growth. ‘It’s not just good for the tree being pruned,’ he explained, ‘it’s good for the trees around it. When you cut back, you create more space and sun for other surrounding trees. We always put the emphasis on growing, but what if God wants to make something ‘smaller’ in our lives so that other people can step into those spaces?’

Setting healthy boundaries

It’s a privilege to be passionate about what you do, especially when there’s a great sense of purpose and calling involved. There’s no deeper reward than seeing others grow and flourish – whether through parenting, mentoring, or building successful businesses aligned to biblical principles. Like any good thing, however, our uptake can become our downfall if we lack healthy rhythms and rest to safeguard our lives.

Boundaries are necessary, Abella reiterated. ‘Even compassion – a gift from God – can start to harm you over time if it’s in excess. You quickly move from joy to resentment when you have compassion fatigue. Investing in meaningful relationships will help you create healthy boundaries – friends who can hold you accountable and keep you from burnout.’

Rest and exercise are important, along with a powerful word called ‘no’, the panelists agreed, which guards us from having a saviour mentality and thinking we can be everything to everyone. Almero also recommended using the ’80-20 principle’ to make good decisions that can architect a sustainable lifestyle. He explained, ‘This idea suggests that 20% of the things you do are going to make 80% of the difference – the other 80% is going to make only 20% of a difference. Rather than trying to get everything done, focus on the 20% that will make the most difference in your day.’

Establishing trust

Having established the importance of pursuing work-life wholeness in our own lives, Almero asked the question: ‘So how do our businesses facilitate this kind of ‘wholeness’ for our employees?’

First and foremost, Abella explained, it’s about cultivating a culture that celebrates creativity and nurtures personal growth. ‘We need to be effective and productive, but there should be some ‘play’ involved, and license to ‘tamper’ with ideas to build new, meaningful projects. In our company, we encourage entrepreneurship – meaning that if you have a vision or idea that fits within the vision, bring it in. Let’s see how we can support you in turning that idea into a product or service. In this way, we welcome failure – we make a point of celebrating it – because it’s how we learn.’

Jacob added to this point: ‘One of my biggest revelations is realising that I don’t have to be everything in my job. In certain areas there are other people who are much better than I am. You need to find people who are complementary in their skills and personalities and team up with them. Micromanaging erodes trust. On the other hand, when you release control and trust the team, it’s amazing to see the diversity of ideas and richness of the experience that everyone brings to the table.’

Embracing flexibility

But of course, the organisation’s culture is only as strong as the systems that uphold it. As the founder of RecruitMyMom, a recruitment agency that focuses on women in the workplace, Phillipa shared on the importance of building flexibility into your HR systems and KPIs. ‘We measure on output – something that I think is a key insight for any business owner today,’ she explained. ‘My staff work from home and they know what they’re being measured on. If they need to go and watch a soccer match or their child needs to go to a doctor, that’s okay because they know that they can build it in around their work schedule.’

‘The days of being a stay-at-home mom are fast disappearing’, she said. ‘Providing flexible work hours can help ease the burden and nurture a work-life integration.’

In closing, Phillipa reminded us that systems alone cannot create wholeness – at the end of the day it’s only God who can make us whole. ‘If we want to become more like Him, that responsibility – and privilege – resides with us.’

To watch the full event, click here.

Visit to learn more about past At the Lake events.