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Cal Bailey Sustainability Director NG Bailey Group Credit: Christian Aid
Cal Bailey Sustainability Director NG Bailey Group

Cal Bailey, Sustainability Director, NG Bailey Group

I’ve been a Christian since being a teenager, and have felt called to be in business since I was a student. I’m now in my 50s and have spent my life in business, and also in church. Yet I have felt unsupported, even disparaged, as a businessman at church.

When I ask why this is, I have three answers:

  • My calling is ignored generally – i.e. not taken seriously – and challenged occasionally: the business world isn’t somewhere the church sees as having any role in growing God’s kingdom
  • I think this is because business is generally distrusted; it is seen as putting greed before customers – so it serves money, not God
  • There is a general silence about Monday to Friday activities from “church professionals”; there is implicit support for caring professions – but never anything about business more than a warning not to “pinch the paperclips”.

Yet I need help to be a Christian in business. I need friendship, support, ideas and challenge.

Salt provides all these and provides them in a context of God’s purposes for his world.

Especially his suffering world, the real one, which is invigorating and full of both learning and opportunity.

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Simon Hickman
Simon Hickman

Simon Hickman, CEO, Access Insurance Services

Access Insurance Services has always sought to run a value based business model (VBBM). Creating value for customers, staff and the wider world as well as our shareholders.

I wanted to start a conversation internally about our mission and values. Investigating what we can do to alleviate poverty by supporting aid organisations, and those helping the poor, to set up sustainable businesses around the world.

The Salt Business Network seems to us to be the perfect space in which to explore these aims. Since joining the network it’s become clear to me that our VBBM needs to be clearly defined and communicated. Which is why our Mission and Values statement will be launched across the business this September.

Like me you may find yourself overwhelmed when you look at the vast number of people around the world affected by poverty. And yet we must do something. Our small individual contributions will have a huge impact for the few people it reaches.

My hope is the Salt Business Network flourishes as it strives to create a community of like-minded Christian professionals, committed to alleviating poverty worldwide.

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Sophi Tranchell
Sophi Tranchell

Sophi Tranchell, Group CEO, Divine Chocolate

I joined Salt, Christian Aid’s Business Network, as I am a great believer that we can address many of the challenges of poverty, and the major factors such as inequality and environmental destruction that create it, through business.

As the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals have made clear, business can be a serious part of the problem. But that also means it can and it should play its part in delivering the solution.

Christian Aid has always been a great champion for social justice. They were an early investor in Divine Chocolate, seeing the potential in a business significantly owned by poor cocoa farmers as a way to deliver a more equitable share of the wealth they are helping to create, and using it as an example to their supporters of how business can be done.

So when they said that they were setting up a business network I was delighted to support it. Bringing together business people who recognise the opportunity business has to address both the causes and outcomes of poverty, and share their experiences and learn from each other, has powerful potential and could be a real catalyst for change.

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Stuart Green
Stuart Green

Stuart Green, Founder, know research

know research is a market research consultancy business, based in the Midlands. We conduct research on behalf of many of the UK’s leading brands, including commercial and non-profit organisations. Our services include qualitative research, such as focus groups, and quantitative research, such as online surveys and app-based research. The aim of know research is to make great research accessible to all organisations. We are particularly keen to support smaller businesses and non-profits, who are not well-served by large research agencies.

We are founder members of Christian Aid’s Salt Business Network and joined for several reasons. We are passionate about working ethically and responsibly, and Salt gives us the opportunity to explore what this means for businesses. As supporters of Christian Aid, we also strongly believe that we all have a role to play in reducing and eradicating poverty.

I have attended several Salt network meetings and have found them very helpful. They have provided me with key information about relevant topics for business leaders. Within the sessions, there has been the opportunity to discuss these issues with other business leaders. Network members come from a range of businesses, some from similar organisations to my own with similar challenges and much larger businesses with very different issues.

There has also been a challenge to review our business practices, coupled with support from Christian Aid. There have been some aspects of business which I have wanted to develop for some time, such as tax avoidance declarations for suppliers and clients, and the Salt network has given me a place to access advice on these.

Membership of the Salt network has enabled me to make tangible changes to the business. We have clarified its mission and changed our thinking about reporting to better reflect our business aim. We have also reviewed the way we communicate our values internally and externally.

Another development is making a corporate donation to the Incubator Fund. We find this scheme particularly appealing because it is about acting in partnership, which reflects our ways of working. The fund is about encouraging business leaders and giving them the ability to develop their business.

We believe strongly believe that entrepreneurs around the world can help to eradicate poverty, but also that sometimes resource is needed to unlock this potential. I was fortunate to have sufficient working capital and business knowledge to launch know research, but start-up businesses often find it difficult to scale-up their operations because of the risk involved. The positive knock-on effect of a successful business on local communities can be immense, and so we strongly support Christian Aid’s work to support these businesses in developing their potential.

Looking to the future of the Salt Business Network, I hope that the network will continue to grow and to have a positive influence on business in the UK and around the world. There is a greater awareness of social responsibility issues, but equally there are pressures on some businesses from the wider economy which can hamper progress. I pray that, as we continue to develop as a network, we can be an important voice which has a positive impact on business practices.