FORGE Global Summit Event Recap - Nairobi, Kenya

February 23, 2023

2023 FORGE Global Summit by Sinapis Group

“We know so well we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you, Jesus.” 

A simple reminder spoken aloud by worship leader Evelyn Mutua during the start of the 2023 FORGE Global Summit said it all. Christ is the foundation from which a diverse gathering of frontier market capacity builders, entrepreneurs, investors, and philanthropists came together the week of January 31—February 5. Our goal? To address and pursue sustainable solutions to poverty through job creation and discipleship when an estimated 676.5 million people live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 per day. 

Sinapis hosted the summit in partnership with Faith Driven Investor and Angello. FORGE drew 150 participants from 32 countries to Nairobi, Kenya, where Sinapis’ East Africa operations are headquartered.

Entrepreneur capacity builders like Sinapis offer training, advisory services, and ongoing community to equip entrepreneurs in emerging market economies to integrate their faith into their work and grow successful businesses that can create economic, spiritual, and social impact. We serve small and growing businesses (SGBs), typically with 5 to 250 employees, as companies this size fuel economies and account for up to 80% of new job growth in emerging markets. A Summer 2022 article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review points to the need for this novel type of organization that offers long-term support to businesses in emerging economies. Sinapis is one such organization, and we integrate a biblical framework for business into everything we do.

CEO Matthew Rohrs summed up Sinapis’ vision in his opening summit address:

“Indigenous entrepreneurs who run profitable companies dedicated to Christ are absolutely essential for God’s Kingdom coming. They provide vital products and services. They create and sustain jobs, which we believe is the best way to alleviate material poverty. And they build economic engines that fuel the growth of the church from inside the culture.”

Throughout the week at FORGE 2023, a lot happened:

  • Faith-driven investors and fund managers connected with six local entrepreneurs who completed Sinapis’ nine-month Ascent program for high-potential East African founders and their leadership teams. These founders pitched their businesses before a large crowd on FORGE’S first night, and all six are engaged with potential investors interested in their businesses.
  • Capacity builders from around the globe built relationships and worked together to solve problems and share knowledge, resources, and best practices.
  • Leaders from across the globe dreamed together of national-level change in frontier markets, especially in places hostile to the gospel.

Matthew later challenged participants to “dream bigger” with six questions that speak to the potential impact of this movement:

“Can you imagine thriving ecosystems of faith-driven entrepreneurs in every country in the world? Close your eyes and think about the least reached, most difficult places. Do you believe it is possible?”

“Can you imagine faith-driven entrepreneurs in frontier markets building companies that change industries? Maybe impact whole economies?”

“Can you imagine the horrors of slavery and human trafficking being eliminated by hope-filled employment?”

“Can you imagine organizations that serve entrepreneurs united around the globe, generously sharing knowledge and tools to more effectively equip entrepreneurs in their work?”

“Can you imagine Christ following capital providers deploying billions of dollars of wealth into the markets that need it most?”

“Can you imagine philanthropic capital rallying to this sector, making it possible to provide the training, mentors, and spiritual support that millions of entrepreneurs need to create thriving businesses?”

FORGE Participants attending a final weekend retreat in Limuru, home to Kenya’s tea industry, learned from peers and problem-solved in breakout groups. We shared meals and played soccer. Gathered around a large bonfire on the last night, a spontaneous request for a guitar led to praise songs sung in unison under a star-sprinkled sky. It was a “campfire choir,” as one person afterward described it. Relationships and vision growing, the week ended in worship as it had begun. 

Of course, one week together at FORGE didn’t resolve the complex problems of material and spiritual poverty that emerging and frontier markets face. But as this global community works together to build sustainable faith-driven entrepreneurship ecosystems, we are thrilled by the progress and the potential we see for global transformation.

The FORGE Global Summit is the only annual conference for Christian-focused entrepreneurship ecosystems in emerging and frontier markets. This summit is an opportunity for pioneer capacity-building market leaders and entrepreneurs to come and share their visions with a global movement of funders and other support organizations.

To read what others are saying about FORGE 2023, CLICK HERE. To watch Matthew Rohrs’ “dream bigger” address, CLICK HERE, and to enjoy the whole of FORGE 2023’s opening day, SEE BELOW.

To learn more about the evidence-based outcomes of Sinapis’ work to alleviate spiritual and material poverty, CLICK HERE

 If you want to learn more and join us, please contact Sylvie Sommerville, Director of Product & Partnerships.