A rēp team recently had the privilege of being hosted by the CSI Group for a 1-week Repurposing Business Intensive in Benoni, South Africa (just outside of Johannesburg). It’s amazing to see the progress that has been made in just six years and a few glimpses into their future!
A Little History
CSI started over 20 years ago. I (Gary Prothero, CSI Group CEO) started working as an employee and slowly over the years bought into partnership. In 2003 , my wife Loraine and I agreed we needed to part ways with the founding partner. We arranged to meet, and to our great surprise, he asked us to buy him out! After much prayer and discussion, we agreed to do so and began making the transition from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, South Africa. We invited Tim and Lindsay Greenway to join us. So, after much convincing by God, they also agreed to move to South Africa.
I had done ICCC’s Transformed Working Life course at our church and it was a very significant change in me. I became more integrated in my faith which created the opening for rēp training.
We attended the rēp Venture in Johannesburg in 2006. For me the rēp Venture was a paradigm shift in our Kingdom Business understanding. In hindsight, I would best describe our pre-Venture business activities as “stumbling around in the dark.” We ended up taking a shotgun approach - which meant we got it wrong more often than right. Using the rēp material, and working with trained consultants, we were able to discern and apply the important and practical fundamentals of operating business that belongs to God. As we clarified our purpose, internal conflicts were reduced and it was easier for us to make strategic decisions going forward. Now, we’re able to spend focused time in prayer to seek God for our business. We’ve analyzed every major aspect of our company structure, goals and vision to ensure they are in-line with God’s principles.
Business development from there has been amazing….. Including ups and downs. We would have closed the business on at least two occasions if we had not had the internal conviction that God still wanted us to continue and that we must trust Him to get us through.
Tim Greenway, Leader of one of the CSI Group’s subsidiaries, shared with us where CSI is today and where they believe they’re headed.
Our Purpose is to develop self-sustainable communities by doing business with Excellence, Integrity and Passion. We know we’re called by God into business as an extension of God’s Kingdom. We are aware that God is 100% involved with lives and our business environment is intentionally and specifically a business workplace. But there is more: we have a high regard for the people and they matter. Their families and communities are influenced by us and we try to operate in a manner that is Godly and life-giving.
So what does this look like at the ground level? We’re concerned not only with the financial sustainability of our business, but also with the people and community who develop around each business. We have made choices to invest in opportunities which may not have yielded the highest financial returns, but gave us inroads to develop leaders in new communities or industries. For example, we invested in a kite board business for a couple of years because we believed in its leader. The business didn’t generate a financial return for us, but the business leader has now spun off his own business and we trust that the years we spent with him will contribute to his long term success.
After the Venture, CSI Group was formed to accommodate business ventures outside of mining into the CSI company structure. We now have four main branches:
- CSI Mining – which specializes in cells, flooring, tankhouses and cathodes
- CSI Energy
- CSI Enterprise Development
- CSI Lifestyle
The group is not made-up of independent businesses with Gary as the common CEO. We operate as a group and try [sometimes not successfully] to do business with two bottom lines.
We make an effort to be involved with local governing structures like the Crystal Park Police Station and their counseling centre for abused women. We help in practical ways there - painting and donations. We have supported Abba Child Care Foundation for many years now. Dirk and Heather Venter, its founders are incredible. They now are full-time intercessors for us at CSI Group. They guide us through prayer and love for the people.
Our plans for the “rest of the world” are slow to come to pass as we focus on our employees and immediate communities. First, our own people need to believe that we are not in business for our pockets. If we manage to do this well, the natural flow will be a very good social impact. It has been very difficult with some retrenchments we needed to make, but we feel that slowly we are doing better at making a sustainable business and creating long term job security.