Grant Smith is not an enthusiastic missionary. He’s a problem-solver. When confronted with the desperate problems of poverty he witnessed in Africa, he did the only thing he knew how – business. Business that would provide jobs and pay people enough so that they would not have to rely on charity to send their kids to school, so that none would be forced to live in a tin shed without water, electricity, sewerage, or dignity, fighting off the threat of pneumonia every time it rained. His venture led to a great challenge: become the biggest housebuilder in Kenya.
Both humorous and realistic, Smith tells of his successes and failures with projects as diverse as growing oil crops, a road building scheme, house building, and selling old petrol pumps. With faith in God’s provision—and a little bewilderment—Smith wrestles with difficulties that every entrepreneur knows too well: finding investment funding only to lose it again, acquiring trustworthy business partners, confronting bribery and bureaucracy, corruption and culture. He is not the biggest house builder in Kenya – yet – but Smith has stumbled on a near-miraculous way of unlocking long-term financial provision for local Christian charities.
For those who dream of making a difference for communities affected by poverty, this story is inspiring and thought-provoking. It encourages readers to see how ordinary people have been created for a purpose and have the potential to facilitate miracles. The Accidental Social Entrepreneur is a real challenge to consider how we might use the gifts and resources we have been given to change lives.
What people are saying
“Grant Smith tells it how it is. This is a refreshingly down-to-earth, honest, engaging, moving and amusing account of one Christian's attempt to transform the lives of poor people in East Africa. It is a tale of perseverance, of refusing to be downcast by disappointment or overcome by obstacles. Social enterprise is about making money by doing good: Grant Smith shows how.”Richard HigginsonChair, Faith in Business
“This incisive exploration of injustice and one man’s call to use his skills to help those who need it most, is a reminder that each of us has a part to play in turning God’s world the right way up. As someone who has seen first-hand the problems that poverty in Africa causes, I welcome Grant Smith’s commitment to doing something about it. This is a rallying call to all of us to strive for dignity, equality and justice for all; and a challenge not just to teach a person how to fish, but to equip them to buy the pond.”Amanda Khozi MukwashiCEO, Christian Aid
“The Accidental Social Entrepreneur will no doubt be a favourite pick for anyone keen to know the raw, unedited and behind the scenes story of entrepreneurs. Grant lets us in on his journey as he seeks to do his part in being a solution to our world, a mandate that behooves each of us.
As you read through the book, you meet the real Grant Smith! Fortunately, he does not project himself as Mr. Superman. You will read about a man that is genuinely seeking to live his life to the full. A man who diligently seeks to execute his kingdom mandate. A man who works hard to be a solution to the needy and yet not a burden to his friends and networks.
A lot of people seek the easy and hassle-free route in helping the needy in society, but not Grant Smith. He does not carry a begging bowl around. In fact, I know him more as a businessman more than an NGO personnel. His business acumen is the muscle he uses to propel his charity initiatives at Hand in Hand. You will certainly enjoy Grant's personality and pathos in narrating his stories while working in the African region.
I highly recommend this book, not just to entrepreneurs but to anyone who has been entrusted with leadership. It is real, infused with his witty personality and yet carries serious practical business truths. It’s loaded with lessons of what has worked and what has not. It lays his journey in entrepreneurship bare, letting us in on all the nitty-gritty aspects of business. And as Grant says, “You can make a social difference and still make money.””Daniel KamauCEO, Fusion Capital
“Have you ever asked yourself what an ordinary working professional or small business owner like yourself can do to make a difference in the face of injustice and poverty? Read Grant’s story about doing something – not everything, admittedly, but something quite amazing – and discover the power that business can have to transform the lives of families, communities and nations. With his down to earth humour and gripping honesty, Grant tells a story of trial and error, success and failure, through thick and thin. His journey to becoming an ‘Accidental Social Entrepreneur’ will draw you in and inspire you for your own adventure. In Grant’s own words, “God hasn’t asked me to become a marine biologist, He has asked me to do what I am good at and use it for a bigger end game.” How do you become an accidental social entrepreneur? You say yes to God, no to injustice and yes to putting your business and professional skills to work for God’s Kingdom work.”Jo PlummerCo-Founder, Business as Mission Resource Team and Co-Chair, Business as Mission Global
“This book has to be the most honest and raw account I have ever read of an adventure with God. Grant’s account of his experience mixed with the reality of his thoughts and feelings as he walks through the ups and downs of being a social entrepreneur is a challenge for those of us who wish to venture into this space. His vulnerability and celebration of failure as learning is an encouragement and learning tool for us all.”Joanne O’ConnorDirector, Junction42
“If you hate reading manuals, then you will love The Accidental Social Entrepreneur. Grant Smith describes his non-planned journey into Kingdom entrepreneurship in a refreshing ‘I don’t want to put the book down’ style. He is blatantly honest about both his successes and failures.
Along his journey, he touches on fundamental truths we should never ignore. He gets to the root causes to find sustainable solutions and is never satisfied with a box of band-aids. From basics to dealing with corruption, fundraising from non-normal institutional investors, working out very big wrinkles, knowing when to stop, his stories are great. His lessons learned are relevant and presented in everyday language.
You will not know you are reading a manual on kingdom building but you will learn to want to trust God for His faithfulness. Grant’s theme of ‘Don’t ever conclude God cannot be trusted’ is a recurring theme in all of his stories. And you will retell his stories to your friends – they are worth retelling.”Willy KotiugaPhD, Programme Director, Lausanne Global Workplace Forum; Chair, Bakke Graduate University Board of Regents; Former Senior Director, SNC-Lavalin
“The Accidental Social Entrepreneur is a sober account of the stark realities of the challenge of doing business in Kenya. Grant shares candid stories of both perseverance and failure that the Hand In Hand Group have experienced as they seek to do business justly. Financial failure or success are not the only determinants of a good business.”Rev. Dr. Dennis TongoiFounder and Director (RTD) of CMS-Africa
“What a read! I can hear Grant through and through, passionate about making the difference to 3,000+ Kenyans. This is one person’s story of challenge and hope as Grant makes life count as a Christian. Integrity runs through the pages as he strives to make a sustainable difference to the lives of young people in Kenya. Making life count as an imperfect Christian. Seriously Epic.”Tim RoseNon-Exc Baptist Insurance Company, Bible Society Resources Ltd., Verein Baptist Theological; Chair Diocese of Chelmsford Vine Schools Trust; Chartered Director – Institute of Directors and Managing Director of Growbridge Ltd
“I have several reasons why I would commend this book to those seeking to be faithful to God in their Christian living, but I chose to give only three of them. First the book is highly readable giving several short life stories that are interesting to follow. Secondly, the book is one flowing challenging story of the life and faith of Grant Smith relating with several people as he seeks to obey God in serving the needy. Thirdly, I have lived through several of the stories written here, and I very much appreciate the high level of honesty, transparency and vulnerability depicted by Grant. You will be challenged to think and live your faith meaningfully in every circumstance you meet in life.”Prof. Timothy Wachira
“Grant writes like he lives, with a ‘no holds barred’ devotion to serving Jesus with his whole life. This book is so important because each page is ‘honest’ and ‘real’ and tells the story of what happens when a person wholeheartedly surrenders their life to Jesus. Grant challenges the ‘familiar’ and inspires us all to a deep devotion to Jesus in our daily lives. I dare you to read it!”Dennis PethersFounder, International Pioneer, The Rooftop Ministries
“A must-read for anyone who feels called to combine a life of giving with business. Grant Smith’s adventures in South America and East Africa will both enlighten and entertain you. The good humour, generosity of spirit and simple faith he has shine through in his writing. He doesn’t shy away from the difficulties he has faced, nor take himself too seriously. His impish sense of humour is always with you. I wish more business books were like his.”Dr. Phil GoodwinChairman Fusion Capital
“Grant Smith is a passionate man who in line with his faith combines risk taking and natural gifting and skills to change lives. His desire to do the will of God is evident, as are the fruits of his kingdom building life.”Paul SzkilerCEO Truestone Impact Investment Management
“You’ll hear Grant Smith’s voice in these pages. It’s straight talking, painfully honest, and it’ll make you smile. More than that, you’ll hear his heart. It’s the heart of someone who is comfortable with his own company but who knows the significance of relationships to make things happen. It’s the heart of someone who recognises there are no guaranteed outcomes in business but who goes with a mixture of trust in his gut and faith in God. Above all, it’s the heart of someone who is not only bothered by injustice but is determined to do something about it. Grant does so not primarily by rattling the equivalent of a collection tin, but by seeking to alleviate poverty through business: by building houses, putting boots on feet and hard hats on heads in the process; by paying workers above the minimum wage, allowing them to support their families and pay school fees and medical bills; in a way that’s environmentally responsible and which treats people as made in the image of God rather than as commercial commodities. In an account that’s part business memoir, part theological reflection, part spiritual journey, Grant takes us through his adventures in mechanical sweepers, used petrol pumps, agriculture, and housing. There are perhaps more lows than highs along the way, but shot through it all is the perspective that ‘Christianity is a way of life, not an insurance policy for what comes next’. If that resonates with you, read on.”Antony BillingtonTheology Advisor, London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, and Senior Pastor, Beacon Church, Ashton-in-Makerfield
“Grant Smith delivers a fun approach to his experiences navigating from the commercial world to traditional charitable missions, and then returning to the commercial world for solutions which traditional charities are unable to provide. Excellent storytelling as multiple failures lead to an outstanding and God-pleasing outcome!”Bill MeierPresident and CEO, Kingdom Workers
“Grant Smith has done an excellent job of bringing forth very confronting issues that are ignored by the media and painting a picture of the problems and poverty people are facing in Africa. Grant shares throughout the book very practical tips about building business for the Kingdom and how one idea to create jobs has an amplified positive effect for so many people. I have personally been inspired to think out of the box of how we can help those in need through business.”Sarah-Jane MeesonChristian Women in Business
“The Accidental Social Entrepreneur by Grant Smith is a must-read for all Christian business people whether they work in the for-profit or non-profit sector. Grant’s journey into social entrepreneurship is genuine and inspiring, and it provides a great example of what it means to be a faithful servant of God. The book is filled with stories that will resonate with many of us. It is full of the wisdom Grant has gained and the lessons he has learned through his experiences of both success and failure.”Gene Kim, Executive DirectorCenter for Integrity in Business, Seattle Pacific University
“Grant Smith is an intrepid entrepreneur. Not only does he see opportunities where others see problems; he also has the fortitude to see his visions become reality. This book is a testament to the transforming power of whole-life discipleship within testing circumstances.”Dr Peter S HeslamTransforming Business, University of Cambridge
“Wow this book is gold! Grant carries the heart of God directly to you. It is challenging, heart wrenching and thought provoking. Grant does not just share the principles of wealth creation and the challenges that go with them but the kingdom purposes of God. Grant is a solutionist who radically challenges the why of making money. What is your why?”Janet Grace Schier
“Proverbs 29 vs 18 says ‘Without vision, the people perish’ – Grant Smith has a Godly vision, and I trust that those who benefit from it will not perish.”C. Ralph HiltonFRICS Chartered Building Surveyor