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Our History

From One Man’s Inspiration To A Global Force For Business


An Idea Is Born

Dr. Ivan Misner is looking for ways in increase clients for his personal consulting business. He and friends Carolyn Denny, CPA; Lee Shimmin, insurance agent; and Mike Ryan, financial planner, hatched a plan.


First Official Meeting

The first official meeting of The Network was held by Dr. Misner and friends in January 1985 in Arcadia, California.


The Network Is Renamed Business Network International

In 1991, Dr. Misner could see the organization was close to launching internationally, and to prepare for the change he rebranded The Network as Business Network International. Shortly afterward, he shortened the name to BNI for simplicity and trademark purposes.


BNI Opens Internationally

Canada opened BNI’s first chapters outside the United States in Thunder Bay, Ontario.


BNI Opens in Europe

BNI opens in the first country across the Atlantic Ocean, the United Kingdom, after an executive director in Canada, Steve Lawson, encourages his brother, Martin, in the U.K. to launch BNI in his town.


BNI Opens in Australia and New Zealand

A member from Canada moved to Australia in 1997 and worked with local groups to open BNI. A year later, a BNI member from the U.K. emigrated to New Zealand and the rest is history.


BNI Opens in Africa

After a visit to BNI in the U.K., Mike Levin decides to open in South Africa in 1998.


Global Headquarters Relocates to Charlotte, North Carolina

To better support the growing international audience and to open the door for additional talent on the team, the Global Support Team relocates the BNI Headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina.


Official International Support Office in Castlebar, Ireland

With a booming international market, an International Support Office is opened in Castlebar, Ireland.


Total Global Membership Tops 200,000

Global membership of BNI passes 200,000 on May 20, 2016, with 7,486 chapters in 65 countries.


Support Office Opens in Bangalore, India

As a country gaining momentum in BNI, with 100-plus member chapters launching and growing, the Global Support Team opens a satellite office in India.

Find Out More.

Contact Us

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Bijay Shah

“Having been a BNI National Director now for over 12 years, I can’t think of any other business venture which could be as rewarding and satisfying. Not only have I found the BNI Concept an excellent business model from a Master Franchisee point of view, but it’s even more fulfilling as I get the opportunity to impact people’s personal and professional lives every day.”


National Director, United Arab Emirates & Qatar

Lorena Medina

“Being part of BNI makes you a part of a larger, worldwide community that breathes and lives its core values, every day. The collective knowledge and support is invaluable to your own personal growth and that of your BNI business. You will want to be a part of this.”


National Director, Mexico

Y.P. Lai

“As a BNI National Director, there is an immense sense of fulfillment when I directly help business owners grow their business, allowing them to provide more job opportunities and better financial security to their employees’ families. In BNI we are building business communities that are focused on supporting each other and that have a culture of love and caring. It is not only about business, it is also about giving back to society and creating a meaningful legacy. We are definitely “Changing the Way the World Does Business.”


National Director, Thailand, Vietnam & Philippines

Graham Southwell

“Getting involved in BNI has been a life changing experience. The personal, spiritual and economic growth that I have experienced in my 18 years of running BNI in New Zealand has far exceeded my wildest expectations. BNI makes a difference not just to myself and my family – but also to the communities in which we operate.”


National Director, New Zealand

The mission of BNI is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral marketing program that enables them to develop meaningful, long-term relationships with quality business professionals.