In Summary: All business is social business.
Over the past few years, I’ve had conversations with people, asking them what they are doing with their lives, and there are various brag-worthy claims such as “I graduated cum-laude”, or “I ran the two oceans full marathon this year, twice”, or “I released red balloons into the air because all the blacks want to kill me”. But one of the most common brag-worthy traits of individuals is “I started an NGO”. The new ISO approved sign to show that you are a success in life is no longer a Bentley, or a house in Camps Bay, but an NGO.
Now I’m playing around. I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with NGOs. A person / group of people sees a social need, and knows that if they organize themselves, they may be more effective in addressing this need. In the end, those that didn’t have, now have. Those that didn’t know, now know. Those that didn’t care, now care.
But a dangerous trend with the rise of NGOs and social organizations is the demonisation of corporate businesses. Jacques works for The Khanyisa Foundation. Yondi works for Fourth Local Bank (FLB). Jacques works on an after-care programme for children in Nyanga township, Cape Town. Yondi works in Cape Town CBD in the Transactional Banking division. Let’s occupy her street. At first glances, Jacques seems like a warm fuzzy man who wants to
Heal The World. Make it a better place. For you and for me and the entire human race.
On the other hand, Yondi seems like a money hungry, power hungry capitalist who
Started from the bottom now we’re here. Started from the bottom now my whole team here. [Censored]
But is that the case? It’s obvious that Jacques is in a social venture because of the work he’s doing. On the other hand, Yondi is part of the division of the bank that provides bank accounts to millions* of its customers. This provides a secure way to keep their money. This also makes it easier to pay others. She may play a small part of that process, but similar to Jacques, she’s adding value to the society she’s living in. She’s changing the world. And she should see her job as such.
All businesses add (or take away) some value within the society and the world they live in. Whether it’s providing food, or providing entertainment, or providing business support, there is a social impact that each business is making on society. It is therefore not ‘evil’ or less ‘righteous’ to be part of a profit-making organization. It is also not more ‘holy’ to be part of a non-profit organization.
YHWH created a big world. He is also diverse. And intelligent. And brilliant. And has endowed each person with an aspect of this brilliance, intelligence and diversity. And He gave us the opportunity to tend this garden called earth. Some are good at leading. Others at teaching. Others at singing. Others at programming. Others at helping others. Others at cooking. Others at making people laugh. Let’s celebrate this.
I work as a software developer. I work for a company that makes custom software applications for businesses to improve their efficiencies. Many of these companies in turn provide great value to their clients. Therefore, I too form part of the larger process of adding great value to the society and the world we live in.
This world is big. We need everyone. The profits and the non-profits. The project managers and the teachers. The home-executives and the corporate-executives. The musicians and the tennis players. The cooks and the taxi drivers**. Everybody. End.
* Millions is a made up number. Fourth Local Bank does not exist.
** We need the taxi drivers. But please learn how to drive.