Social Business

In Summary: All business is social business.

Chef on Lower Main

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.

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