Here’s the thing about traditional capitalism and why it will never produce a prosperous society: Profit positively correlates with problems. The more problems there are in this world, the more money there is to be made off them. Think about it:
1. The more car accidents, the more money mechanics make
2. The more unhealthy people, the more money drug companies make
3. The more crime, the more money prisons make
4. The more bombed cities, the more money Exxon makes fixing them
Now I’m not saying that your local mechanic is leaving marbles on the road. But business is business and the responsibility of managers is to ensure profits, jobs and growth for their companies. So theoretically, in the context of my previous examples, this would discourage these companies from actively seeking disease prevention, rehabilitation and peace. I’m going to give the local grease monkey a break 🙂 (Just in case they are reading this)
Well here’s what we can do about it. We can start making businesses who’s core values are to positively impact on society instead of profit off it. Instead of developing products that provide material value, we will develop ones that provide for the core needs of people. And the key point is that we will measure the success of the business based on the social impact, NOT profit.
The core difference between this and a charity is that it is self sustaining. They don’t take donations, rather they earn money on the products and services they sell. It is a business. However, decisions are based upon the core goal to remedy a problem and any profits made are invested right back into helping reach the business goal.
For example, you could offer your services in helping set up vegetable gardens for schools. The schools could use the garden as a learning resource and even use the crops for food. Your staff would be paid a reasonable wage and any profits would go into helping reaching more schools, improving your services or lowering your fees.
This may not seem revolutionary but here’s why it’s important. In attempting to think of an example, I focused on brain storming services that could better society. Normally, I would have thought of products that would be profitable. Maybe a utensil that would unnecessarily use up natural resources to make a trivial kitchen task easier. If we all start to think like this we will start to solve problems and reduce this culture of selling superficial products for money.
This isn’t an original idea. And yes it works! It’s an idea presented by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus. The concept is termed Social Businesses and he cites examples of such businesses that he has created in his book ‘Creating a World Without Poverty’. For example, he recounts in detail the creation of a cheap, nutritious yogurt to sell to poor villagers in Bangladesh. The company created was an off-shoot from French food manufacturer Danone and as a result has improved the health of thousands of poor
So my bright, enlightened and entrepreneurial peers. When you go off into the world of business consider this. Are you in it to rake in a bit of cash? Or help steer your world in the right direction and bask in self satisfaction not profit?