"World, I want to leave you better
I want my life to matter
I am afraid I have no purpose here
I watch the news on TV
Abandon myself daily
I am afraid to let you see the real me" (Sia's Song: Courage to Change)
"No-one is born hating another person. […] People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." Nelson Mandela has been quoted with his wise words about the good hearts of humans in various forums.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus describes "income inequality as the source of the "social unrest, political polarization, and growing tensions among groups. It underlay phenomena as varied as the Occupy movement, the Tea Party, and the Arab Spring, the passage of Brexit in the UK; the election of Donald Trump; and the rise of right-wing nationalism, racism, and hate groups in Europe and the United States. People who feel disinherited and felt without prospects for the future have become increasingly disenchanted and angry. Our world has become sharply divided between the haves and the have-nots - two groups with little in common except a mutual sense of distrust, fear and hostility."
I believe humans are born with a good heart.
Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Yunus believe the same. In his book Three Zeros, Muhammad Yunus describes how "[…] young unemployed people […] also have a suppressed hunger for finding meaning in their lives. Fortunately, the current generation of young people is in a unique position to succeed in the quest for meaning once they feel relieved from the search for a basic livelihood." His positive outlook and trust in the fact that "The rising generation has the power to ensure the elimination of poverty from this planet. We overcame slaver, we overcame apartheid, we put human beings on the moon - all achievements that were once considered impossible. We can overcome poverty." gives me goose bumps and fills me with the passion to share this message with you on the platform of Positive Parivartan.
In the upcoming article I mostly quote Muhammad Yunus from his book "Three Zeros". If you have read a few of my blogs, you know that I am dividing this article in three. I will argues that
On a governmental level: governments need to work on subsidizing an economic shift.
On a business level: businesses need to move from either a sole focus on profit or an unsustainable non-profit to a balance of the two.
On an individual level: we need to work to ignite the passion within you to find your purpose - so you can fully serve the world.
This time I will start from the governmental and work down to from business to the individual level. Enjoy the read!
How your government fits into this Purpose of Business
Muhammad Yunus believes that "unfortunately, it's almost impossible for a democratic government to achieve any significant success through a redistribution program. The wealthiest people from whom the government is supposed to collect heavy taxes are politically very powerful. They use their disproportionate influence to restrain the government from taking any meaningful step their interest. The REAL solution is to address the cause, not the effect. We need to redesign the economic framework of our society by moving from a system driven purely by personal interest to a system in which both personal and collective interests are recognized, promoted and celebrated."
I strongly believe that the government has the role not to be part of the economic market, but to balance the externalities created by the market. The entire Lobbying industry has basically absorbed the government into the market, which makes it impossible for them to take on the role of the goodhearted leader. Any chance of the government to stay objective and neutral keeping the big picture with the benevolence of society in mind is impossible.
In order for us to achieve a sustainable POSITIVE PARIVARTAN in the way governments are led and managed, governments need to transform themselves to strong supporters of social business. Governments need to put in place regulations that benefit the growth and scalability of social businesses. Here Yunus describes, that "Social business is about using creativity to solve human problems in a sustainable way. Just as microfinance started out in Bangladesh and led the way for the world to get used to the idea of trust-based banking, our New Entrepreneurs program for unemployed youth will also pave a new path for positive change in the rest of the world."
Deleting the burdens of all humans to provide them same opportunities will come when governments focus on establishing a strong education system and creating an environment that moves people's aspirations from becoming a job seeker to a job provider. Manish Sisodia has focused on this objective of the education system in his projects in the Delhi Schools by introducing the Entrepreneurship Programs in schools. The roll out of this requires a severe mental shift. And as Yunus points out, the current generation "has the power to ensure the elimination of poverty from this planet."
This positive governmental transformation includes, the way we measure success of a government. Here Bhutan's Gross National Happiness, or the Social Progress Index or the OECD's Better Life Index are ways that have been proposed. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and we need to take the responsibility and implement this change. In his book, Yunus talks about a theoretical "GDP minus behaviors that harm human beings and prevent them from fulfilling their potential - poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime, violence, racism, oppression of women, and so on."
We need to act now.
How your business fits into this Purpose of Business
Businesses are defined to be for-profit entities, that have found a demand that people need, want and are willing to pay for.
In recent years the CSR (corporate social responsibility) has become a mandatory asset of each company. When CSR projects are implemented to increase profits, instead of providing real value to society - this is called "greenwashing". Generation Foundation's paper on "Sustainable Capitalism" states, "The efforts by executives within these companies, and others, to prevent progress on this front are as overt as lobbying for favorable policy and as covert as financing inaccurate, pseudo scientific 'studies' on the climate crisis, aimed at creating false doubts about the reality the world is facing."
Yunus describes the Non-Profit entity, as "Charity and welfare programs, [that are] are well-intended efforts to lessen the damage done by the capitalist system. But a real solution requires a change in the system itself."
This is where the introduction of social business is important. Yunus says in his book: "I defined a social business as 'a non-dividend company dedicated to solving human problems.' It was a concept that arose not from theorizing or speculation but from my practical experience working with villagers to solve tough social problems in one of the poorest countries on Earth at that time." He continues: "Social business offers advantages that are available neither to profit-maximizing companies nor to traditional charities. The freedom from profit pressures and from the demands of profit seeking investors helps make social businesses viable even in circumstances where current capitalist markets fail - where the rate of return on an investment is near zero, but where the social return is very high."
If you are not a Social Business: Please think about above definitions. Is your company sustainably providing value to society? Various papers and business cases from Muhammad Yunus, including his Grameen Banks, his Muhammad Yunus Social Business Programs are examples of how social businesses can be run. The UN has summarized the development goals in its agenda. My advice to all for-profit companies, with or without a CSR project is to take a look at the SDG's, chose one objective that fits your company's vision and fully integrate an issue's solution into the business model. If sustainable development goals remain a "neglectable side project" within the CSR sphere, our progress will remain "neglectable". Businesses carry the responsibility to provide societal value. Let's do it properly.
Muhammad Yunus rightfully talks about addressing the cause and not the effect. Which is why his suggestion to redesign the economic framework is the solution we need to implement. His various businesses are success stories and best practices we need to learn from.
We need to act now.
How you fit into this Purpose of Business
Rumi said: “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion. Bewilderment brings intuitive knowledge.” Not everyone has the same dream. Follow yours wholeheartedly. Have faith, that you following your dream provides maximum value to society.
This is what I believe.
In his book, Yunus writes, that "eliminating poverty is a question of removing the barriers faced by poor people to unleash their creativity to solve their problems. They can change their lives, if we only give them the same opportunities that the rest of us have." I would like to add, that it also requires for people in the rich world to remove the barriers of social pressures and cultural obligations to unleash their creativity to solve societal problems. Hand in hand we can change this world for the better.
Simon Sinek, author of "Start with Why" quotes that "Truly effective and inspiring leaders aren't actually driven to lead people; they are driven to serve them." His books focus on the importance and necessity to find purpose in each individual's life. In his book "Think like a monk", Jay Shetty transforms the lessons he learnt living as a monk into advice and exercises we can all apply to reduce stress, improve focus, improve relationships, identify our hidden abilities, increase self-discipline and give the gifts we find in ourselves to the world. And his podcast refer to the same.
I strongly believe that if we all focus on healing our own wounds and find our core and our "why", then a path will lay out that will provide maximum benefit to society. With this "bewilderment", as Rumi calls it, we will find peace in ourselves and happiness with the value we deliver and serve to society.
If you are working in business, I urge you to find your passion and follow it, for your passion guide the way to your purpose. Explore working for social businesses and if you find a solution to a social issue, please find the courage and serve your community by becoming a social entrepreneur. Find the courage.
When you have already found your passion. The same is applicable when we act as a consumer. Every decision you take has impact. The clothing company you purchase from has impact, support social businesses to help them scale. You're not only treating yourself, but others at the same time. With every action you can provide value to society.
We need to act now.
To close with Sia's Words and Song "Courage to Change":
"You're not alone in all this
You're not alone, I promise
Standing together, we can do anything
You're not alone in all this
You're not alone, I promise
Standing together, we can do anything"
I believe we all have the "Courage to Change"!