Making Business “Valuable”

We famously ascribe to the late American economist and winner of a Nobel prize Milton Friedman the saying; “The business of business is business.” Many a times we do not think of the underlying meaning such a phrase may mean, resulting in unethical pursuits of profits at the expense of the human person. Having been a worker within various fields for the common good part of two decades now, Friedman’s quote has come to mean different things at different times. On the whole, my armchair observation of business conduct in South Africa revealed the pursuit of wealth and amassing profits, a major driving force, no matter how subtle businesses want to pretend of otherwise. For a long time, I have been one to take a mediocre stance arguing my individual effort does not make any difference in the wider scheme of things. An encounter with a homeless man when I had travelled over a hundred kilometres out of my comfort zone for a job interview, changed my worldview about issues regarding employment and business as a whole. It was then I made a decision that my effort counted. Business unrelentingly sought profit without regard to the employee.

Work should dignify the person and bring value and satisfaction that corresponds to the effort expended. Being a hardworker at times would not correspond with the remuneration one would receive at the end. As such, there is no enenjoyment when one is working, because one is made to feel they are mere means to attain ends – profitability. However, worker satisfaction has proved, very important for productivity and hence profitability. The workplace ought to be a place of further human and professional development. In the various employment capacities, I have been privileged to undertake, most employers resist employee development or investing them so that there is improved, quality production. Instead, they suspiciously regard it a loss since such empowerment may result in employee exodus for greener pastures. The moment developing employers are seen in such a light, the more instances of abuse and oppression in the workplace become rife. As such, the lack of desire to raise the other up is a huge obstacle suffocating African economies. The lack of support of the other not only affects the employee, but the business as a whole in the long run.

The Accelerated Development Initiative Initiative (ADI) is established as an organisation that will leave a unique footprint on every individual whose life we touch. The restoration of human dignity and societal value is a mantra at the core of our activities along with creating inclusive, self sustaining communities. Our partnering with Maat-ECG Africa is a very important milestone and benchmark since we have shared beliefs and values. The ADI does not intend to be a bottomless aid pit for the marginalised communities, but we are for empowering these so that they hand down a legacy and tradition of empowerment within their communities long after we are gone. If business does not benefit the community that houses it, then such a business should not exist at all. As a continental body, Maat-ECG Africa can be beneficial to us in aiding us to create a unique African presence and footprint.

by Farai Mandaza, Maat-ECG South Africa