Social Business can be a jarring concept for those who create stark distinctions between profit-making companies and charities.
Dominant thinking casts the two as different entirely, with no sensible prospect for overlap. As purpose-driven business people, we challenge that thinking.
A Social Business is a selfless business optimised to solve a humanitarian problem, like poverty. Although it absolutely has to be profit generating, the goal is not to enrich shareholders, but rather solve a human problem.
This is what 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Professor Muhammad Yunus did with microcredit in 50 countries including Bangladesh and the USA, and what Grameen Danone have done in their quest to give poor people access to nutrition.
Professor Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, father of microcredit, inventor of the Social Business model and author of the book “A World of Three Zeroes: Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment and Zero Net Carbon Emissions”.
On the 28 June 2018, me and a crazy cohort of Australian aspiring comedians (Karen James, Andrew Riis, Sam McCool and Sanjay Manaktala) had the honour of performing a comedy debate at the 8th Annual Social Business Day, in Bangalore, India on Professor Yunus’ 78th birthday.
To explore the idea of Social Business, we argued the topic:
“That Social Business is a totally crazy idea, and only someone totally crazy would start one”.
Below is my speech, argued as the 2nd speaker for the negative team, submitting that social business is in fact NOT a totally crazy idea.
Enjoy the ride, my socially-minded-capitalist-LinkedIn-buddies!
“That Social Business is a Totally Crazy Idea, and only Someone Totally Crazy would start one. Not.”
Ladies and gentlemen.
The topic we are debating is that “Social Business is a totally crazy idea, and only someone totally crazy would start one.” The affirmative team would have you believe that social business is crazy. Let me debunk that myth immediately:
SOCIAL business isn’t crazy. NORMAL business is crazy.
If we compare “normal business” with “social business” we will see that “business as usual” is HIGHLY unusual.
Let’s take for example the term “securitised debt”.
Securitised debt is when banks sell your home loan payments, back to you, for a fee. That’s right. You take out a home loan and pay it back, creating assets for the bank that they group together and sell back to the market as “residential mortgage-backed securities”.That’s a fancy way of saying “Debt so structured not even the bankers know what’s in them”.
For any other industry?? You’d call that highway robbery – and you wouldn’t just call the robbers frauds, you’d call them CRAZY.
But in the financial markets, we call them:
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– and we sell our souls to get jobs there.
We say that working at Goldman Sachs, securitising someone’s life’s savings and selling it back to them at a fee, is the destiny of the LUCKY.
And that giving low-income people microfinance without asset collateral so they can escape poverty, is the vocation of the CRAZY.
In a society crippled with this tortured logic, is it any wonder we had a Global Financial Crazy?!
If life was a virtual reality Aesop’s fable, we’d be in some next-level global-scale Emperor-has-no-clothes-caper. Yet we have the audacity to say that Social Business is a totally crazy idea?
Why would ANYONE want to solve a social problem by identifying a market problem and combining them to solve the world’s greatest problems?? That sounds CRAZY!
Well, no – ACTUALLY – a totally crazy idea would be rebranding a real-time horror story as showcase comedy debate.
Which is the artistic equivalent of what Wall Street did to junk bonds – if those instruments were a book the title would be “AAA Rated” – a grim fairy tale by the Brothers Lehman.
It is this sweeping mindset of abusive capitalism masquerading as free-will and self-determination that is truly infecting society today.
Not the heady idealism of social business.
Not the fanciful dream of a poverty-free world.
Not the crazy notion that we can have a world of three zeroes.
What’s crazy is that we can live with the human rights injuries that an ultimately broken financial system can inflict on our fellow man.
The way to fix this affliction is for all of us to stop being lazy, drop the label crazy, and spend the rest of our days here, taking social business mainstream.
You can watch the full comedy debate here: https://www.facebook.com/YunusCentre/videos/10155267268697693/