Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Social Business

You're a young professional hoping to live out your dreams. You've worked hard for your money, and you've had the good sense and discipline to save it. At some point, you think about financial growth. What are some of your options where return on investment is guaranteed?

You don't need to stretch your mind that far. As bonds, stock options in publicly traded companies come to mind, you consider for the first time what you're asking your resources to do, and what goals or missions you're choosing to facilitate, by way of extending your money and investing in these companies. What would it look like if socially minded businesses were also thriving in the ranks of Fortune 500s? What would it look like to invest in the public corporations whose work you believed in, and yet still get the social and financial rewards?

Sometimes quality matters as much as quantity, if not more. With normative investment, financial gain is the motive. Take public amenities for example, and compare by demographics. A simple search to see what types of business establishments dominate low income communities, and the quality of services offered, is an exercise that's guaranteed to change one's perspective. If unable to make real-life observations, maybe start from here. As you question the rationale behind some of these investments, you can't help but ask: would markets be profitable if more businesses would invest and cater to (meeting) higher needs? While certainly not downplaying the role of commerce in economic development, could there also be incentives to invest in the lasting social development?

In whose interest?
In an era where the emphasis is on maximizing shareholders' interests at the expense of the people whose interests these companies claimed to serve/service, what if the shift, and funds moved? Like from erecting obesity-laden food establishments in "underserved" communities to ones that really promoted the well being of the served? That just made me think deeply of the term underserved. Installing public amenities that foster systems to program success through peer development. How would the game change if that were the norm? Where mainstream investment companies, brokers, and media promoted IPOs of companies who wanted to pitch and launch conscious ideas to investors. Where these organizations were not relegated to 501(c)(3)'s as per usual but were really set up to thrive financially.

"Patient capital" will fuel and enable that kind of work, the kind that does not demand immediate financial reward. The kind of work that seeks to improve the quality of people's lives and facilitate their states of consciousness. A realist knows that money is not evil. Not only do you need money to get by, but there's also much good to do with it. Sounds so idealistic now, even though it really should not. After all, isn't it all programming?

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