My hope is that people will soon come to understand that they have to invest in people that try to make the world a better place. We cannot rely on volunteers if we want to really create change for the good of everybody.
I know—people will call it naïve, they will call it philanthropy and charity, and quite often dismiss any business idea that at it’s core has a desire to do well for others. And, yes, I do know that sustainable investments are becoming more and more important. People with the ability to influence both market and trends, are focusing on the importance of sustainability, and sometimes also the need to do good. Business is almost always a question about the bottom line and making a profit.
Although some investors see people as a value in themselves, I believe way too few are investing with their hearts rather than their wallet.
Investments are also about making money for the investors. When cynical businesses exploit people, we say it is just the price of doing business. But, if we invest in something that can make the world a better place, that is criticized for taking advantage of the situation. People need to understand that if there is not a win-win situation where the people who take all the risk, actually receive something back, they will not get involved. The world cannot function solely on volunteers. And it is good when people are put to work, they should never just receive money without doing anything.
Charity v. Investing
Why? Because charity is a short-term solution, and while a charity organization may have good intentions, it will very often not give people the opportunity to make a living for themselves. By giving away money without any strings attached, this money will quite possibly be spent, and in a very short amount of time. More importantly, it will not give people the possibility to make money to support themselves, it deprives them of their dignity to a certain extent. People find confidence and pride in being able to support themselves and their family. And as everything in this world, it is a about giving and taking. If you want to get something, you must give something.
Investing With Your Heart—In Action
I would like to tell you a story from the time I was living at Bali and I could see with my own eyes the difference you can make by giving people a chance to do the work.
There was a poor village at the other side of the island from where I was living. People were telling me how a flesh-eating bacteria had spread among the youngest children. There was a very easy remedy, a lotion that could be bought at the local pharmacy; only nobody could afford it.
One day, I saw a man and woman sitting on the side of the road with a hammer, some nails and a piece of aluminium. They were making the most beautiful patterns, creating small artefacts out of the aluminium.
Straight away I went to the local hardware store and bought several hammers, nails and a roll of aluminium. I went to the small village and told the residents that I would buy 2000 of these boxes that they would make. The entire village got engaged in working with these boxes. And with the money they made from the 2000 boxes that I bought, they could buy all the necessary lotion to rid the city of the bacteria, but also enough to buy more hammers and more aluminium. And they could afford to buy a small motorcycle so they could drive to the more touristic areas of the island.
In this way they could keep producing and selling artefacts, and they could buy farm animals that would give the villagers food. By giving them a possibility to make their own living, I contributed in changing the financial situation. But – they had to do the work, and that gave them purpose, pride and dignity.
The Risk and the Gain
As the initial investor, I was the one who took all the risk. I came back to Norway with a container full of aluminium boxes, which I then had to sell in order to keep my business going, paying my employees. Fortunately, the boxes I had bought to put the village into work, were sold. If not – that would have been a complete loss for me, and something that I could not keep on doing.
This is why people must strive to create a situation that is win-win for all the parties involved. If not, we are not able to invest in making the world a better place.
I believe we all should think about investing in people’s dignity, while searching for a way to do good. Because, in the end, people do better work if they feel that have a sense of purpose. Investing with your heart is not naïve, it might be the most reasonable thing to do, and at the same time you make sure people will keep their dignity and pride in creating work that in the end will be better for all. •