My Fellow Graduates If You Can’t Invest in Business, Invest in the Hearts of Needy People.

Well, I found countless number of quotes about this belief, Helping Others at Priceless Rate. To mention few ; 

You can get everything you want in life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want-Zig Zaglar

Our prime purposes in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them-Dalai Lama.

The more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you-Brian Tracy.

Its very clear that there is silver lining in every priceless cloud of helping others. However, in this article my concern is specifically to college graduates. Of course, my fellow graduates.

Since our fifth phase government came into power, it tightened its economic policy. Dr.Magufuri began his phase by reforming economy with special attention being to civil servants especially ‘ghost workers’ This exercise came with other measures at hand such as freezing promotions and as well as new employments. This affected many college graduates especially class of 2015 and 2016 whose their programs always soared direct employment such as teachers, doctors and others.

As result graduates are encouraged to start business or any form of self employment. This wave of ‘Kijana Jiajiri’ is advocated by politicians, social activists, philanthropists, experienced entrepreneurs and many others. Graduates are inspired to become their own  Boss. 

Yet, despite such good advice that makes a young graduate to be free financially, voices of ‘no capital’ have become greater than the advice itself. So it has become like ‘acceptable excuse’ that motivate someone to remain idle waiting for job opportunity or capital. Other excuses include lack of business experience, network, entrepreneurship skills and poor government support. Its fine. 

But my argument here  is not about whether those excuses are right or not, I aimed to encourage altenative way to success, it can be completely altenative or as approach to solve those excuses.

As we’ve graduated with different ranges of skills and knowledges that are transferable. We’ve potential to devote our skills to the people in needy. Our communities are faced by many problems that range from lack of education in various fields such as climate change, sustainable agriculture, business writeups, business consultation, legal education, ICT, sustainable environmental and natural resources management to disadvantaged orphans, children and disableds. All these can be utilised as opportunities to demostrate your ability and competence, thereby broadens your chance to earn what you’re seeking for including high paid jobs, capital, networking and valuable experiences. 

Volunteering is Important and Starting from Zero Pays.

I was born in early 1990’s in one of small village allocated in Western Usambara, Lushoto District Tanga. I’m coming from peasant family and my father died when I was seven years of age. So I was mostly raised under single parental care, my mother always fought to ensure that she deliver good upbringing to her seven children including me. We earned our living by selling firewoods, milk and some food crops such as beans. I also saw my brothers engeging in manual temporary jobs. Initially it was very difficult to imagine how can I get out and find my way to higher education. Finally, God is Good. I was fortunate to start my primary education and remain in the formal academic pipe up to University of Dar es Salaam where pursued  B.A (Ed) in Geography and Economics. And in 2016 I graduated. Alhamdullillah ! 

Indeed to come from single parented peasant family and managed to graduated successfull, It’s Great Luck. However, unmployment as crosscutting issue also affects me. So as we’re encouraged, I have to employ myself and more specifically to start my business or any kind of legal self employment. How do I start then ! 

Of course I would like to be entrepreneur, but how do I start from ZERO ? Now here comes my approach which I recommends to my fellow graduates too.

I decided to invest in the community, using all my potentials-aspirations, values, interests, skills in helping them to care for their environment, solve their social and economic challenges and create or innovate new solutions. All these at zero price ! I believe in helping others. 

In economics, there’s monetary policy called devaluation. This is purposeful lowering value of domestic currency in terms of foreign currency. It’s main goal is to increase volume of exports demanded as domestic commodities will traded at lower price than it was before devaluation.  The same to me, I began by ‘devaluating’ my services. Making all my efforts lower than my educational qualifications.

I went back to my native village, I started working with groups of youth and women that engage in activities such as small saving unions so called vicoba.  I helps them to create formal leadership and organizational structure including having constitution and get formal recognition. I also helps them to write business/peoject proposals and other formal writeups. Overtime, currently my work has began to gain familiarity to neighbour villages and whole district. Todate, I works with many CBO’s, NGO’s that engage in various activities from business to environment. I also volunteer to works with politicians including our Member of Parliament for Lushoto Constituency and other local government leaders. Despite the fact that I help to create positive changes in my communities, there are many opportunities that target me as results of my efforts. All my priceless works has enabled me to win trust among people because I’ve invested billions of money in their hearts. I can sense bright future. I’ve began to shake hands with potential individuals and leaders. My network expands, I’m connected. I can see my access to get capital is not far that much than it was before. Its accessible. 

Yet, I’m not successful. But I’m trying to narrate my approach-my process. I know there so many guys out there who are doing better than me, who have done greater than me. Its very Interesting. This post however, is for those graduates who are still lagging behind this Investment. 

I urge you to join the movement, I urge you to devalue yourself. I urge you start investing in the hearts of people in needy. And If you find it hard to invest in their heart, invest in their environment to serve their planet. And that could be the door out to your success. 


Be the agent of change in such a way that you find it hard to imagine how the world would be without you –Halidi Daffa


Social Business in Tanzania: What It Is and What It Is Not (Part Two)

Social Business corrects all constraints of nonprofit organizations. It also fill the gap that exists within capitalism which offers free market as a room for profit-maximizing businesses only. No room for businesses that aim to achieve specific social goals.

Social Business is therefore, a kind of business that designed to meet certain social goal(s). Prof.Muhammad Yunus describe social business as “non loss and non dividend business” and he developed seven principles of social business based on his experience at Grameen Bank, a bank that he founded to make small loans to the poor people. These principles are;

  1. Business objective will be to overcome poverty, or one or more problems (such as education, health, technology access, and environment) which threaten people and society; not profit.
  2. Financial and economic sustainability.
  3. Investors get back their investment amount only.
  4. No dividend is given beyond investment money.When investment amount is paid back, company profit stays with the company for expansion and improvement.
  5. Gender sensitive and environmentally conscious.
  6. Workers earn market wage with better working conditions.
  7. ..do it with joy.

Social business model was built on the fact that a human being (entrepreneur) is not one-dimensional being who seeks to earn profit only in the market. He/she can harness the opportunity of free market to pursues other goals other than making personal profits. Social business is a business that totally dedicated to solve social and environmental problems.

Its  business organizational structure, this new business is basically the same as existing traditional for-profit companies. But it differs in objectives. Like other businesses, it employ workers, create goods or services, and provides these to customers for a price consistent with its objective. But its underlying objective-and the criterion by which it should be evaluated, is to create social benefits for those whose lives touches.

It may earn profit, but the investors who support it do not take any profit out of the company except recouping an amount equivalent to their original investment over a period of time. A social business is a company that is cause-driven rather than profit-driven, with the potential to act as a change agent in the world.

Therefore, a social business is not charity or any form nonprofit organizations that to a large extent depend on  charitable donations, foundation grants or government support to implement their programs. And in many cases, most charitable organizations, nonprofit organization and foundations  do not recover their total costs so called ‘break-even’. Social business however, is a business in every sense. It has to recover its full costs while achieving its social objective.

A social business creates products or services that provide social benefit. It pursues this goal by charging a price or fee for the products or services it creates. Its self-sustaining.

How can the products or services sold by social business create social benefits ? There are countless ways to do it, for example imagine:

  • A social business that makes small loans to the poor without collaterals.
  • A social business that manufactures and sells high-quality, nutritious food products at very low prices to a targeted market of poor and underfed children.
  • A social business that develops renewable-energy systems and sells them at reasonable prices to rural communities that otherwise can’t afford access to energy.
  • A social business that recycles and reuses garbage, sewage, and other waste products that would otherwise generate pollution in poor or politically powerless neighbourhoods.

As pointed out, any social-objective-driven project that charges a price or fee for its products or services but cannot cover its costs fully does not qualify as a social business. As long as it has to rely on subsidies and donations to cover its losses, such organization remains in the category of a Charity. But once such project achieves full cost recovery, on sustained basis, it graduates into another world of business. Only then can it be called a Social Business.

Another important way that social business differs from a charity or an NGO or a non profit group is that, social business like traditional for- profit companies, It has owners who are entitled to recoup their investments. Depending on legal requirement, in Tanzania this business can best be registered as corporation.

Yet, unlike charity or NGO or any nonprofit groups where funds given cannot be recouped, in social business investors get back their initial investment and remain the owners. Therefore, investing in social business is great deal. Once after initial investment there is no need to pump in money every year as social business is self -sustaining, self-propelling, self-perpetuating, and self-expanding.

         Kinds of Social Business

Holding ‘social goal’ as a target of any social business, Prof.Muhammad Yunus proposes two kinds of social businesses. The first is based on the description above- a non loss, non dividend business that create products and services to maximize social benefit rather than maximizing profit.

The Second type of social business aims to maximize profit but its owned by the poor or disadvantaged. In this case, the social benefit is derived from the fact that the dividends (profit distributed to owners) and equity growth produced by the business will go to benefit the poor, thereby helping them to reduce their poverty or any social ills facing them.

So you can notice that the difference between the two is, in the first type its nature of products or services that create social benefit. With the second type its ownership of a business that create social benefit.

Well, my intention is to familliarize the concept of social business among Tanzanians especially young visionary social entrepreneurs who seek for sustainable means of changing our country’s social challenges. I’m sure that there are many social businesses out there..that work to improve people’s lives. But yet, many are unaware about kind of business they are doing. Yet, the concept or business model is still young worldwide.

The model was coined officially in early 1980s by Bangradeshi university professor of economics called Prof. Muhammad Yunus who following great femine that hit Bangladesh in 1974 and killed many people, he felt emptyness of teaching elagant economic theories in the class while outside people are starving. He wanted to empower local people especially women with micro credits so that they can start their own initiatives and thereby pull themselves out poverty. Unfortunately many commercial banks do not provide loans to the poor people simply because they’ve no collaterals. After many years of trials, 1883 he founded Grammen Bank (Village Bank) porpularly known as a Banker to the Poor that advances micro credits to poor especially women without collateral, just on handshake basis. Today, Gameen Bank gives loans to over seven million people, 97% of whom are women, in over 78,000 villages in Bangladesh. And worldwide there so many Grameen-like programs established including the so called ‘Village Community Bank’ (VICOBA) in Tanzania.

Prof.Muhammad Yunus

Prof. Yunus’s Dream is total eradication of poverty from the world. Grameen Bank he claims “is a message of hope, a programme for putting poverty into a museum so that one day our children will visit and ask how we could have allowed such terrible thing to go on for so long”-Banker to the Poor.

In 2006 Prof Yunus and Grameen Bank won Nobel Peace Prize and recently, World Bank acknowledged that this Grameen business approach has allowed millions of individuals to work their way out of poverty with dignity.

Are you Inspired ? Have you read the part one of this article ?  Drop your comment bellow or write to me via Email:

daffahalidi@gmail.com

Introducing Social Business Concept in Tanzania (Part One)

References

Banker to the Poor (Muhammad Yunus & A. Jolis)

Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism (Muhammad Yunus)

Introducing Social Business Concept in Tanzania (Part One)

Hello ! Have you ever thought about any sustainable way of facing the most pressing social needs of our time ? I’m sure you did or you’re too curious to discover it. Well, throughout this article and the next I will share with you ‘the new formula for solving social problems such sustainably’-social business.

In Tanzania as in other parts of the world we’re aware of different means that developed on humantarian ground to help people from various social ills such as extreme poverty, wars, floods, hunger,malnutrition etc. We’re also familiar with efforts that are taken to improve social needs such as education, health, electricity etc.

Common means developed include formation of gaverments, multilateral insitutions (Word Bank and IMF etc ) non profit organizations (NGOs, charity etc) and the so called ‘Corparate Social Responsibility’ set by for-profit companies. All these are formed in the name of helping needy people to solve social problems such as alleviating poverty, ending hunger, increasing access to quality education, health care, infrastructure and electricity to mention few.. But to what extent has these ways succeed to create social benefit ?

Indeed, we can’t underestimate their contributions in the world. And it demand no statistics to prove this, I appreciate.!   Perhaps interesting discussion comes when measuring ‘sustainability of these means’ especially Nonprofit Organizations and For-profit Companies through their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR). Governments and Multilateral Institutions are complex means to be established and managed by indiviuduals, so I’ll leave them out in this discussion.

These organizations are important in this discussion simply because, any individual(s) or company that aim to solve some social problems will often establish nonprofit organization or foundation or any form of charity to work on it. Its obvious and for many years we’ve been built to believe so. Of course, their works are great, but here is why we need new means of creating social benefits in Tanzania-more efficient and sustainable ;

          Nonprofit Organizations

These take various forms and go under many names: not-for-profits, nongovernmental organizations(NGOs),  charitable organizations, philanthropic foundations, and so on. Many were formed on humantarian and religious reasons, that require us to devote portion of our incomes or time for those in needy.

Each year billions of money  flows to these organizations to fund different projects and progams. However, the built-in weakness of charity is that: It relies on stream of denotions provided by generous individuals, organizations and government agencies. And when these funds fall shot, the good wrks stop. According to Prof.Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and the one coined the idea of Social Business, charity is a form of trickle-down-economics ; if trickle stops so does help for the needy.

In Tanzania, currently many NGOs claim about ‘shortage of funds’ and yet some have shown signs of closure. Reasons given include Dr.Magufuri’s contractionist economic policy and fall in donor funds especially USAID following Trump’s move to cut international aids in some areas of priority.

So, funds are cut, fall short or stop at all but social problems remain unsolved. Is charity a sustainable means of solving social problems ? For all good work that nonprofits, NGOs and foundations do, they cannot be considered as sustainable means of solving the world’s social ills.

   Corporate Social Responsibility 

This is the means used by for-profit-companies to denote portion of their profits for helping society. Its taken following NGOs, social activists, and politicians’ pressure on corporations to modify their policies in regard to labour, the envieonment, product quality, pricing and fair trade. The pressure is greater to those companies that harm the society such as mining and manufacturing companies.

In Tanzania, you can find many big companies have established ‘foundations’ that works to alleviate poverty, sponsor students, build schools, health centers and so on. Its considered as social contribution of the company to the surrounding community. And this is legally framed.

However, despite the fact that the concept of CSR is built on good intentions, yet  in many occassions corporate leaders misuse the concept to produce selfish benefits for their companies. Their philosophy seems to be: Make as much money as you can, even if you exploit poor to do so-but then denote a tiny portion of the profits for social or create a foundation to do things that will promote your business interests”. And then publicize how generous you are !

In some cases, the same company that committs itself to CSR, spends 99% on money-making projects that make social problems worse.

Unfortunately, there are many corporate executives and managers who are ready to provide well-intended Corporate Social Responsibility but the structural nature of the companies hinders this. Basically these managers work for the interests of investors who own the companies. And in principle, owners or investors have only one objective: To see the monetary value of their investment grow. Thus, the managers who report to them must strive for one result: To increase the value of the company, by increasing company’s profits.

Companies that profess a belief in CSR always do so with this proviso, spoken or unspoken. In effect they’re saying , “we will do the socially responsible thing-so long as it doesn’t prevent us from making the largest possible profit” This gives the clue than regardless of CSR mission, when companies profit targets conside with social goals, undoubtly profit wins at the expense of social problems.

Therefore, both approaches ade used create social benefits but can not provide sustainble solutions to many social challenges. As result, countless number of country problems remain unsolved. Yet one dimensional entrepreneurs who seek to maximize profits claim that they are solving social need. Its true that banks make loans to bankable persons, but how about poor people with no colaterals. How can these unbankables access loan ?  Its true that many companies have developed renewable energy accessories, but at ongoing price rural households can afford to buy ? And so forth.

According to Amatya Sen, an Indian Economics Nobel Prize Winner he emphasize that creating products or services only is not enough, we must ensure access. For example, providing public transport only is not enough we must ensure that this service is accessible to all people including disabled.

And this is where the new concept of Social Business comes in.

Don’t miss out to read next part of this article.

Social Business in Tanzania: What It Is and What It Is Not (Part Two)
Thank you !