In Monday’s (1/9/12) Wall Street Journal there is an article titled “Doing Good to Do Well.” Dozens of Fortune 500 companies send employees to Africa and other emerging markets to provide free consulting services to nonprofits and other organizations. The companies use the program to “scope out business opportunities in hot emerging markets.” Dow Corning, PepsiCo, FedEx, Intel, IBM and others recognize that they can add value (do good) while expanding their companies into new territory (do well).
What a great concept! The programs are expensive, but worth it to these large companies because of the good will that is generated both inside the companies and in the communities that they are helping. Among other projects, IBM produced plans to reform Kenya’s postal system and develop an eco-tourism industry in Tanzania. The IBM “volunteers” who have participated in the program remain on the job longer than their peers and the kicker is that IBM credits its program with generating about $5 million in new business so far.
These Fortune 500 companies have discovered a way to do well by doing good. Good for them. However, I wonder if there is a parallel strategy that we should consider for Christ’s Kingdom? Our intent is to do good. Is it possible for us to become better at doing good by assisting the creative risk-takers, the leaders, the entrepreneurs in the developing world? I think so.
Poverty can only be sustainably eliminated if real change happens in poor community market places. The people who can bring this change are the local entrepreneurs. If they are equipped with biblical character-based leadership training, they can be agents of real change, physical and spiritual, in the world’s hard places.
If you are interested in helping us launch an effort to enable local social and profit-minded entrepreneurs, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.