The impact of business on poverty and fairness
In March I went to the Faith in Business conference in Ridley Hall knowing full well I would meet extraordinary businesspeople; businessmen and women who are changing the world. I was not disappointed to hear a host of conference speakers tell us about their journeys to success and their struggles. These were businesspeople who were remarkably good at, firstly, running businesses and, secondly, using ethical principles as the foundation of their businesses. For example, they had ethical principles in their mission statements and corporate motto, they had fair and kind policies for employees, they created nurturing office cultures and they stuck with integrity in all business dealings, even if it meant losing some business.
I would like to share briefly about the 2 organisations that blew my mind away:
Richard Leftley left a very successful career in the City with the idea that something had to be done to protect poor people in developing countries. He noticed that when the poor get ill, they immediately lose their little income and it pushes them further into poverty. His idea was that if they could be insured, they would be protected. How do you insure 4 billion people, many of whom live in rural, unaccessible areas? How do you fund such a thing? Richard came up with lots of innovative solutions. It wasn’t always easy to break down barriers, to earn trust, to get funding. To cut a long story short, it has taken Richard 15 years of sheer determination, blood, sweat and tears to get to this point of success. He and his family have made tremendous sacrifices along the way. Today his international organisation insures just under 55 million people across the world with offices in Asia & Africa. They have removed many barriers that stop the poor from being insured. They have created an innovative, low barrier way to insure the poor using digitalised technology and to pay out claims with minimal administration and burden on the policy holder. They are helping the poor through business. His social impact on the world is simply unmeasurable.
For more details, look at https://microensure.com/
2. Fairbanking Foundation
We’ve all witnessed the devastating effects on the global economy of the greed of our money markets. Dodgy lending practices, unfair bank charges, complicated financial products, speculative financial trading and bank collapses needing government bailouts. It is safe to say that our banking industry needs a clean up. The regulator, the Financial Services Authority, was insufficient to avoid our 2008 financial crash. Who knows if the Financial Conduct Authority will be any better? Against this backdrop, emerges the Fairbanking Foundation, founded by Anthony Elliott OBE.
Anthony left a successful banking career in the City and is spearheading this Foundation to clean up the industry. The Foundation reviews & reports on financial products and banking practices, with a view to changing bad ones into fair ones that benefit the consumer. He’s introduced the Fairbanking Mark for products that meet these higher ethical standards. He battles with banks and the entire industry to get them to change. This is a long and windy road and it takes a special person to journey down it. Only a handful of financial products have passed the Fairbanking Foundation standards to be certified with the Fairbanking Mark. I certainly hope that more banks will get on board with this. Perhaps as customer awareness of the Fairbanking Mark grows, so will the banking industry’s appetite to change. Anthony is certainly making this world a fairer place for all.
For more information see http://fairbanking.org.uk
Capitalism has almost become a dirty word, implying the relentless pursuit of profit to the exploitation of people, nature and everything else. In its original pure meaning, it just simply means a free market where the forces of the market (ie. supply and demand) find a balance and determine things like price. It’s the misuse of the system or the greed of the users that has corrupted capitalism. It is absolutely refreshing to see businesspeople inject integrity and ethics into commerce to put the morals back into the free market. Both MicroEnsure and the Fairbanking Foundation are good examples of how businesspeople can make a tremendous positive social impact on the world. I hope we see more pioneering movements like this.
Managing Director, Little Trove