James Van der Walt

Musings by James Van der Walt

Money makes the world go round. We’ve all heard this statement in our lives and I’m sure those of us that have tried to make a difference in the world have been infuriated by this on more than one occasion. I know so many people that have such good ideas but never get to implement them in the “real” world because no matter how pure your intentions, you’re fighting basic human instinct – “I” am the most important person on the planet or “My family is all that matters”, “My community is all that matters” or “My country is all that matters”. What’s in it for me? So we curse at how unfair the world is and at how people don’t see that by just thinking about themselves they are going to kill everyone, including themselves! The earth’s problems don’t just involve you or the people close to you. It involves humanity as a whole. We are not as separate as your senses would make you believe.

A new theory. Maybe the world isn’t unfair. Maybe you’re just playing with the wrong rules. Yes the world isn’t all about me and yes I want to make a difference but I know that in order to beat the system you have to understand the system. Human nature is a force of nature. Pointing out its flaws will not make a difference. It will only make you cynical. So how do we make a real difference in the world? Not by chaining yourself to a tree that’s for sure. Sure it might reach the local papers for a day but ultimately how long can you hold back the tide? So here’s an idea, instead of fighting the tide you use it for your own goals. Business men and women have long discovered this secret. That money makes the world go round. That supply and demand are related. So in order to change the way the world works you need to play the “Game” too. But instead of doing it just to make yourself rich, you do it for compassion; for making the world a better place.

So how do you do this? Fair question, I mean if it’s so easy why don’t we see it? The answer is simple. The reason why you don’t see these companies and people making a difference is because they’re hidden in the system. They don’t stand out. They infiltrate the capitalist society disguised as normal business men and women. Once there they have the power to steer your company in such a way that it makes a difference in the world. You start a trend. More people need to be part of the system in order to make those trends and steer that massive unstoppable force that is human nature. “There is no quick fix, people!” That’s one thing you MUST understand. Writing angry letters to your government officials or going on greenpeace missions will have little to no effect. Stop trying to change the system from outside.

So here is what I propose. Many of you out there have pure intentions and really want to change the world but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you have this great idea that you know will change the world if someone would only listen and do it! So… why haven’t you done it yet? Why are you only talking about the solution and not implementing it yourself?

That’s what this website is about – To help people help themselves. To start a social businesses and initiatives in order to make a difference as well as a profit for social upliftment and not personal gain. Some of you might reel at that word, “Profit”. It’s the swear word for those who believe the system is rotten and at the root of this evil is profit. How can such an ‘evil’ force possibly be used for ‘good’? I say it’s merely a force. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s just part of human nature. And like any force it can be used for either. Sure, traditionally profit is used by those who want to engorge themselves with material things but who said that’s the only thing it’s good for?

If you were at the head of a multi-million dollar company, what would you do with all that cash? Would you buy another private jet or would you use those resources to make the world a better place for all of us? Look at how Bill Gates is now using his great wealth to create a better world for all those still suffering from malaria. Look at Chade-Meng Tan from Google. Look at the bank for the poor started by Professor Yunus. It’s profitable to do business with compassion!

Social Business is the answer. A social business is like any other profit business but all the profits are used to further it’s reach. The success of the business is measured by how much of a social impact it has and not how many dividends are being paid to the shareholders.

For a social business to work it needs 4 things:

  • A good idea
  • People
  • Resources
  • Compassion

The first is obvious. No business would work without a good idea. There needs to be a demand for whatever you’re offering. Now note that since this is a green website, the idea must be a green idea. So if your idea is to burn down government buildings (one extreme) or cut down the forest in the area (the other extreme) then please don’t post it. It has to be a green business.

Secondly and possibly most importantly, people. You might have a good idea but have no business skills or you just don’t have the technical know how to make it a reality. Maybe you just don’t have a place to host your idea. This is where the sites real power lies. Let’s say that you have a green energy idea (drawing on my own concept) but you don’t know much about electrical engineering or mechanical engineering but you know the concept is sound. So push your idea and see if there’s someone willing to help you out. Sure you might not be able to pay them for their help but if the project pans out and starts showing a profit you all get something, right? It’s important to remember that even though we’re doing these projects to help the world we still need to make a living. I’m not going to dictate the terms of the agreement. Hey who knows, maybe people will just help you for the greater good. After all these are the type of people that are drawn to these projects. Just remember that if this happens, to return the favour. Another project might pop up that needs your help.

Resources. No matter how pure your intentions or how many people support your project. You will need some resources. Now this is closely tied to point 2. People might want to help out but don’t have the time to get involved personally so money is an obvious way. This can be in the form of donations or angel investors. Again the terms of the arrangement is between the parties involved. Don’t be afraid to ask around, others might have had to go through the same process. We are here to help one another.

Compassion is the key to changing the world, putting aside your own selfish needs for the greater good. That is the one thing that makes a social business different from a normal for-profit business. Remember it’s not just putting aside your quest for money but also your quest for power and fame. Sometimes people have good intentions but they want to take all the credit and this makes them falter. To make this endeavour work you must let go of your basic human attachments. Let go of your ego. We are all sharing this world after all.