The Agora mission statement recognizes the seamless implications of spirituality, social life and the economics of society.
Our mission is to enhance the spiritual, social and economic prosperity of developing and disadvantaged communities, both domestic and abroad, by unleashing social entrepreneurs to establish socially conscious businesses which holistically benefit those communities, create jobs, and inspire local entrepreneurs to do the same.
It makes sense to focus on an engine such as a “socially conscious business” which brings together life-values, a spiritual worldview, economic wealth creation, social justice, job creation and holistic prosperity for individuals and communities.
So, is socially conscious business a sustainable solution to issues as great as poverty, violence, and world hunger? Can it really change the world?
Socially Conscious Business: A Sustainable Solution
The Agora business model is directed toward cross cultural international business start ups. Thus there are factors to be considered beyond standard entrepreneurial strategy understood in western societies—factors such as living conditions, health care, injustices, religious freedom and education.
In communities like the ones Agora is seeking to impact, aid is the traditional means of solving their problems. But aid isn’t a sustainable solution—it will either run out, provide temporary alleviation, or in worst cases, do more harm than good.
But there is a sustainable solution, and we really do believe that solution is found in enterprise. Legitimate, for-profit businesses who are focused on the community good bring good jobs to the region, provide innovation solutions to community problems, and address social and spiritual concerns—all while increasing the region’s economic prosperity. And because they are legitimate businesses, there is no room for suspicions or accusations from the host culture about their agenda for being there.
In areas of high unemployment, injustice, poverty, and low education, businesses like these are the sustainable solution. They bring together communities in a functional social manner. They allow them to value their social traditions with dignity and stability. They provide an internal empowerment that gives way to development, improvement, and a viable future.
Often such businesses provide educational opportunities, like learning centers, schools, or trade training classes. In a non-western context, such integration of all elements of society makes total sense, unlike the segmentations and privatization so often experienced in the west. Charity, business, religion, education, society, wealth creation, and cultural values are all integrated.
Such a solution is not forever dependent on external stimulus, resources and ideology. The socially conscious business liberates the society to become its own sustainable solution. It opens the doors for more likeminded businesses to be indigenously started. The community gains ability to create its own wealth, solve its own problems, create jobs, and improve social conditions.
When aid is the solution, the community is forever dependent on aid, or worse, forever out of reach of aid. But socially conscious business helps the community lift itself out of its problems together with pride, dignity, and a brighter future.
Every man must decide whether he will
walk in the light of creative altruism
or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Not everything that claims to be socially conscious is useful and relevant. Often times well-meaning people (or businesses) act in ways they believe to be socially responsible, when actually those actions either fail to help or do more damage. I encourage you to read this article about 6 socially conscious actions that don’t actually help. Especially when dealing with the international arena—crossing barriers of culture, government, and language—we must be extremely careful to research, understand, plan, and execute actions that are actually helpful to the cause.
And if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to watch our quick explainer video on how socially conscious business trumps aid as a sustainable solution to to social problems.
*Image Credit: Royalty-free Image via Morguefile.com