I feel that individuals and businesses have an important role in uplifting society and fixing the problems that exist.
The discussion around social engagement is one that was traditionally reserved for discussions within church circles or not-for-profit organisations, orphanages and government corridors. While some focused on the need for social engagement in changing communities, others focused on receiving or giving social assistance (aid).
However, the narrative of social engagement has changed in recent years, and now includes innovation and sustainable solutions. It is slowly becoming a popular discussion within the circles of entrepreneurship. We have seen the rise of social entrepreneurs who are visionaries, seeing opportunities in the negative, and coming up with inventions and strategies that can solve some of South Africa’s social challenges in a sustainable and profit-generating manner.
To me, personal social engagement is not real engagement if it doesn’t involve contributing to society while simultaneously benefiting me, as I strongly believe everything starts with the individual. Whether you are a professional, a student, an entrepreneur or an ordinary person, every individual needs to be fulfilled by purpose and growth. This is why doing an internal audit is key to identifying how you, as an individual, can do your part in terms of contributing to society.
As for business, I believe it needs to take full responsibility for building the nation through social engagement. Business can help lead and shape the direction of social change. We need to have “less aid and more trade”, as many businesses give away aid to not-for-profit organisations, but are not sustainably equipping individuals or developing social innovations that can address the challenges on the continent of Africa.
After we have fed people, we need to empower them in order for them to be able to empower themselves and then become valuable contributors to society. We have a lot of challenges in South Africa and those challenges need solutions that are unique to our country and context. Social entrepreneurs need to be empowered to build organisations and companies that are socially and commercially viable, and can be scaled up while being commercial at the same time.
We need to be a socially conscious business community that empowers people. How can business support social entrepreneurship? They can provide social changemakers and entrepreneurs with the skills, funds and networks that they need to get their socially-minded business off the ground so they can tackle the complex social and economic realities of the communities within which they work.
In conclusion, as individuals and businesses, we both need to play a vital role in uplifting society and addressing societal challenges. What is important is finding alignment in what we want to achieve while uplifting communities and coming up with a strategy that works. These strategies have the potential to revolutionise social engagements for the betterment of our country, continent, and the world at large.
Mafodi is an award-winning businessman, serial entrepreneur & radio personality who has a passion for entrepreneurship, transformation, growing and financing of SME’s. He is the resident business expert for Y-FM, Business Day TV and CliffCentral. A brand influencer, green entrepreneur, property investor, consultant, brand builder and SME Growth Champion, Teboho runs a conglomerate company called TM Group with interests in consulting, infrastructure development, property development, enterprise development, and media production.