25 years in jail. Five as president. Nelson Mandela’s story is one of injustice and eventual triumph of rampant racial inequality. Mandela may have destroyed the system of institutionalised racial segregation known as the Apartheid in South Africa. Yet as racial tensions following the Black Lives Matter Protests continue to sweep the globe; it becomes clear that the world still grapples with many of the same issues Mandela fought against.
Racism. Injustice. Inequality. The list goes on and expands beyond issues surrounding skin colour and race. Gender inequality. Homelessness. Health care. A lack of access to basic human rights. As we approach Mandela Day this July 18, we need to ask ourselves how these issues can still exist? And how can we take action and make an impact the same way Mandela did? Mandela saw the solution in policy change, but today’s solutions might be found elsewhere: in business.
While no list could truly encapsulate everything Nelson Mandela did during his lifetime, his actions will never be forgotten. It is this influence that continues to shape the way we live and reinforces that as individuals we can make a difference. But what about when it comes to businesses both big and small?
Businesses inspired by Nelson Mandela
In 2014, on the fifth annual celebration of Mandela Day, the United Nations asked the public to volunteer 67 minutes of their time into doing something that could benefit another. Each minute, representative of Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of public service, would serve to remind individuals of the impact they could make by taking action. Imagine if every business took 67 minutes to think about how their company could help create the world that Nelson Mandela hoped we could live in.
Throughout past celebrations of Mandela Day, the focus has been solely on the individual, on how one person can help others, but in our consumerist and contemporary society it takes more than that. This Mandela day, what if we promise to make a difference by doing business with social enterprise companies that have been inspired by Mandela himself, to bring us one step closer to a better world, by taking on the responsibility to transform our communities.
Take for instance the social enterprise business model of Benevolence Financial Group (BFG), a mortgage brokerage that challenges the status quo by envisioning a world where every action makes a difference. For every loan taken out with them, up to 50% of the company’s earnings (per loan) are invested into supporting another family in need to build their own home. They do this by using Microfinance (no interest loans) instead of handouts to solve the problem of affordable housing.
We all have the power to make a difference
Just as Mandela did, Benevolence Financial Group values a world where harmony and equal opportunities exists. The company’s founders wish to change the world by giving people the ability to take thoughtful action and make an impact. By choosing to support a service that builds a family’s home for those facing injustice, simply through a home loan; you are not only getting your dream home but furthering the missions of advocates like Mandela.
2020 has proved trying in ways unprecedented for all of us. However, if there’s anything that this year has taught us and that Mandela Day seeks to remind us, is that each of us has the power to make a difference.
It’s easy to feel like the problems we currently face are insurmountable especially when we face them on our own. But social enterprise groups are proving that it isn’t just governments and not-for-profits that can catalyse true change. Businesses like BFG are now taking a seat at the table of social change, and they aren’t going away any time soon.