Residents of Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town gather around as a volunteer delivers food parcels to vulnerable families in the community. It is our combined responsibility to care for less fortunate citizens, says the writer. File picture: Nic Bothma/EPA-EFE
Residents of Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town gather around as a volunteer delivers food parcels to vulnerable families in the community. It is our combined responsibility to care for less fortunate citizens, says the writer. File picture: Nic Bothma/EPA-EFE

Dr Iqbal Survé: Creating worth over wealth a catalyst for systemic change

By Dr Iqbal Survé Time of article published Jun 24, 2020

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Whether by luck or design, finding oneself in the right place at the right time are just two of the factors that drive achievement. The rest lies in identifying the opportunity in the first place, along with a clearly defined vision of what one wants to realise or accomplish, and then working diligently, honestly, with a fair amount of grit, determination and a significant dose of self-belief to attain it.

In a time where business success seems difficult to imagine, given the challenging times wrought by Covid-19, holding on to self-belief may also seem like an impossible task. Yet, belief and self-worth are everything, along with a sense of belonging, and to my mind, just as important as food on the table and shelter.

Many people have lost their income and employment over these past few months. Savings, if any, are in short supply. Even though restrictions have been relaxed, it is going to take years, not months to play catch-up. Consequently, there are more people needing assistance.

Who should get this assistance, how much, what format should it take and for how long should the intervention last, are all good questions. How do those who have the funds available to help, choose? On which criteria do they base their decision as to who benefits and who doesn’t?

It is important to understand the difference between gifting company profits and gifting personal income. The former is often misconstrued for philanthropy when in reality, it is corporate social investment. Philanthropic giving on the other hand, uses personal wealth to deliver private initiatives that seek to promote the welfare of others, including people and planet.

That said, in the reality that is this day and age of suffering, I believe there is a greater responsibility than ever before for those who have the means - whether personal or corporate - to do more than just give or have their names on university buildings and the like. There is a requirement for “meaningful” investment in the present, in order for there even to be a future.

Just as philanthropy means different things to different people, so does what is meaningful giving. For me, I believe it is incumbent on all of us, whether wealthy or not to create a caring environment in which everyone has a sense of self-worth.

By empowering people to do for themselves, we can come together to literally move mountains. By giving people license to create their own solutions to their own problems, the long-term outcomes are better too, as they have been shaped and understood from source. The belief that one is capable and can have value, and that one can make a meaningful contribution to others is priceless. It can promote advancement not just for self, but everyone else - it becomes inspiring and can even have an exponential positive knock-on effect.

Dr Iqbal Survé is the chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings

Back to today. Our current reality shows the rich are getting richer and the poor are becoming poorer. To bridge the gap, there is an immediate requirement to enable as well as empower. I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to help those less fortunate than ourselves - throughout the human hierarchy - not just in giving away money but by creating opportunities, frameworks, and policies to enable income generation or sharing, and self-motivated upliftment.

It’s the classic fishing rods instead of fish approach. Hand-up not hand out.

For some though, it is a government’s responsibility to take care of its less fortunate citizens, animals, and environment. That might be true in a socialist state, but in a country like ours, where democracy is still struggling to find its feet, it becomes all our combined responsibility. This has strongly been brought home to me during these past few weeks of economic lockdown, where widespread deprivation has caused the current humanitarian crisis.

Prevention is better than cure.

There has been a marked shift in how philanthropists and corporates are giving of their funds of late. Many have become concerned by the gaping black hole that hungrily sucks up supply.

Instead, there is a move in favour of non-prescriptive models of giving where donors create and fund programmes that deliver permanent solutions to the problems of employment, access to education, food and shelter etc.

It is a paradigm that I wholeheartedly support, as impact investing that is rooted in the reality of where we find ourselves at any given moment in time, is more empowering and worthwhile and with greater potential for positive change, than the disconnected donation of distanced giving.

It is not, however, only up to those who have wealth to be part of the prevention rather than cure. It is everyone reading this today, who has the ability to believe in the value, capability and good of someone else, who can help to create worth over wealth, which will in turn provoke the systemic change that is needed in this world.

* Dr Survé is the chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings.

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