“Being intentional is crucial in building anything worthwhile,” insists Themba Mashaba, MD of StartupAFRICA magazine and the founder of Little Big Ideas. “And in the case of social justice, it is important to first have an understanding of what social justice is and what its value is,” he continues.
The term ‘social justice’ is gaining more attention and importance in the business world. As businesses become more aware of their social responsibility, there is a growing recognition that they have a role to play in promoting justice and equality. Being intentional and systematic about this in your business is key to promoting justice in your sphere of influence.
But where do you start?
“You need to have a clear understanding of what your business stands for and what it aims to achieve,” says Mashaba, whose businesses aim to provide equality in opportunities by creating platforms where startups can get to the market and advertise for free. He sees as a way to address an injustice where only those who can afford or are in certain demographic areas have access to certain information. “Looking at where our country comes from post-1994, we realise that we have to be intentional in how we operate in certain things, especially with the people in our organisation, creating platforms for those that were previously disadvantaged to get the same type of opportunities as others that may have more money or access.”
Therefore Mashaba also offers an ‘MBA Executive African Tour programme’ that focuses on creating equality in opportunities. Aspiring entrepreneurs are taken on a tour to various businesses across the continent – with the aim of providing opportunities for these entrepreneurs and young executives who lack access to business education. This is an important step in bridging the gap in knowledge and skills between different social and economic groups, creating a more equal playing field for all.
To create a just and equitable society, businesses need to commit to the values and vision of their organisation. They need to make intentional decisions that align with their commitment to creating a positive change in society, rather than just focusing on profits. Mashaba describes his decision to turn down a project that would have generated significant revenue because it didn’t align with his commitment to creating a positive change in society.
Finally, focus on systems, processes, and procedures. This plays a significant role in creating an equitable and just business environment. These tools help navigate and guide decisions, separate the organisation from the owner, and avoid getting in their own way. By implementing these systems, businesses can create a level playing field for all employees, regardless of their background or previous disadvantages.
Incorporating social justice values into your business is not only a noble pursuit, but a necessary one for creating a more equitable and just society that benefits all members of society. To achieve this, it is important to be intentional and systematic in your approach, while staying true to your values and vision. By implementing effective systems and processes, businesses can actively promote justice and equality in their sphere of influence.
Themba Mashaba is a startup entrepreneur within the media and tech space. He is the founder of startupAFRICA (a digital magazine that profiles and equips startup entrepreneurs within Africa), a founder of Little Big Ideas (an organisation that focuses on creating a platform where leaders get together to have conversations that move Africa forward). Themba is also a project manager at one of South Africa’s leading manufacturers of mining equipment.