Entrepreneur: Business can be a force for good

One speaker at a Queenstown entrepreneur conference this week will be talking about how business needs to be a force for good.

The conference, organised by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, will run from February 22 to 26.

Derek Handley, a speaker at the event, told TV ONE’s Breakfast today he will give an introductory talk about a new model for capitalism.

“I think there’s a growing consciousness around the world that perhaps there is a better way, a new model in terms of what capitalism should stand for,” he said.

Handley is the co-founder of the Hyperfactory, a US-based mobile marketing firm. He said the current form of capitalism has been used for over a century, and it might be time for a change.

“I think the current recession has proved that there are some real flaws with the model – and as I said there are people around the world that are thinking about what this looks like for the future, and I’m one of those people,” Handley said.

Handley said people’s well-being is solely judged in financial terms.

“When you think about happiness and what people want, they measure it in terms of their welfare and their happiness in general,” he said.

“And in terms of happiness for a corporation or for a country, we really only have two measurements at the moment – one is profit, one is GDP – and they’re both entirely based around financial GDP.”

Need for ‘holistic viewpoint’

He has suggested that part of the problem is we are measuring welfare in the wrong way.

“There needs to be much more holistic viewpoint as to what business should stand for,” he said.

“I don’t know if there should be a happiness index, but it should stand for more than profit, it should stand for people, it should stand for the planet.

“Business needs to play a role, in a big way, to move that all forward.”

While Handley said he doubts he will convince people in Queenstown of his ideas, he said he is not alone.

“When you look back about a hundred years, Henry Ford actually said, ‘it’s thought business should be for profit, it’s not. It exists for service.’ We’re in such an incredible recession at the moment, that more and more people are actually thinking, well, that’s probably the right way forward”.

He said Marks and Spencer in the UK is an example of a company that has taken a more holistic approach to business.

“Very quickly they saw huge financial profit from it as well. I don’t know whether they did it for the profit or for the good, but it’s kind of worked out both ways.”

Handley said he is looking at dealing with his businesses in the same way, by looking at who to employ and what values the organisation has.