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The Economy of Kindness

Accounting for value beyond the balance sheet
Chandu Magar and Vanessa Conrad

Chandu Magar and Vanessa Conrad

 

At the core of Capitalism stands the optimistic belief in prosperity. However, nowadays, our Neoliberal take on Capitalism has given this financial system a bad reputation due to the proliferation of the kind of crony capitalism that creates inequality and that forces the unprivileged into a life of unhappiness and with little chance to social mobility. It is often during these crucial moments in history that new models of business emerge in an attempt to solve the problem that previous generations have failed to address.

Social ventures are companies that are born from the intent to make a social and/or an environmental difference or to solve a problem alongside the creation of financial sustainability. Social companies believe that growth and prosperity can and should be measured beyond the goal for the accumulation of capital just for the sake of the hoarding money in the hands of only a few. This financial model must not a to be interpreted as a political statement, for that this category of business wishes’ not to duel on the pros and cons between the Capitalism versus Socialism debate, but to rather focus on the fact that at its core, social ventures believes that the creation of goods and services must be beneficial to the prosperity and progress of our society as a whole.

Our mission with KIND HUMANKIND was to create a company that generated value considering not only profitability but also the impact of our enterprise in people’s lives as well as the environmental impact on our planet. And this type of business attitude has become essential in the fight for fairer workers rights in a globalised economy. Our goal is to create a financial system that doesn’t enslave but one that empowers workers. Social ventures essentially aim at solving two of the major flaws in Capitalism. First, the systematic inclination of companies to ignore the suffering of workers and to proceed with unfair trading conditions unless legally bound not to do so. And second the disregard of companies for the preservation of our environment, also unless legally bound not to do so.

It is at this precise moment that social ventures step in and carry on with work that goes beyond profitability stepping into the role of social and environmental benefactors. Social venture solutions are on the rise due to the inflow of young entrepreneurs entering an unfair market that works only to the befit of a small group in our society, which is slowly eroding our democracies, our rights, our freedom, the worth of our money and the value of our labour. Social entrepreneurs are entering the market with the ambition to achieve more than just profit. They are after what is called the triple bottom line – one that is concerned with positive gains in profit, people and planet. Revolutionising the market with the refreshing mentality of ‘just because we can it doesn’t mean we should’. Globalisation has seen the world open up into one colossal marketplace and this exhilarating opportunity of exchange of knowledge and ideas should be exploited with the intent to create long-term value.

At KIND HUMANKIND our aim is to optimize every point of interaction to bring prosperity to the lives of every individual that gets touched by this joined effort.
We have designed a business model that places equal importance in profitably as well as in our social and environmental work from the very beginning of our operations. After our initial visit to our main factory in Kathmandu, we took the time to connect with our factory workers. We set down with them individually to hear the stories about their lives. We asked about their dreams and aspirations in an effort to figure out how we could help them turn those dreams into a reality.

That’s when we met Chandu Magar. Chandu has been working as a hand knitter at the factory for the past two years. Chandu is from a small village in the hills of the Himalayan Mountains range about a ten hours drive away from Kathmandu. She had to flee with her family to Kathmandu Valley after the civil war that broke out in 1996 and lasted until 2006 forced her out of her home. Forced into city life, she had to change from working on her land as a farmer to finding employment at hand-knitting factories in the Valley. Her husband wasn’t so lucky; he struggled to find work in Kathmandu and ended up going abroad to work as a construction migrant worker in Saudi Arabia. So, essentially Chandu has raised her two daughters as a single mother ever since he left. She says that her husband has tried to help; but that his wages are so low that it makes it hard for him to help her and the girls. What she makes at the factory is enough for her to buy food, pay her rent and to take care of the children’s school fees. During our chat, Chandu told us that her only dream was to be able to educate her daughters so that one day they could be nurses or engineers.

Social ventures measure its successes beyond the limitations of profit and loss figures in a balance sheet. So parallel to our core business of making good clothes for good people, we have decided to launch a program that uses the KIND HUMANKIND network to deliver more support and to promote the personal development of our garment workers in Nepal. With that commitment in mind, one of our co-founders was able to kick-start a program with the Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI). BHVI is not for profit organisation that works on improving the eyesight of individuals in disadvantaged communities as well as it is a cutting edge Research and Development company that workers on merging the advances of the latest technologies and optometry solutions. BHVI was able to donate used laptops that were then distributed among the factory workers. This successful program will not only improve the education of the children who will see their lives transformed by technological and Internet inclusion, but it is also a smart recycling solution to the issue of hardware waste.

It is said that attention is the purest form of love. It is our belief at KIND HUMANKIND that much improvement can be achieved if we, as consumers start to just pay more attention. So, next time you are considering making a purchase, pay attention to more than just the price tag. Pay attention to the who, the how and to the where your clothes were made. Join the economy of kindness and help us make the world we live in a better place for all of us. On our last visit to Kathmandu, we met up with Chandu again to hand her one of the laptops and hear more about the life of this incredibly brave woman.

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