The first house I went to on my last trip to Africa, there was a 79-year-old man. He’d never had electricity all his life, and he just switched on a lightbulb for the first time in his house. He had a great-grandkid in the room who was jumping up and down with excitement. He just said, “it may be too late for me”, but he had the biggest smile on his face, because he knew it was in time for his grandchildren.
As I explain in this animated video from InequalityIs.org, social justice is good for business. The more we can run businesses with a purpose, the world is a better world, and I think it ricochets back onto business.
This message is at the heart of Virgin’s purpose of changing business for good. It is also why Virgin Unite incubated The B Team, a group of global leaders working together to deliver a plan B for business that puts people and planet alongside profit.
Going back to my trip to Africa, we’ve committed to working with companies that are going to put solar onto people’s roofs who don’t have any electricity at all. If you have solar you have lights. If you have lights, the children can read and educate themselves in the evenings. If you have solar you can plug in a mobile phone and therefore you may be able to start a business one day. And these kinds of things are actually self-sustainable - it doesn’t have to be done on a charitable basis.
The businesses that really do good - like Unilever, TOMS, I like to think Virgin and many others - their brands become stronger, people identify with them better, and therefore the business itself does better.