Business is not just about making profits. It’s mainly about people. The goods and services, after all, are developed and produced for the convenience and enjoyment of society.
But the quality and functions of the goods and services offered vary depending on the intent of the company manufacturing them. Some businesses simply replicate what others are doing because these are the demands of the market. But then there are the great business leaders whose revolutionary ideas have made the lives of millions better, be it through the enhancement of their products or the management of their extensive operations.
So much argument has come out on the recognition of businesses and businessmen for their contribution to society. Some demand that as companies and individuals gain too much profit, they should be giving back by donating funds to charitable causes. But some say that their work is enough as contributions to the greater good of society.
There have been debates as to who has contributed more to society—Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, although some people question even the mere identification of Jobs as a philanthropist.
Gates, a man who’s a giant in software development, is an even bigger name in philanthropy. Gates has been ranked as the world’s richest man for several years. But it is rare for people to criticize his wealth after he, together with his wife Melinda, dedicated billions of dollars to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation provides funds to several initiatives of non-government organizations around the world. The foundation is the second biggest funder of the World Health Organization, only second to the contributions of the U.S. government.
Jobs, on the other hand, was criticized for never having donated anything beyond one million dollars. Although critiques acknowledge that he might have donated anonymously. Jobs is credited to have revolutionized the use of technology to support human development. As a co-founder of Apple, he introduced the iPhone in 2007, a device that for the first time allowed users to connect to the Internet to access emails and other information. This eventually led to the revolutionary use of smartphones in many fields. Even if Apple did not develop all the programs people now enjoy, it was the first to show the potential of a cellular phone.
Efficient Public Transportation
Transportation and the state of a country’s road system are among the indicators of progress. They allow for the well-organized flow of people and goods. But an efficient transportation system is not only a matter of systematic scheduling. It is a network of operations that can include other modes of transportation such as buses, shuttles, and cabs.
For example, the extensive transportation network under the SMRT Company in Singapore includes light rail, buses, trains, and taxis. It is currently under the direction of its chief executive officer, Neo Kian Hong. Hong had been a lieutenant general and a permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defense. This says much abour Singapore’s on-the-dot public transportation. It is very expensive to buy and maintain a car in this country, but the majority of the population does not need cars anyway because of their efficient metro and buses.
Uber founders, Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, made commuting more convenient and hiring a driven car accessible and cheaper to everyone. It allows people to book cars even from areas that are not frequented by taxis. Although Uber faces several criticisms, including contributing to road congestion and security problems, it still changed the transportation industry for good.
Although not directly funding political campaigns, businessmen have also moved several social advancements by supporting initiatives of government leaders. But beyond the direct interventions in political matters, businessmen have also provided funds for social movements in their work to influence government policies and decisions.
Billionaire philanthropist George Soros has allocated funds for the founding of a university, the Central European University, that specializes in the education of the youth in politics, human rights, and governance. Soros also funded the Open Society Foundations, which gives grants to organizations and individuals worldwide working for freedom of expression, justice, and equality.
Whether businesses and businessmen are worthy of being listed among the philanthropists of the world is up to the biases of people. But it cannot be denied that to succeed, businesses have to be continuously evolving; otherwise they would become obsolete. To survive, they have to become better, and they have to be relevant and responsive to the needs of the people. Consequently, their evolution has pushed society forward.