The previous model of capitalism and our economic model proposed by Milton Friedman, Adam Smith and others, told us that the one and only social responsibility of business was to use its resources to engage in activities designed to increase profits. That if you acted in your own self-interest, you will automatically do good for society.
But with nearly 7 billion people in the world, including 1 billion in Africa, that economic model has failed to address the challenges of society such as hunger, poverty, and security.
We now need leaders and companies to step up and focus on creating both economic and social value, to make money and do good, to change livelihoods as well as change lives, to create great companies while creating great environments.
Unilever has a few programs that do just that. From their hand washing program that touches the lives of 1 billion people by promoting hygiene and health while selling soap; to Shakti with some 60, 000 women in India building small businesses selling soap and promoting nutrition and health at the same time; to their one rinse product that allows you to use less water every time you wash your clothes.
This is how companies and governments create total value for themselves, their people and the environment. This is what African leaders and governments need to do.