Social Value Investment

 

Investment is the key to economic development, which is a continuous process, for it is a respond to the ever-rising human wants. Investment, in the case of underdeveloped countries, of which the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was one just a few years ago, are called upon to break the shackle of the ‘vicious circle of poverty’ (VCP) and put them on the road to economic development and prosperity.

The rise of the economy through investment is, perhaps, better demonstrated in the United Arab Emirates, which has risen from a low level of economic development to a world-class economic development. The UAE is considered to be a high home for national and international investments, and private as well as public investments. For example, the recessionary ecosystem which appears to be ever haunting the business world owes to the depressed demand and investment conditions to stimulate which is an easy money/credit policy that is universally in vogue.

According to the IMF, the year 2019-2020 is likely to end in with 90 percent of the world in declined growth rates. The current great depression which began with Covid-19 in December 2019 hints the need for business firms to think of their investments in terms of social needs and values, without giving up their profit goals or objectives. There is already a thought heading to this direction— the Social Value Investment, a recent book making headlines in this field. The Social Value Investing by Howard W. Buffett, the grandson of Warren Buffett of the renowned Berkshire Hathaway, and William B. Eimicke, from Colombia University -- business icons and pride of the United States of America who continue to hold their heads high despite being buffeted by friends and foes alike. The book is a well-researched one. Utopian Entrepreneurs and business people, so to speak, live and work for profit, and then believe that there is nothing wrong or immoral with profits in business term because without profits, which are rewards or “wages” of entrepreneurship and enterprise, there won’t be any entrepreneurial or business activity and no production and delivery of goods and services.

There won’t be that "making of bread and making of wine" so to speak. These concepts are familiar since Adam Smith expounded the principles of business of prices and profits, moving the economic system in an atmosphere of letting the business alone or laissez-faire, which prioritizes the freedom of enterprise or production for profits rather than for social purposes. Smith was the father of the Industrial Revolution and Trade Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries when industrialists and traders were the ‘monarchs,’ but which cannot be the case today. So, social value investing cannot be held to be a Utopian concept that cannot take off.

Berkshire Hathaway is considered to be an example of social purpose or value investment, which is not making too much of Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett is known for simple living, high wealth creation, and philanthropy in billions of dollars. In any case, the case for social value or purpose investments is quite strong in itself and seems an investment inevitability in our uncertain and disturbed world. Social Value Investment appears to be the first condition for realizing sustainable development goals (SDGs), after MDGs. Companies consider it their best.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a different game, which many corporations do not take seriously. Hence, the decision of French President Macron to tax non-tax paying stellar MNCs. Governments, too, are not above the blame game. The golden rule of investment is not just to think of the ‘self’', but also of ‘society', to which one owes a debt of Return and not of default or write-off. SDGs would be a distant dream than their fixed time horizon which is 2015-2030.

There are rays of hope spread across the horizon in the form of the millennial start-ups, especially in India where millions of young women and men with education and well-paying jobs at home and abroad are moving into the town and villages with solutions to the problems in their country in every field, especially in its poor-paying agriculture. They worked with a 24/7/365 work schedule of farmers. There are various ventures from organic farming to the production of environment-friendly agricultural goods. In the UAE, the move is towards a Green Economy. In the field of housing, the premier iconic house of Tata’s, has a Nano housing for the poor in India. They were also makers of the common man’s Nano Car. There seems a need for Nano-tractors through Social Value Investment, with which the passage of time is sure to develop momentum.

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