Maliki, Iraq’s besieged President, has given us an example of falling down on what it means to ensure the working of Democracy. That part will come as no surprise! But what may surprise you is what Maliki forgot, which is, people have to care for something beyond themselves, not feel beholden to a power structure. Otherwise, they easily quit when the going gets rough.
In today’s New York Times story, we are reminded that when Malaki took office, he replaced all the career military generals and put only people who agreed with him close by. They were loyal to him, but nothing beyond him, either from fear, greed or desire for power. It is, therefore, no surprise that the rank and file have ‘cut and run”. Unless they can see they are fighting for something they believe it, chaos is the outcome.
In The Responsible Entrepreneur, I have a story of another nature of leader working in Afghanistan. In partnership with private funders, Shainoor Khoja and her husband, who had a strong desire to make a fundamental difference in some of the world’s most intractable trouble spots, started a business in Kabal. The Khojas were in Afghanistan to look for proactive ways to help a traumatized population come together as a nation. To do this, they and their funders believed that it would be necessary to rebuild faith in the possibility of nationhood and self-governance. They were seeking a means to make this real for the Afghan people as a practical matter in their daily lives.
Since then, Roshan, their company, has grown into the largest nonmilitary employer in Afghanistan. It sells phones and services to consumers, as well as infrastructure access to other providers. The company’s business model is based on establishing small, locally owned franchises in communities throughout the country and then using the presence of these businesses to foster self-reliance and community redevelopment. In the absence of a functioning government, this has been critical to getting Afghani communities back on their feet. It is given people something to believe in.
Shainoor Khoja aimed to grow a culture where, little by little, ordinary people believed that they could take control of their lives. At the time of this writing, Afghanistan still suffers the effects of prolonged war, but Roshan is providing an experience of a different kind of narrative of accomplishment. This is the ground on which Democracy, hopefully someday can survive.
This is the way of The Responsible Entrepreneur, bringing about significant change, by how they do business. The mission is embedded, not a side bar of the business. This story is told in ore depth in The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders and Impact Investors. To purchase, click here.