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Are women our saviours in a time of meltdown?

Aug 05 2018 08:07
Muzi Kuzwayo
 Muzi Kuzwayo

Muzi Kuzwayo

Villages are dying, cities are shrivelling into ghost towns.

It is time for revolution.

The global economic system is broken and has destroyed the lives of millions.

The human scaffolding of the South African economy is wilting at home, unable to breathe healthily, broken by diseases such as silicosis.

The situation is not getting any better. Millions of youth are sentenced to at least 12 years of the classroom, learning nothing but how to behave in a herd, and then sent to look for elusive jobs which they chase until their energy and self-esteem have been totally eroded.

The hyperbolic promises politicians and business make about jobs, and the rising standards of living, border on immorality.

The building block of our economic system, namely, the corporation, has changed beyond recognition. When it was owned by families, it took better care of its employees who were seen as the extension of the help, and their welfare took centre stage.

As time went, families lost control of their businesses when they pursued the flimsy philosophy of bigger is better, and begged the financial markets to help fund their rapid growth.

The real control of the business then fell to the money manager who had no long-term interest, let alone the employees who they deemed to be a cost to the business.

The corporation has become nomadic, hunting profits and gathering only debt everywhere. When it comes into a country, it first demands major tax discounts, plus many other concessions, including the right to hire and fire at its own convenience. It is not dissimilar to the contract between the farmer and his livestock. The farmer says to the goat: “I feed you, and in return I want your milk, your hair and flesh.”

Once the corporation finds cheaper labour and greener financial pastures elsewhere, it moves on. The social devastation that follows is for the locals to bear, and the financial crisis is for the governments to sort out. The gamble always pays off in favour of the corporation.

The rescuer of the villages and the dying cities will not be small business, because it is in a parasitic relationship with the big corporation. A parasite is dependent on the life of its host for sustenance. So it is always in its interest to make sure that the host survives.

The revolution that will change the status quo will be ignited by the “small woman”. No, not “small business”, which is sweet deception for the businessman who has been pushed to the margins of industrialisation.

The small woman is built for purpose, and is designed to defeat the challenges of today.

'Neither fooled nor bullied'

The “small woman” is more than a description of the physique. It is a state of mind inspired by the women I know, who raised their families single-handedly in the face of vicious gangs that terrorised their villages and neighbourhoods.

So the small woman will neither be fooled nor bullied by the corporation.

She will lead the revolution in “hub marketing”, where local businesses come together to create a hub for their products and services. The hub is based on the familiar concept of stokvel, society or ilima, where businesses in the same industry, targeting the same customers, do not see themselves as competitors, but as members of the same fraternity.

Everyone contributes equally, both financially and strategically to make sure that the individual business succeeds. They will all offer different products and services that enhance their joint value proposition, rather than repeat it.

They will then sell this to the world as equals, not as beggars.

* Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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