Tikkun Olam Through Business
You Can Improve Our World
We run businesses for various reasons; it could be to make money, to feed our family and pay the mortgage, to get a better lifestyle or simply for something to do.
How about running a business to ‘put something back in’?
How about running a business to try and improve the world?
This is a concept that I ran across recently, based upon a Jewish idea known as Tikkun Olam.
I won’t go into great details, basically as I don’t know all the details, but I heard about this concept on a business course I attended in 2020 (online of course) and then discussed it further with a Jewish friend. Tikkun Olam is based around social justice, about putting something back into the world economy, about using your resources (including money) to benefit others. The part of the concept that I have really grasped is the idea of recycling money to generate income and wealth for others, to improve their lives and in a way, to improve the world.
In another part of my life, as the Pastor of Moray Grace Fellowship, I am involved with a group of friends in funding the building and now operation of a feeding station for widows and orphans in India. There is great poverty in the rural areas where our ministry is situated with a real lack of opportunity for many people, and this is where my business and Tikkun Olam come in.
After being excited by the concept and idea of Tikkun Olam I looked for opportunities to put the ‘theory into practice’. Through the help of a local pastor in India I have funded 3 individuals and that pastor to set up small businesses, generating a small income for themselves.
Pastor Rao's wife plans to sell clothing in her village, Deborah has started a shop selling saris and clothes, Vamis has opened a shop selling bags and Samson has purchased a small shop unit in which to iron clothes and sell some groceries.
This is Deborah, with a wonderful selection of "saris and lady items". She is now selling these items in her home village, generating valuable income but also raising her self-respect by providing for her family through the work of her hands.
Here you can see Samson (on the left of the picture) standing in front of his small ironing shop along with Pastor Rao. Samson also plans to sell a small selection of groceries from his shop. He was given this piece of ground in front of a neighbours house where he can operate his business from.
And here you can see Vamsi. He is sitting in his small shop front that he now rents along with his stock of bags.
I cannot wait to get back to India to purchase a couple of his bags.
I think he looks really proud sitting in his shop, working for himself.
With my initial funding of £900 (yes, you read that correctly, just £900) the businesses are now operating and generating funds. The idea is for these people to pay back the initial funds, recycling the money with these funds staying in India to be used again starting more businesses.
My friends started these businesses recently and we have had some of the initial funding returned already so we will soon be able to fund another entrepreneur in India who just needs a wee bit of capital to get their business off the ground.
And I am delighted to say that what I am seeing is inspiring others to ‘get into’ Tikkun Olam. A friend here in Scotland, running her own business, is donating monthly so she will soon be able to sponsor someone to start their own business, and one of my clients in Singapore is donating funds at the end of each successful project we complete for me to use in my Tikkun Olam project. I also have other friends now putting their funds inot the pot.
Now, this is not an advert or request to get you involved in my work, but I hope it makes you think as to how you, through your business operations, can help improve our world!
UPDATE MARCH 2021
My good friend Annie was inspired by this project and through Pastor Rao has helped Sironami start a food business. This is another wonderful example of a small help from Scotland putting in place a huge change in India.
Here you can see Sironami, with her stall and cooking equipment, ready to provide for her family through her work. Pastor Rao helped her find the stall and equipment and complete the purchase.
And we are not finished yet.
I have some more funds, helped by some of my friends as I've said already, and along with Pastor Rao, we are hoping to start more small businesses once the conditions in India allow us.
UPDATE AUGUST 2021
We have just started another small business, with the help of Pastor Rao, and with some of the funds donated from my good friends Carol and Sean. Kalpana is starting a small grocery and food business in her home village, Jilugumaada; this is close to the town of Madhira.
In this photo you can see Kalpana with her husband Raghavulu, and (on the right) Pastor Rao. Raghavulu is not very well, so cannot perform heavy work.
The small business will provide valuable income for the family. This photo was take in their home, where they live with their two children.
FURTHER UPDATE FROM AUGUST 2021
This is such an exciting update; Kalpana and Raghavulu have started their new business. Here are some pictures taken recently that show them working in their entrprise, cooking and serving food and selling groceries at the road side.