Recently I was reading about the incredible legacy left by the Cadbury family and decided to find out more about their impact, not only as a business but as an agent for change in their community. The Cadburys business began in the early 1800s when they were able to transform cocoa from the bitter health drink of the day, into the origins of the chocolate we all know and love today. The family were trying to come up with a nutritional snack that could counter the high incidents of alcohol abuse of the day, the ruin of many poor families.

As chocolate was embraced by the people, the company exploded with growth and wealth. As soon as they were able, the Cadbury family started introducing things like….Raising the wages of their workforce, introducing the concept of Saturdays off, pensions, unemployment benefits and sickness benefits.  Even introducing free doctors and dentists for their staff as well as daily vitamins for their workforce. Even whole towns were transformed to uplift their staff. Schools and hospitals were built and families assisted to live lives of dignity. Bournville, just south of Birmingham in England is a good example of this desire to uplift people and make a genuine difference.

Their revolutionary ideas have transformed the way many companies today see corporate social responsibility.  What an incredible legacy to leave for future generations of young entrepreneurs! Mentoring entire communities! Often in life, we subconsciously rank people and businesses by their perceived wealth or income. We categorize their sense of importance by what we think they have achieved or by what their wealth status is. During this crazy COVID season, I think we should reflect on these three thoughts…

  • Life is more about what we give than what we get. – As people, our greatest sense of lasting fulfilment comes when we realise that we have made a significant positive contribution to the lives and wellbeing of others. By giving of ourselves, our time and our wealth, we seem to find our context in this world and discover our place in it.
  • Giving is not about what we have in abundance to spare, it’s about opening our eyes to the great need around us. Being open and sensitive to the plight or struggles of others. Taking the focus off ourselves and going out of our way to make life a little easier for another. Often it is giving from our own lack just because we can help. Time, money, resources, contacts, kindness, love. All these things are in desperate demand these days.  Inculcating these values into our companies not only transforms communities but in some way changes us too
  • Learn to give without motive. Expect nothing in return. This giving is by far the most rewarding. Learning to just help someone, not for what they can do for us but for the pure desire to make a difference.  No fanfare, no trumpeting our giving…just making a difference. This is true Ubuntu!

When individuals and companies begin to look for opportunities to make a real and tangible difference, not for points, recognition or accolades, but just to do what’s right. This world will become the beautiful place it’s meant to be.

Michael Puffett