When we started smartMI, we committed to a variety of things, but two non-negotiables exist and will always be an inherent part of how we do business.
Understanding the privilege of doing business in South Africa, is all about understanding the privilege of having your community's support. Without accepting and supportive communities, we will struggle to do business, and most definitely, not grow our business.
Each of the smartMI shops are situated in communities that operate in their own unique manner, have their own set of challenges, have their own cultural habits and speak their own languages.
During February, we celebrate love and find different ways of "showing it". What makes this a lovely project, is the direct involvement the Team members have, demonstrating their own passion and empathy.
This year we are visiting 2 schools for the Disabled in George and Beaufort West, we are cleaning up an area in Port Elizabeth, we are visiting 2 underprivileged Grade R schools in Dunoon and Thabong and gardening in Kroonstad! Not forgetting our Cancer Walk!
All these projects are initiated, created and put into effect by Team Members!
Over the years we have spent time with the elderly, washed the feet of the underprivileged, encouraged clients to donate blood, played games with underprivileged children and volunteered on behalf of the kitchen staff in many schools.
Each time we initiate such a project, we ask businesses in our areas to participate / donate to the benefit of the institution we are visiting. Sadly, the answers are overwhelmingly "No", "Not allowed", "Manager not here", "Not our thing", "Maybe another time".
All of these answers are valid and fair comment, as we are all the masters of our own business destinies .... but does it make sense?
Should businesses still exist in communities, without being part of those communities?
It is not about donating hundreds and thousands, but by acknowledging the people with whom you share a space .... almost like getting to know your neighbour just enough, so that you can support him/her during times of difficulty. You remember the old habit of taking some food when there is death in the family?
If we don't get to know our communities, how can we continue servicing them in a relevant manner? Isn't business always about the service you render?
Working in the LSM 1-7 market for more than 20 years, getting to know our clients, our communities and their challenges, has taught me alot about people and their appreciation for sincere gestures.
smartMI does not have a big corporate budget for CSI projects and can never compete with that. But ....
We have heart. We have passion. We have a SMART Team.
So, to each and every SMART Team member who passionately embraces every opportunity we create to make a positive impact in their community, thank you! I am proud to be part of this SMART Team.