The British international affairs organisation FIRST has given its 2019 Responsible Capitalism Advocacy Award to Archbishop Thabo Makgoba for his work in establishing a trust to combat poverty and promote educational skills. The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, collected the award on Archbishop Thabo’s behalf from the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, during a reception in the historic Lancaster House in London, a former royal palace.
Responsible Capitalism is an initiative of FIRST, an organisation which “aims to enhance communication between leaders in industry finance and government worldwide and to promote strategic dialogue.”
The main 2019 Award for Responsible Capitalism was presented to Guy Singh-Watson, Founder of Riverford, a company he developed to serve more than 50,000 customers a week, “maintaining throughout his core belief that organic food should be accessible to all, and in so doing setting ethical and moral standards, and waging a successful war against the over use of plastic in favour of recyclable packaging.”
The award to Archbishop Thabo was in recognition of his work to establish a family trust, the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust, “to address the key issues of poverty, inequality and unemployment which are persistent in South Africa and providing educational opportunities and nurturing skills and entrepreneurial talents that have enabled young people to prosper and, in prospering, benefit their local communities.”
He was nominated by the South African High Commissioner to the UK, Nomatemba Tambo. In a message read to the gathering by Dr Idowu-Fearon, Archbishop Thabo said he was “deeply grateful” for the honour.
“Although I do not feel deserving of the award, I humbly receive it on behalf of the many in South Africa and on our continent who suffer because these who should be speaking up are either silent or their voices are inaudible”, he said.
“If you speak to the poorest of the poor on our continent, you are likely to hear that responsible capitalism is a contradiction in terms. The poor see, touch and smell economic development around them but their lot deteriorates daily. The poor suffer most from a lack of proper sanitation and potable water, from poor education and health services, from a lack of access to land and credit and from the effects of climate change. And they often lack the tools to articulate their hearts' desires and their longing for an economic order that is just and develops everyone.
“Yet in my experience the poor are more welcoming, more generous, more forgiving and more resilient than those who have means. I like to think I have made some small contribution through my church, through a family development trust and through my involvement in what we call the courageous conversations programme, which brings together business leaders, trade unions, community leaders, faith leaders and government to wrestle together to find answers for the common good to our most burning economic and social issues.
“Despite those efforts, I nevertheless feel I do not deserve the award and I have to repent the occasions on which I have walked past the poor and the suffering, immune to their plight and to the persistence of intergenerational poverty. I urge all of you gathered here, listening to Archbishop Josiah, to spare a thought for these people and to be inspired by the examples of those who established this award and by the efforts of those who have received it in the past.”
In addition to Archbishop Thabo’s Advocacy Award, two other people received FIRST Awards at the event: Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, Chief Executive of TBC Bank, based in Tbilisi, Georgia, received his award for promoting Responsible Capitalism in Adversity; and Lourdes Maria Mena de Guerra, Founder of the El Salvador-based Lula Mena fashion chain, which supports female artisans while being committed to being eco-friendly, producing innovate handmade fair trade products, and working for the empowerment of women in at- risk areas, received the SME Dahrendorf Responsible Capitalism Award.