The Foundation identifies and encourages individuals who have the potential and appropriate attributes to excel as responsible entrepreneurs. Our reason for being is to develop these future change agents as responsible entrepreneurs for the the Common Good.
What is the Common Good?
There are numerous social, philosophical and political definitions of this term, however, the one that best describes this notion and which resonates with the Foundation is one which comes from the body of work of Michael Sandel, Professor at Harvard University which, in a nutshell states, “the common good means to do what is best for the community as a whole.” One could argue that this would mean different things for different people, however, for the Foundation it specifically means the inculcating of ethics and values within the Fellowship community with the firm belief that this will translate into much needed responsible entrepreneurs who will be able to create employment opportunities, improve living standards, make great strides to eliminate abject poverty and achieve a more equitable society for all. In practical terms this can be summarised by the understanding that these individuals should be in the first instance, motivated by making a difference, rather than making money. It is essential that a business makes a profit, but profit is secondary to purpose.
This might be a huge responsibility for these young future change agents to grasp, however, for Allan Gray Fellows, it needs to be embedded in the fibre of their being. Regardless of their background, degree choice or initial job choices, the overarching guiding principle for Allan Gray Fellows who will go on to fulfil the long-term vision of the Foundation, is this achievement of purpose for the Common Good. What is interesting about this approach is that it is characterised by a shift in focus from self to others, resulting in a connection to something greater than ourselves which is ultimately likely to make the endeavour far more probable to achieve success.
What does this mean for all of us as members of society who are current and future benefactors of this Common Good? We all have a responsibility to ask ourselves, that central question which should underpin all that we do as individuals and as a collective, What is my purpose for being here? It’s something we at the Foundation grapple with and it is how we attempt to approach our work on a daily basis. From what seems the most mundane task to the most complex of tasks performed, we continually ask ourselves, am I just doing a job, am I just here for my career, or am I here for a greater purpose? There is a Greek proverb which goes as follows:
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” – I would alter that slightly by saying that a society grows great when all the individuals who form part of that society plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.
This,for us as a Foundation, is the starting point of our contribution to the Common Good. We look forward to hearing about yours.