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Wednesday 6th February, 6.05pm, St Mary le Bow
JustShare lecture: "What's the good of capitalism?" with Peter Heslam
Peter Heslam, one of JustShare’s founder members, gave an inspiring talk at St Mary-le-Bow Church on 6th February 2012 in which he described how business could transform society if capitalism was founded upon spiritual capital. This, he explained, meant engaging in businesses which had value and meaning. He argued that business had a key role to play in fighting poverty but only where the businesses created wealth in the sense of well-being and the common good. Asking ourselves ‘What causes wealth?’ is, he suggested, more fruitful than ‘What causes poverty?’
Peter also called for moral and relational capital alongside spiritual capital as the key components of thriving institutions and corporations, showing how many of today’s major brands (Cadbury, Boots, WH Smiths, Unilever, Prudential, Friends Provident, Barclays) had been founded by Quakers with strong spiritual and social values. Even the etymology of the words company (cum panis, breaking bread together), corporation (corpus, body) and credit (credere, to trust) seemed to show the spiritual or social roots of business.
Peter pointed out that ‘thrift,’ seen as a rather Victorian concept now, derives from thriving or wellbeing and had played a prominent role in prosperity in the past. Perhaps it is time to reinstate the concept as an alternative to spending our way out of recession. Indeed the Bank of England had minted threepence coins in the 1930s with the thrift plant embossed upon it, as a pun to remind people to use spend with care. However, the recent financial crisis indicated how far many businesses had drifted from the disciplines of thrift and the values of spiritual capital.
Peter concluded that it is down to all of us, as individuals, to remember that capitalism is democratic – how you spend your money is like a vote. There is clearly an important role for business in combatting poverty, but only for the right sort of businesses, businesses founded on spiritual capital.
Wednesday 23rd January, 6.05pm, St Mary le Bow
JustShare lecture: "Zimbabwe's Prospects: Politics, Foreign Investment and the role of the Church" with Julius Makoni, Bishop of Manicaland, Zimbabwe
It was a real pleasure to welcome Bishop Julius Makoni, Bishop of Manicaland in Zimbabwe, who brought together his background in finance, theology and politics to explore how these different spheres are driving Zimbabwe’s future prospects. He noted that the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe would be crucial, and that the government must respect property rights if it is to secure stability, as well as foreign investment. Zimbabwe currently scores poorly on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, which meant too many investors held back. An investment charter and consistent policies were needed. As for the role of the Church, the Bishop argued that courageous Christians had a key role to play standing against cruelty and exploitation, and calling for justice and peace to prevail.
Questions from a well-engaged audience explored what roles were played by a range of actors in Zimbabwe: China, South Africa, North Korea, the Church in Zimbabwe, churches in London, microfinance, overseas aid, the historical relationship between Britain and Zimbabwe, and Christian values. Discussions continued over Fairtrade refreshments kindly sponsored by La Riojana and Harry’s Nuts.