When the COVID-19 lockdown happened, some friends, volunteers, and I started Rescue Meal to provide food to healthcare workers. I started with my circle. My friend Miguel (not his real name) owned and managed a network of large cold storage distribution centers across the country. I shared our plan with him. A few days later, I got a call about a donation of 1,000 kilos of frozen meat from one of Miguel’s meat importer customers. Our volunteers distributed this meat to feeding kitchens, a home for poor teens, and a cancer center for kids.
On another day, through a friend-volunteer, a food distributor asked us to distribute 600 1-liter tetra packs of milk for the poor. The catch: expiry was in three days. We were able to distribute these to patients at the Philippine General Hospital and a center for under-privileged boys. Two weeks later, the same donor asked us to pick up 1,000 liters of milk, again for the poor. These liters were expiring soon too. Due to the lack of logistics, we missed the expiry window and the thousand liters were destroyed.
What if I had a supply chain in place? What if I worked with more volunteers who could make the connections quickly and mobilize the distribution? This was me crying over spilled milk. In the middle of this, another thought bugged me — Why so much need amid plenty?
Capitalism has uplifted lives and propelled positive progress. Self-interest has proven its worth. But, the same self-interest that fueled the success of capitalism is breaking it down. Capitalism hurts us when it breeds: a.) economic inequality, b.) anti-competitive behavior, c.) undemocratic influence of the wealthy over political power, and, d.) environmental abuse.
In free markets, there are always losers. Some recover. Still, the weakest lose most. At the bottom of the pit, they cannot do enough to survive on their own. Need amidst plenty is the result of widening economic inequality. There has been much debate about economic inequality, anti-competitive behavior, undemocratic influence of the wealthy over political power, and environmental abuse. As I limit myself to inequality, I prefer to build from strengths than from flaws, from the strengths of us business people and professionals who live a better life because of capitalism. I invite you to embody these beliefs as the seeds of a new capitalism.
1. I am a privileged steward of private property for myself and for others.
2. Untempered greed breeds hunger, illiteracy, and illness amid plenty.
3. There is no substitute for the good I myself will do.
4. I alone cannot fix the suffering but will be a catalyst for others to help those left behind.
5. Price is not my only measure of value lest I miss out on what is priceless.
If this has ignited a spark that makes you want to help, send me an e-mail. To start, we are launching Project TULAY, an initiative to tide over the homeless and jobless through this pandemic. You may donate, sign up as a remote volunteer, or refer a donor. We seek frozen/packed food and beverage for 10,000 meals.
TULAY aspires to bridge the hungry to the next day, the haves to the have-nots, and the givers and receivers to their better selves.
I don’t have all the answers, but together we will figure this out. As someone once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the MAP.
Cliff Eala is Founder and CEO of technology firm Synerbyte Ltd., and author of the book Sh*tty Places & Selfish People: 7 Rules of Engagement.