“Development without benefits for the people is not development; it is only ‘economic development’ where by developers only think of their own interests,” said former Guatemalan President Marco Vinizio Cerezo at a forum, Trade and Investment as a Catalyst for Peace and Regional Stability, in Kuala Lumpur on December 6, 2013.
Speaking to participants from some 40 nations at the 2013 Global Peace Convention, “Unity in Diversity: Building Social Cohesion for Sustainable Peace through Universal Aspirations, Principles and Values,” the former president urged the business community to look beyond the immediate profit motive and invest in communities where they do business.
President Cerezo questioned why businesses are vulnerable to losses and failure despite the presence of well qualified employees. One cause, beyond the expected risks and uncertainties relating to the business environment, he suggested could be the decline of human values.
The former president stressed the dynamic relation between peace and stability on one hand and business and trade on the other. If the politicians and business community are concerned about profits and influence, he said, then poverty, instability, inequality and injustice will lead to social conflict.
Social conflict affects the stability of a nation and chases away business and investment. So peace is a precondition for investment which in turn fosters stability when the community benefits.
Panelist Hye-Ja Song, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wooam Corporation from Republic of Korea, said his firm has not only invested in energy efficiency business and power enhancement projects in Africa, but also has taught the consumers how to use electricity wisely. Hence, community-based economic development has been the foundation for Wooam Corporation business model in countries in Africa. This is an example for business leaders who can play a crucial role in creating win-win partnerships that promote peace, prosperity, and stability.
Dr. Manilal Chandaria, a noted Kenyan philanthropist and GPF Kenya patron, said that giving comes from a heart—and when you touch a heart, you build a relationship. So the business community should look beyond their business horizon and contribute to society.
Panelist Mr. Nwachukwa said that business and entrepreneurship require understanding, tolerance and support for the basic values shared among people throughout the globe. He added that religion generally supports those who set a goal and work to achieve it with integrity.
The panel concluded that social development begins with individual effort and through a pattern of such effort social change and progress are the outcome. Similarly, the business community through trade and investment can act as a catalyst for social progress nationally, regionally and globally.
The Global Peace Convention concludes with a Gala Banquet on December 8.