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Navigating the Ethical Tightrope: Perspectives on Ethical Entrepreneurship

Posted on

November 29th, 2023

You go to an office and a license can’t be issued unless you pay a bribe, what do you do in that situation?

“Something that should take a week is taking six months because you refused to play ball” – Babatomiwa Adesida

Ethical entrepreneurship is the beacon that guides individuals and organisations through the intricate maze of rules, regulations, and moral considerations. In our recent X (Twitter) space, we had seasoned professionals shed light on their personal experiences, offering a nuanced understanding of what ethical entrepreneurship truly means.

Who is an entrepreneur?

Michael Ojo, founder, and CEO of Octave Incorporations, defines an entrepreneur as someone who has identified a problem around them; their community, state, etc., and they have the required skill set to solve that particular problem. With this in mind, we can then talk about how we can achieve this feat ethically.

Understanding and Adhering to Regulations: Esi's Rulebook

Esi, with her background in a tax-exempt non-profit organisation, underscores the essence of comprehending the regulatory landscape. “It’s really understanding the rules and regulations around business in general. But then also understanding the rules and regulations that pertain specifically to the type of business that you’re running. Every business has to have some type of bylaws.” Esi Kagale Agyeman Gillo has over 15 years of volunteer, administrative, programmatic, and executive-level non-profit experience and is recognised by Education 2.0 as an Outstanding Leader. She is recognised by Investopedia as the Best Primer on Building Black Wealth.

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So, for Esi, ethical entrepreneurship involves a meticulous adherence to the bylaws governing businesses, both general and industry-specific. She emphasises the need to have these rules clearly documented from the outset and consistently referred to, ensuring that businesses play by the rules. Because, according to her, a time will come when the chickens will come to roost—the consequences of neglecting ethical considerations can manifest over time. Listen to the full conversation here.

When to Start Ethical Planning

Emma Tough is a Client Impact Consultant specialising in the EdTech and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) industries. Having worked extensively with tech startups, Emma aligns with Esi's perspective. She highlights a common pitfall—businesses deferring ethical considerations, thinking, "It’s fine. We’ll get it off the ground. We will deal with this at a later stage." She introduces the concept of community engagement as an integral part of ethical entrepreneurship, emphasising that giving back should be woven into the fabric of the business, irrespective of the financial status.

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Navigating Unethical Practices in a Bribe-ridden Society

Babatomiwa is a tactical and accomplished External Relations specialist with over 19 years of cognitive experience leading local and international teams. Drawing from his experience in the oil and gas industry, he delves into the ethical dilemmas faced in the private sector. He paints a vivid picture of a scenario where licenses are contingent on bribes, forcing entrepreneurs into a moral quandary. ‘You go to an office and a license can’t be issued unless you pay a bribe, what do you do in that situation? “Something that should take a week, is taking six months because you refused to play ball” People are faced with having to pay extra for things that ordinarily, you shouldn’t be paying for. So naturally, entrepreneurs are forced to look the other way for their businesses to survive.’ Tomiwa highlights the pervasive issue of looking the other way to ensure business survival. His take is clear— “Entrepreneurship is about doing good business. And doing good business is ensuring that you make profit, but while making profit, you’re ensuring that you’re having positive business footprint on your host communities”.

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Problem-Solving and Wealth Creation

To Michael, ethical entrepreneurship is the unwavering commitment to the initial problem-solving mission. In a world where the pursuit of profit can sometimes overshadow the core purpose, Michael's perspective serves as a compass, guiding entrepreneurs to stay true to their mission. Remember, Michael Ojo is the founder and CEO of Octave Incorporations so when he asks you to jump, you ask “How high?”.

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Join the full conversation here. Do not forget to leave your comments or questions.

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