I was all worked up - and continue to be - about the difficult situation of the boys in the warehouse, the low wages, the insane hours accepted without protest...
Life in upper management is easy. *My* life is easy...
I attended a series of meetings with Hugh Marlboro this afternoon that really got me thinking. He has two big projects in mind - one is an expansion of the Banana Empire's current operations; the other is a new venture altogether, but has the potential to create many jobs and generate significant revenues for the Province of Maptuo, as well as, obviously, for Hugh Marlboro himself.
I come out of meetings such as these invigorated, excited about the possibilities of entrepreneurism, motivated by the transformation potential on a national level of these types of projects. Then I go back to work, look at the reality of my warehouse friends, and become more of a realist.
I think the Banana Empire - along with most profit-oriented businesses (certainly those in the developing world, but I think in general) - could stand to provide better wages and more benefits (who am I kidding...ANY benefits!) to their front-line workers.
However, I clearly see the other side to this coin.
Hugh Marlboro is the largest employer of women in Mozambique outside the Government. Think about this for a minute. It is a pretty incredible statistic. He employs nearly 1,000 workers in rural areas of the country where there are painfully little job opportunities and the population has significant aid-dependence.
Thus comes the age-old development quandary: is it better to provide employment, any employment, even if it means measly wages, long hours and no benefits? Is this better than the alternatives of joblessness and destitute existance, and total dependence on foreign aid or the State (oh, wait, they are also dependent on foreign aid!) for subsistence??
I flip-flop in my evaluation of this argument on perhaps a monthly basis. Sometimes I see the clear benefits of Capitalism with a capital 'C'. How else can you ensure real accountability and efficiency in service provision? How else can you create a market that will be self-sustainable and not clogged with subsidized, unfeasible entities? On the other hand, there are the clear social downsides to this model...