The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has brought new life to a long-lasting anti-racism struggle for the recreation of our failing, decadent social institutions. Preoccupied with a multitude of topics such as police brutality, mass incarceration and racial inequality, the movement echoes Martin Luther King’s (MLK) insistence that equal political rights by no means ensures socio-economic equality. The almost prophetic nature of MLK’s words is demonstrated by the fact that the wage gap between African Americans and White Americans was larger in 2016 than in 1979. Tackling inequality in all forms is of course a long-term process, however, to quote the great writer and activist James Baldwin, it is about time we ask “how much time do you want for your “progress”?” Now, with the start of the Civil Rights Movement over 60 years behind us, real, effective change is long overdue.
Here at Positive, we have witnessed how Regenerative Entrepreneurship can be a crucial element in overturning discriminatory, racially-biased systems; be it companies’ backward internal structures or predatory, post-colonial supply chains. Sprouting from the Social Enterprise movement of the 1970s, the Regenerative Business Movement has a similar evolutionary tale to that of BLM which emerged several decades after MLK and other prominent Civil Rights Leaders. We wish to highlight the shared values of Regenerative Entrepreneurship and BLM, hoping their realisation in both the economic and political sphere will pave the way for socio-economic and environmental justice.
Late-stage capitalism has failed communities all over, putting profit and growth before People, Planet and Place time and time again. From cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast to local coffee shops in London, changemaker business leaders strive to create Value-For-All and reverse the environmental and economic harm inflicted on communities by predatory multinational corporations. In the same spirit, BLM seeks to support and empower Black communities affected by racial profiling, employment discrimination, police brutality, and other symptoms of systemic racism. Without a doubt, Community Empowerment remains a strategic necessity in the anti-racist struggle as well as the Climate Crisis.
Regenerative Leaders direct their activities towards transformational change, nurturing a system which is redistributive by nature. However, in a world where the top 1% of households now own 43% of wealth, there is also recognition of the need for “Redistribution Now”. Hence, Fair Tax is a fundamental aspect of the Regenerative Economy. Here we can draw a parallel to the duality of BLM’s mission: a devotion to tackling bias and discrimination at the institutional level - an ongoing process dependent on social and systemic change; coupled with a “Redistribution Now” stance which prioritises immediate steps such as directing public funds to schools and services in deprived areas.
Radical collaboration is fundamental to Regenerative Entrepreneurship. If we want to maximise our Positive impact, we must leverage meaningful Partnerships to build supply webs which lift others up and establish a dynamic Circular Economy. BLM epitomises this value, proclaiming rightly that “cooperation and cooperative economics have been principles and survival tactics of Black communities for centuries”. They acted strongly on their words, setting up the BLM Survival Fund to offer financial assistance to those facing economic hardship from the COVID pandemic. Not to mention the ongoing collaboration with other groups such as Women for Equality and Immigration Coalition which expands their impact into other worthy causes. Without an extensive network of Partnerships, It is hard to imagine the continued success of BLM and the Regenerative Business Movement.
Regenerative Entrepreneurship is founded on the premise of “Think Global, Act Local”, opening doors for widening your impact through ethical sourcing or by forming partnerships with other changemakers. Similarly, BLM functions as a decentralised social and political movement with global presence, urging activists to “build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities''. While Regenerative Leaders are also principally preoccupied with local impact, they also maintain a global perspective by subscribing to Raworth’s Doughnut Model and Rokstrom’s Planetary Boundaries. This Glocal Approach offers the dynamism to harness the power of Collective Action while also staying grounded in the local issues facing communities.
In a global capitalist system which has its roots in slavery, colonialism and imperialism, the inherent racism is no more surprising than the consequential white supremacist ideology apparent in Western institutions. If we truly wish to create an equal and fair world, we need a combination of economic, political and social change. By putting into practice the theories, values, and philosophies of BLM and Positive Impact Community we can make that world possible.