WHY VOLUNTEER

 

How will you answer America?

 

What will you do for your country?

 

Will you fight the War on Poverty?

Will you bridge the Digital Divide?

Will you fight the War on Terror?

 

Regret Analysis:  Many people want to be rich and famous; what are the costs? 

 

Once you’ve lived your life, will you wish that you gave back a little more? 

Will you wish that you joined the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or the Marine Corps?

Would you have wanted to be a volunteer fireman or a Navy SEAL? 

 

You can still be a hero. 

You can still make a substantial difference and be part of something good. 

 

The marshaling of managerial expertise and its deployment to areas where small businesses need it can result in lasting contributions that increase in value over time.

 

WHY HELP SMALL BUSINESSES?

 

If you mentor a small business, your contribution can increase the small business’ competitiveness.  The business’ sales and profits can grow.  The concrete results are increased payrolls and an increased tax base, or both. 

 

The only net job growth since the 1989 recession has been new jobs created by businesses with fewer than 20 employees in Harlem and the South Bronx.  In the same area, 75% of for-profit companies are businesses with less than five employees, which is representative of America’s urban, economically challenged areas.

 

Many businesses are isolated and only sell to the local community.  Little is exported.  Growth prospects for profits, payrolls and W-2s are dim.  You can help change this.

 

Again, in Harlem, an estimated 70% of local residents shop outside of the community due to a dearth of high quality goods and services—an estimated $1 billion in retail sales is lost. 

 

The President noted that nationally small businesses accounted for 2/3rds of job growth.

 

YOUR PROFESSIONAL CONSULTING SERVICES ARE VALUEBLE AND CAN HAVE A POSITIVE CATALYTIC IMPACT ON BOTH SMALL BUSINESSES AND IMPOVERISHED COMMUNITIES.

 

Think of the value of the professional consulting services that you can provide in person or remotely.  Guidance ranging from marketing to finance, from human resources to operations, and from supply chain management to ecommerce can make the difference.  Generally, you can offer America’s small businesses:

 

 

Transferring your knowledge and expertise will help create sustainable economic development.

 

HELP FILL A CRITICAL PRO BONO CONSULTING SERVICES NEED

 

Issue:  Type of Business Served.  Most programs, such as AmeriCorps, serve only not-for-profit businesses.

Need:  America’s small businesses are not included.  A program is needed to support for-profit small businesses, which constitute 75% of for-profit businesses in Harlem and the South Bronx.

 

Issue:  Type of Service Rendered.  Many programs focus on manual labor services and do not provide professional business services, e.g. consulting.

Need:  America’s small businesses are in need of professional consulting services, which can have a lasting multiplier effect on the local economy.  We are teaching people to fish rather than just giving them fish.

 

Issue:  Demographic Harnessed for Pro Bono Professional Services.

Need:  There is not a national organization that effectively leverages the MBA alumni demographic.  Most volunteer organizations recruit those just out of college or those who are retired. 

 

Issue:  Volunteer Program Design.  Most programs are inflexible and require greater than a year full-time commitment.  Participation in these programs by those with a family to support, loans to pay or specific professional aspirations is unrealistic.

Need:  A flexible, part-time program is needed that is low risk and allows one to give back while meeting professional and personal obligations, including paying student loans and children’s tuition.

 

Issue:  Volunteer Profile.  Generally, young volunteers are technology savvy but not business savvy, while older volunteers tend to have more business savvy.

Need:  MBA volunteers are needed who are both business savvy and technology savvy in order to increase the range and availability of services.

 

INTERNATIONALLY

 

We work to increase the competitiveness of small and medium sized businesses in emerging democracies and the developing world.  Our efforts assist in stabilizing the world by assisting in the development of free market economies and democracies.  Democracies do not start wars with one another.

 

Fighting the War on terror

 

Fighting the War on Terror is a key part of MBA Corps’ mission because our thesis is that economic development combats terrorism.  In the long run, full bellies and full employment (positive economic conditions) are some of our best weapons against Terror. 

 

Viewing the War on Terror in a foreign policy context, as opposed to a criminal prosecution, war fighting or national security context, creates an environment where the MBA Corps engages as instruments to effect significant change while promoting our nation’s foreign policy goals.  To wit, the leadership of some terrorist groups consists of the wealthy and the well educated.  However, their ability to recruit foot soldiers to carry out terror missions is rooted in the soldier’s miserable daily existence.  Such existence results from poor economic conditions.  Many potential recruits are disenfranchised and disillusioned.  They feel they have nothing to live for.  Terrorism is widely acknowledged as a product of such human conditions.  The Corps’ economic development work at the grassroots level injects counterterrorist goals into foreign policy.

 

MBA Corps can improve the economic conditions in many nations that are breeding grounds for foot soldiers of terrorism.  The Corps’ activities catalyze economic development helping launch an economy on a glide path to prosperity.  Such prosperity or the hope of prosperity is the antidote to combat the virus of despair that creates terrorist cells in developing nations.  Initiating the economic cascade that leads to the concrete result of increased pay rolls and improved quality of life is the foundation for sustained cooperation between foreign business leaders and community opinion leaders and their U.S. peers. 

 

U.S. initiatives overseas affect the resentments and motivations of those who may resort to terrorism.  The management of relations with foreign governments whose cooperation is vital to combating terrorism has major consequences for the effectiveness of the U.S. counterterrorism effort.  A basic principle of the Corps is to engender cooperation among members, businesses, and community and civic leaders.   This cooperation can enhance understanding, attenuate the vitriolic message of radical anti-U.S. groups, and, ideally, diminish the terrorists’ ability to recruit foot soldiers.  The final result will reduce the impact of terrorism on Americans.

 

In his recent book, “Terrorism and US Foreign Policy”, (Brookings Institution Press, 2001)  Paul Piller indicates that the current U.S. policy on counterterrorism has remained largely unchanged during past administrations.  Mr. Piller discloses much more, which we paraphrase and comment on below….The official tenets are as follows:

 

—Make no concessions to terrorists and strike no deals;

—Bring terrorists to justice for their crimes;

—Isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior; and

—Bolster the counterterrorist capabilities of those countries that work with the U.S. and require assistance.

 

The first three tenets are confrontational and fall under the “fight-don’t-finesse” stream of American thinking about terrorism.  The fourth tenet on counterterrorist assistance to cooperative countries is the most broad-minded as it implicitly recognizes that counterterrorism is more than confrontations, that the threat terrorism poses to non-Americans matters to the United States, and that counterterrorism efforts rely on foreign help.  This cooperation should extend beyond governments to their citizens. The Corps’ programs demonstrate an effective commitment to public diplomacy.

 

As a phenomenon of broad political and social development, terrorism is a foreign policy issue, as well as a national security issue.  The majority of terrorist acts that have damaged U.S. interests are foreign, as are most of the terrorist threats that confront the U.S. today.  During the past two decades, 78% of the Americans who died from terrorism were killed by foreign terrorists, notwithstanding the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, which, although perpetrated on American soil, were perpetrated by foreigners.

 

Counterterrorism experts have argued that terrorism is a problem to be managed, not solved, and that the U.S. should disrupt terrorist infrastructures worldwide.  While terrorist attacks are seemingly committed by an organization few in number, the reality is that there is a large infrastructure that supports these attacks.  The maintenance of such an infrastructure consists of recruitment, financing, and logistics.  All batteries should be brought to bear on terrorism including recruitment interdiction—a result of the Corps’ programs.  The current Administration is attacking the financing function.  The Corps efforts should be highlighted as a sustained, long-term initiative that combats terrorism; it is not a sporadic, knee-jerk, post-incident response. 

 

Through the Corps programs, and I underscore this for emphasis, we can undermine the belief systems that drive terrorism when we give people hope in the here and now, and improved quality of life in the near future through economic development.  We envision the strategic principle of attacking infrastructure to be part of the Corps’ mission.  This mission is reminiscent of the Strategic Bombing Campaign during World War II.  Then, the infrastructure attacked was ball bearing manufacturing capacity rather than personnel recruitment capacity.  The Corps is a key part of the long-term, strategic solution to manage terrorism.

 

Once again we credit Mr. Piller for his insightful work.  He was deputy chief of the Counterterrorist Center at the CIA and also author of Negotiating Peace (Princeton, 1983).