Today is Sharpeville Day, a public holiday in South Africa that commemorates the Sharpeville massacre of March 21, 1960.

On that day, thousands of peaceful demonstrators gathered in Sharpeville [a township located south of Johnessburg] to protest against the apartheid government’s Pass Laws, which required black people to carry identification documents at all times.

In response, police opened fire on the crowd, killing 69 people and injuring hundreds more.

The Sharpeville massacre was a turning point in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and the international outrage that followed helped to galvanise the anti-apartheid movement around the world.

Today, Sharpeville Day is a day of remembrance and reflection, as well as a celebration of the hard-won human rights and freedoms that were secured through the sacrifices of those who fought against apartheid.

So what can entrepreneurs learn from Sharpville Day?

Many valuable lessons for entrepreneurs may be drawn from Sharpeville Day and the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Using business as a tool for social good is highlighted as a vital takeaway.

Many South African businesses during the apartheid era were complicit in the government’s racism and benefited from the exploitation of black workers and racist laws.

In spite of this, there were companies and business owners that opposed apartheid and used their money and power to push for change.

Many international businesses boycotted South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s to protest apartheid. Coca-Cola, General Motors, and IBM withdrew from South Africa or refused to do business here.

In the same way, entrepreneurs today may use their businesses to tackle societal issues.

By promoting diversity, inclusion, and ethical business practices, entrepreneurs may help make society more equitable and just.

Another lesson that entrepreneurs can learn from Sharpeville Day is the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. The fight against apartheid was a long and hard one that took a lot of courage, determination, and strength.

Building a business is hard, being an entrepreneur is often a tough and unpredictable journey that requires persistence, a willingness to take risks, and the ability to learn from mistakes.

At the end of the day, entrepreneurs can learn from Sharpeville Day that business isn’t just about making money, it’s also about making the world a better place.

Entrepreneurs can help make the world a more fair and equitable place for everyone if they stay true to their values, show perseverance, and work toward a better future.

Business is like a knife, in the hands of a doctor, it can save lives, but in the hands of a thug, it can end lives.

Responsible, ethical entrepreneurs can use their businesses like a surgeon using a knife. Entrepreneurs may help create a more just and equitable society by prioritising social responsibility, inclusion, and ethical business practices.

But, just as a criminal might use a knife to kill, profit-driven only businesses can harm people and society. Short-term profits over ethical practices can affect employees, customers, and the nation negatively.

Just as businesses used their power to boycott and fight apartheid, entrepreneurs today have the power to fight injustice by running their businesses in a way that promotes ethics, inclusion, and fair wages.

Sharpeville Day should be a reminder to entrepreneurs [especially black entrepreneurs] to use their businesses as a force for good.

Izwe lethu.

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