Creating, developing and managing businesses give birth to the global economy. It's because of those three essential bricks - repeating themselves over and over - that we can build the wall of opportunities, and make them available to every citizen of the world. Ideas become projects, projects become realities, and realities adapt and evolve often taking different shapes. This is the nature of business.
Like everything in life, though, the business ideal is subject to corruption and pollution, especially when manipulated to serve and facilitate unscrupulous purposes. There are different levels of businesses out there, and recognizing their fundamental qualities is key in order to understand their true nature and the reason they're successful. I believe that a thriving business derives from three main concepts that must click in order for it to succeed: risk management, target marketing and self-sustaining philanthropy.
A project manager who doesn't analyze and assess every possible risk connected with a specific business will inevitably bring it to the ground. A sound company always formulates a balanced risk management plan capable of anticipating risks, evaluating the type of impact they can generate, and developing strategies to react to them in a way that will preserve the identity of the project.
An executive who fails to recognize the right customers for whom the business is being implemented will unavoidably disappoint his/her investors. In order for businesses to sell their products effectively, they must be aware of who their customers are. Even the most basic marketing strategy foresees identifying consumer groups as the centerpiece of its specific action plan. A solid company not only targets the people who are most likely going to purchase their goods and services, but it also saves on advertising and mailing costs, because of the greater response received from those who need their products.
Generating revenue is without a doubt crucial in business, but a firm that doesn't make the effort to give back to society will eventually lose supporters. Those companies that invest part of their revenues to improve the quality of life of others deserve particular respect and praise. I prefer the concept of "philanthropy" to "charity", as they are quite different. While charity helps relieve the pains of social problems, philanthropy tries to solve those issues at their roots. It's basically the difference between giving a hungry man a tomato, and teaching him how to grow tomatoes for himself. To this purpose, philanthropy is particularly remarkable when it can sustain itself without depending on the level of productivity that the company can generate. In that case, it would continue to exist independently from any type of economic performance.
The above concepts turn a B company into an A company. My three As for a successful company are: accomplished, admirable, and available. They distance themselves from the three Bs of a company that is unlikely to have a favorable outcome: bleak, bitter, and busy.
Film Annex, a media platform for independent film makers to showcase their work, is an A company. This status is not defined by the volume of revenue it produces or the amount of traffic it generates through the cyberspace. This is a healthy business created, developed and managed by entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and feet on the ground. With the mindset that some battles are not worth fighting, their risk management plan has allowed the site to continue to move forward without putting its ideals in dangerous waters. The recipients of the services provided by Film Annex have been clear since the very beginning, and the evolution of the company has created more targets for the its marketing strategies. But what makes Film Annex unique is the willingness to generate and implement philanthropic projects that can sustain themselves and continue to do so in the coming future. In the words of Francesco Rulli, CEO and founder of the company: "The day that Film Annex will not perform at the same level as what it's doing today, the writers and filmmakers working with the company will still move forward in their life and generate substantial return on their work and investment." A philanthropic program that is self-sustainable expects the establishment of some type of product or service that will be beneficial to all parts involved, not just the business itself. To this purpose, Film Annex is working on three fronts.
The Afghan Development Project is building Internet classrooms in 40 schools around Herat - Afghanistan's third largest city - with a huge impact on Afghanistan education. Nine schools have already benefited from this program, with thousands of Afghan girls and boys being able to connect to the World Wide Web. These young generations of Afghans are beginning their academic journey that will eventually bring them to professional achievements. Students are provided with education and technology in exchange for the value their leadership will generate. Today Film Annex is giving them the tools to build international relationships, so that tomorrow they can become successful business partners with the rest of the world.
Women's Annex is a media platform that promotes and advocates for female empowerment all over the world, with a special attention to the women in Afghanistan. Women rights in Afghanistan are violated every day, but the sorrows of the recipients of such treatment rarely make it out of the walls of their homes. This project wants to help women victims of violence and injustice denounce their perpetrators and move on with their lives. In doing so, they become role models for other women who need an escape but lack the courage. Women's Annex is designed to to give women the courage to voice and share their experiences with the rest of the world, which can be done with videos, instructional programs, and blog stories. In exchange for their contribution, they receive a monetary reward. Today Film Annex is giving them the tools to achieve personal independence, so that tomorrow they can motivate and facilitate the empowerment of other women across the globe.
Citadel of New York - a portfolio company of Film Annex - recently became 10% owner or Esteqlal Football Team, the second team in the Football Premier League in Kabul. Football – the American equivalent of soccer - is the national sport of Afghanistan, and Citadel is hoping to give the team additional motivation and logistics to emerge as the leader in the capital. Film Annex is providing these Afghan athletes with training equipment and media exposure in exchange for their passion and dedication to the game.
Thanks to companies like Film Annex, Afghanistan economy can and will rebound. By managing its risks, targeting the right markets and realizing self-sustaining philanthropic projects, Film Annex is showing that a business can become something bigger than itself, and can improve the living conditions of people on the opposite side of the planet. In this case, it's the future of Afghanistan that it's being affected.
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