Business must first understand society, before marketing to it

Kaya FM managing director Greg Maloka challenged business to better understand the South African society that they impact. In his talk on communication that builds communities, delivered at The Trialogue Business in Society Conference 2019, Maloka shared anecdotes from his 11 years spent turning a radio station from a profit-focused business to an open space that has formed authentic and genuine relationships with its audience. His vision of an Afropolitan society drives this.

“Afropolitans are people who live in Africa, invest in Africa and love Africa. They are those people who want to see generations thrive here,” Maloka told the conference. “We must respect the people we are reaching out to,” he said. “We hired a public relations person and asked her not to do PR. We wanted the individual to genuinely tell the story of Kaya FM and the Afropolitan. This challenged us to have a genuine story and so we waited until we had one. Now we have a story to tell and it is a success story.”

However, Maloka believes a lack of racial trust in South Africa is preventing businesses and society from understanding and engaging in more meaningful ways. “The biggest elephant in the room is the trust deficit between black and white people in South Africa,” he said. “We need to cross this bridge to drive real change in our society.”

What kind of nation do we want to be?

 Maloka wants business and society to ask themselves what kind of nation we want to be. This needs to go beyond profits and self-interest. Media businesses, for example, need to better understand their role in society and take responsibility for the impact they have on society, he said. The SABC, which services 64% of South Africans, should have the same common goal as private media businesses. The question, he then raises, is how to get to these common goals and overcome our racial trust deficit.

Insurance in Diepkloof

Having grown up in Diepkloof – a part of Soweto – Maloka said that South Africans had very different contexts and that businesses should understand these better. For example, he explained how different it was living in Diepkloof compared to his current residence in a middle-class suburb.

The term ‘insurance’ did not have the same definition as that found in the Oxford Dictionary. “When your house in Diepkloof got robbed, you knew who had stolen from you and how much they were selling your items for on the next street corner. And soon enough they would return your stuff, because they were told who they had just robbed and realised they had made a big mistake.”

“In the suburbs, I also got robbed and realised I was not in the hood. My ‘insurance’ was gone,” he said. “Insurance should be advertised totally different to me than to other people.”

Broaden children’s perspective of the world

Maloka challenged corporate social responsibility practitioners for not being deliberate enough with their projects. “It is great to paint a school, buy a kid shoes and tracksuits,” he said, but “those instant gratification moments have little impact on people… They would have gotten home and then gone to bed hungry.”

Maloka believes that we should be offering children a broader perspective of the world. “Help them ‘cross the street’ and show them what is there – that is what my parents taught me,” he said. “Take a kid to a movie. Take a child from rural areas to an Apple store. Explain how life happens. Then leave them be. They will be hungry, but they will never forget – they will know there is another world out there.”

IMAGE: Greg Maloka (Managing director, Kaya FM)

Article written by Matthew le Cordeur

Photo taken by Cobus Oosthuizen


2019-05-21T17:14:55+00:00 May 10th, 2019|Business in Society 2019, Uncategorised|