Business students at USF learn that entrepreneurship is all about opportunity: finding a common problem and creating a profitable solution. But students at USF are also pushed to engage in social impact through their work. Unfortunately, the reality beyond our campus borders is that natural and manmade disasters are seen as wealth opportunities, rather than tragedies that should be responded to swiftly and with no additional cost to the victims. As if loss of life, infrastructure, and stability is not costly enough. We at the Foghorn believe that industries that prey on such hardship should not exist the way they do; this is not an issue that can be easily dismissed by a remark about economic or constitutional freedom.
Last week, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 shook Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India and left almost 300 people dead. Unfortunately, the case in many sudden natural disasters in developing countries, transporting injured foreigners back to their countries seems to be the priority for many relief organizations opening offices in countries like Nepal and Pakistan. These foreigners with higher purchasing power are given the opportunity to pay membership fees that give their lives precedence over suffering locals. Global Rescue is an aid corporation with such a system asking for $700 in annual membership fees. Placing one life directly above another’s simply based on an individual’s ability to pay, especially in the aftermath of a natural disaster, is insultingly cruel and morally repugnant.
Unfortunately, this is not the only case where catastrophe is generating profit for companies. Europe has been dealing with an influx of refugees and there are companies running immigration centers that have taken advantage of refugees’ vulnerability by placing them in bleak, but expensive living conditions.
The way the world views opportunity and profit needs to change. When disaster strikes, the mentality should not be ‘business as usual.’ Corporations need to set aside their consistent need to turn a nice dollar and learn how they can better support those affected by the calamity and the overwhelmed relief agencies work to save and rebuild their lives. This sort of mindset begins with the education future business leaders receive in school. USF always asks us to keep one thing in mind: how can we change the world from here? Let us start with demanding accountability from those privileged enough to be able to protect and provide for those in need.