It's 8:15 a.m. on a busy day, and we are trying to figure out the meme stocks, the upgrades in the airlines and all of the usual fare that controls day to day trading.
And just at that moment, a press release hits: "Mastercard (MA) Foundation to deploy $1.3 billion over the next three years in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and hasten the economic recovery of the continent." The initiative will acquire vaccines for over 50 million people, support the vaccination of millions more across the continent, and help set up vaccine manufacturing in Africa.
Of course, it is dutifully read, as it should be, but in the news cycle of the day it pretty much ends there.
Mastercard, with a stock that's one of the best performers of the last 15 years, created the Mastercard Foundation through a gift of stock and the foundation, which acts independently of the company. It's now its largest shareholder. But let's make things clear, the company shares the values of the foundation and has contributed $100 million of its own capital to help stem the pandemic worldwide, most recently with beds and oxygen tanks of which there is a severe shortage.
Now, why should we care other than the goodness of our collective hearts?
First, with cash-strapped governments, business is the greatest force for social change, a phrase that Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com (CRM) , who has spent billions of his own and corporate wealth to save as many lives as possible. Hence the company's sending of a Boeing (BA) 787 filled with medical supplies in solidarity with the 4,000 employees in India who are personally doing their best to staunch the plague that's visited the world. As Marc always reminds us, "we have a responsibility as leaders to improve the state of the world not just sell more software.
Mastercard recognizes its responsibility as a leader and doesn't just want to sell credit cards.
The reverberation of this move, though, is great and while I know they are doing it, because it is right there is a sort of ethereal return on investment. When this pandemic is licked, what card will the institutions, the banks, the restaurants prefer? I bet it's going to be Mastercard.
Just as important for the future of Mastercard's business is who will come to work at Mastercard when they get out of school, any school. Younger people don't just work for money. They want to identify with their company and be proud of it. They want to meet Michael Miebach and thank this chief executive for what he has done in Africa and many other places. The bargain? Loyalty. Really smart people will choose Mastercard and stay at Mastercard, because of these actions.
Finally, Mastercard gets a seat at the world table because of donations like this. The world leaders what to know what Miebach is thinking. They want to know where they should be focused on.
In sum, they want to know more about that morning press release and what it means for a huge continent that everyone wants to get to know better, something that will never happen if they are left to abandonment, which they very might be, if it weren't for Mastercard.
My hope is that others will see this and say they want in, they want to lead, because institutions these days, traditional stalwarts, are often in disarray. But business has rarely been stronger and it is time to pony up like Mastercard, because the job of a company is not just to sell widgets, but to help make the world a cleaner, healthier, better place.