Iqbal Wahhab: Customer power will make business better

Customer power can and will change businesses for the better, according to restaurateur and social entrepreneur Iqbal Wahhab.

Speaking at the Good Deals 2016 event, which was held in Birmingham on 14 and 15 November, the founder of the Cinnamon Club and Roast restaurants (pictured centre) explained why he believed "charity sucks" (the title of his new book) and how businesses could contribute to society.

"The power of the customer is now causing businesses to change their ways," he said. 

Businesses can and will do better

Wahhab pointed to Lego's recent decision to end a promotional tie-in with the Daily Mail following pressure from the Stop Funding Hate campaign which has criticised the media for stirring up anti-migrant sentiments.

He said: "This is a monumental moment...Businesses can and will do better."

He explained why he wrote Charity Sucks, a book which outlines his arguments against the concept of charity.

"Charities don't apply the same principles of success that define business," he said.

"There is no AGM to outline what you have done with your money like you would have with business. I've looked into all of this – why are we still doing charity?"

Sharing the platform during the event's "plenary provocation", chaired by Pioneers Post editor Tim West (pictured left), Nigel Kershaw, chair of the Big Issue and its sister organisation Big Issue Invest, agreed with Wahhab. The pair meet every Tuesday for what they call their "kipper and spinach club" to "plot and plan and talk", Kershaw explained. 

"Charity is an unequal relationship," said Kershaw (pictured right). "If you give, you take."

Kershaw argued that there had to be a more equal relationship between the giver and the taker, such as that demonstrated by the Big Issue. If the company didn't produce a good magazine, then the vendors wouldn't be able to sell it – there was an interdependency, he said.

  • Pioneers Post subscribers can read more about self-proclaimed "restaurateur with social meddling tendencies" Iqbal Wahhab in our Black Cab interview, published in the latest issue of Pioneers Post Quarterly. Find out more about subscriptions here.