Ethics in Business: The Impact of Corruption – by Mark Arendse

Ethics in Business by Mark Arendse

(Summary of The Kingdom Summit 2015 session by Mark Arendse)


The definition of corruption according to Transparency International is ‘the abuse of entrusted power for profit or gain’. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, defines corruption as ‘the abuse of bestowed power or the position to acquire personal benefit as a result of that can be’. And the corruption can include many activities such as robbery or embezzlement.

Corruption happens when a person has been bestowed some sort of power and they utilize that same power for their own gain. It is definitely not a Christian principle. They are putting themselves before what’s good for their country, what’s good for their business, and they are making personal gain in and out of it. In June 2004, the BBC conducted a debate on how deep corruption is in Africa. The reason why I wanted to have a look at that is because some interesting comments came out of it.

  • As we grew up in Kenya, we were told stories praising the rich men who become rich by stealing public funds and the money of their employees. That’s a Kenyan.
  • Corruption is a part of every African culture. It is a way of life.
  • We have to give something, if you want things to go your way.
  • It’s a way of saying thank you.
  • I never realized that giving someone ‘a thank you token’ was actually a bribe.
  • All our leaders are birds of the same flock.

Now you can see all these people are from countries in Africa. All of them speak with the same conviction that on the one hand they see corruption as being as something that’s robbing them, robbing their country and on the other hand it is also an acceptable practice. From a Biblical point of view, it can never be an acceptable practice. And I think we need to start to understand that if we are going to be running with kingdom principles, we need to draw the line. We need to decide how we are going to run our businesses.


To give an overview of how the world sees corruption, Transparency International said they do a rating system of a 175 countries. Their writing system is based on corruption perception index - the CPI. The CPI index is used to measure the perception of corruption in government and in politics.

0/100 means you are 100% corrupt; 100/100 means you are not corrupt. In 2004, in the Transparency International 2004 ratings that was recently released, the top spot of most corrupt country was jointly held by Somalia and North Korea. The score that they managed to attain was 8/100.

The top country was from the Northern hemisphere; Denmark with a score of a 92/100. It’s interesting to note that no country was a 100%. No country is perfect since we live in a fallen world. America’s rating is 74/100. The average for sub-Saharan Africa is a 33/100; the European Union and Western Europe is 66/100. If we have a look at all of those ratings, we can understand and see that Africa is a very corrupt continent.

We live in a digital age where we are being scrutinized on an immediate time base and as a result there has been a direct link to the ethics and the value creation of a company. When we let our ethics slip, our value slips as well. Ethics has been one of the main factors that will shape the future and how people do business. Millenials regard the moral values of organizations as being the most important and would rather do business with brands they trust.


Because of the age that we are living in, capital flows into the country are being stifled because of corruption. The decision makers understand that if they don’t get it right they would be in the news, they would lose billions of dollars, their reputation would be destroyed in a couple of seconds and it would all be over - it’s a problem. So, they would rather not invest in countries where there is corruption.

So we lose capital and intellectual property. All of those people that are quoted above have left their home country and gone to countries where they can apply their trade - doctors, accountants, dentists. We are losing all of that as a result of corruption; because they cannot carry on to do what they want to do in their own countries. Corrupt activities come in a number of different ways and forms like delaying tactics etc. Corruption robs us of the ability to be able to rise up. Africa has great needs but Africa also has great potential. We have to address corruption in order to rise up and become all that Africa can be.


The interesting thing about Africa is that there are funds available to invest in Africa. Investment is not the issue. The World Bank 2014 data report says that in the developing countries of sub-Saharan Africa the Gross Domestic Product is $1.73 annually. It has a population of 973.4 million. That’s a massive market. So there is potential, there is no need for corruption. There is enough for everybody. The African continent is the fastest growing continent in the world.

So as Christian business people we need to do what is right. We need to be the light, where there is no light and we need to step up. We are the ones who needs to stop paying the fee, the success fee, the token or whatever it maybe. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 says, ‘and as for you brothers and sister (that’s all of us) never tire of what is doing right.’ That’s my challenge to all of us.

Ethics in Business by Mark Arendse


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