“Today for me,
Tomorrow for you”
Mona Rain, Founder
Chacaruna Teachings, Healings and Journeys

This is the first of a series of articles that we hope will help shift our current concepts of commerce and “growth at all costs”, clearly unsustainable in every aspect of its impact. You may find unfamiliar words that are from the ancient language, Quechua, of the Q’ero people of the Andes. I will define them for our purposes here, recognizing that words in Quechua have many layers of meaning.

Today I would like to introduce the concept of "ayni," which emphasizes being in right relationship with all of nature, including other human beings, and holds significance for companies who are brave enough to adopt its values. As explained by cross-cultural paqo (shaman) don Oscar Miro-Quesada, “there exists a deeply refined and intricate connection” between all elements of life, governed by this universal law of ayni. With this mutual exchange of sacred reciprocity, we maintain and honor our interconnectedness. It goes beyond the exchange of ideas and compensation because every giving is of one’s self.

Here's how adopting this concept can make a company more valuable:

Ethical and Sustainable Practices: Following the principle of Ayni naturally encourages ethical and sustainable business practices that prioritize harmony with nature and respect for all beings. Sustainability as a practice reminds one of our own Native heritage with its decision-making process that honors the next seven generations. Companies that align with these principles are perceived more positively by consumers, investors, and stakeholders who value environmental and social responsibility. This can enhance the company's reputation, attract ethically conscious customers, and differentiate it in the market.

Stakeholder Relationships: Being in right relationship with all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and communities, fosters trust, collaboration, and long-term partnerships. Companies that prioritize ayni build strong relationships based on mutual respect, fairness, and transparency, leading to increased loyalty, support, and goodwill.

Innovation and Adaptability: Deepening the practice of Ayni encourages companies to consider the broader impact of their actions on people and the planet. This holistic perspective fosters innovation by inspiring companies to develop products, services, and processes that are environmentally friendly, socially beneficial, and culturally sensitive. It also promotes adaptability by encouraging companies to respond effectively to changing societal values, market trends, and regulatory requirements.

Employee Engagement and Well-being: Companies that embrace ayni create a supportive work environment that values employees' well-being, personal growth, and sense of purpose. Employees feel more engaged, motivated, and committed when they work for a company that respects their holistic needs and contributes positively to society. This leads to higher productivity, creativity, and retention rates.

Resilience and Risk Management: Honoring the principle of right relationship promotes resilience by encouraging companies to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions and practices. Companies that prioritize right relationships with all stakeholders are better equipped to mitigate risks, address challenges, and navigate crises effectively. They anticipate and adapt to changes in the business environment while maintaining trust and credibility.

Financial Performance: While ayni is rooted in ethical and holistic principles, it also contributes to financial performance. Companies that practice ayni often experience lower costs related to employee turnover and reputational risks, while reducing their environmental impact. They may also attract impact investors and socially responsible funds, accessing capital and resources that support sustainable growth and profitability.

In summary, adopting the concept of ayni adds value to a company by promoting ethical and sustainable practices, fostering strong stakeholder relationships, driving innovation and adaptability, enhancing employee engagement and well-being, improving resilience and risk management, and contributing to long-term financial success. Embracing the principle of ayni can position a company as a responsible and valuable contributor to a thriving, interconnected ecosystem of people, nature, and business.