The Begging Market

I say that innovation is everywhere. In fact, it is. Even in the Begging Market…

I do not use to write about social justice issues: I believe that the best social justice that any human being can do is by adding value to everything one does. (Un)Fortunately, something has happened to me that made me start thinking.

I was stuck in traffic. There was one guy asking for money, one guy selling Kit-kats and one selling candies. I had witnessed these guys discussing business. Yes, business. The candy guy said, “Man, it’s better to sell candies than just beg.” So I started to analyze…

The Market of Begging (Seeking Alms)

Even in begging market there is no possibility of always do the same thing. It seems cruel what I will comment on in this post, but social issues aside (if that ir even possible), we will see that in this market we have the same problem of several other markets. In it, innovation is also important.

Be it correct or not, begging means receiving money for being in a bad condition by provoking an empathic reaction from those who have to spare. Some argue that there is no way out, others argue that it is lack of social incentive. In summary, those who think they are and will ever be out of job are the ones asking for alms (whether for noble or non-noble reasons). I repeat: assessing the social issues that lead someone to ask for alms is not the goal here. We will evaluate the market of begging and alms.

There is a market for alms.

Whether one justifies it or not, there is a market for people who ask for money.

There is a need: someone needs money (a resource) for some purpose. This is the beggar, or we could call, a seller. There is a buyer, the one who donates alms.

You have a seller, you have a buyer. The what is the product? I often evaluate markets for the existence of products being exchanged. There do exist an implicit product: the beggar sells to the giver a bit of peace of mind. “You gave me alms, you did your part. Now go, your duty is fulfilled.” Those who give alms usually do it “to soften the situation,” which, in essence, is to think that “he did something for someone.” (Effective or not, it is not merit of this article to judge).[

If there is market…

Asking for alms is not something innovative. This has been around for a long time. There are biblical, Greek, and other accounts. So who enters, regardless of the motive, in the alms market, is not inventing. Do not innovate who asks for alms for their children, or worse, who uses their children to ask for alms (this is even crime, and every time you give alms to a child, you are an accomplice).

Some used a threat (I could be stealing, but I’m here begging), illness, hunger (usually near restaurants), heat (could you give me some water, you wouldn’t deny water, would you?), and even sincerity: there was a guy in New York asking for money to buy Marijuana. “Why Lie?” His banner read; I know of similar cases of asking for money to buy ale…

Money for Weed: Why lie?

There is also jugglers, jokers, overpriced food “to help” (usually chocolate)… But why do beggar solicitation strategies change? Because there is competition. And innovation is what makes one stand out from their competitors.

…there is innovation to fight competition…

Interestingly, one of the innovations in the alms sector to fight the effect of air conditioning on cars (closed windows) was the candies bags “help me because I’m working.” I explain:

With the advent of air conditioning, it became more difficult to reach the consumer and show the complicated situation in which the beggar finds himself to provoke the empathic reaction necessary for getting some money. However, by leaving the candy pack over the rear view mirror, you force the driver to look at it. This increases the chances of empathy. That helps the sale of the merchandise: “you did your part”.

Then somebody got the idea to wrap messages inside the candy package. The idea of ​​selling merchandise with overpricing for collaborative purposes is no longer news. Someone put it together and made candy packages with paper inside. With a printed message. It was no longer manual labor.

…so it’s not a small chain.

So I get to my point. Someone, regardless of the motives, left a pack of candies in my rearview mirror. There was a piece of paper, photocopied with the usual sayings. With the usual price. Candies that I did not recognize the brand. But something caught my attention: the little package.

That candy package was not rudimentary. It was very well done. Maybe made by some machine. I started to ask myself:

“Had this beggar bought machinery to make candy packs for resale at the stoplight?”

No, probably not. Someone else was making it. And he was reselling. I realized, very sadly, that the begging / alms market had become a sophisticated market, with a productive chain in which innovation was also fundamental. For a long time, it was no longer a market where one resigned himself to dignity to ask for money. As the papers themselves put it, it became a veritable market for overpriced candy selling and mind easing, that included a whole supply chain.

Still sad, I wonder: is there any measurement of performance?

But as the paper itself said, “I’m not asking, I’m working with the help of God.” And, in fact, that’s a job. So you can not just say there are alms… The alms market innovated with the sale of candy. With the juggling. With windshield cleaning; in this, not even the bucket with water these guys use anymore, they barely pass over a cloth. The service lost quality!!! Are they going to hire a consultant?

It’s a real multimarket.

For those of you who find me cold, when I analyze this, I explain: I decided to write this article when, at a traffic light, I was approached as follows: Do you want kit-kat for five? Glass cleaning? Can you spare a coin here doc, I’m hungry and sick and I have children to raise!

And YOUR market?

If even those begging for alms were forced to improve their processes and innovate, I wonder, why so many companies do not innovate or worse, walk backwards. I understand that it is the need that has forced the alms market to evolve. It is the same in any market.

It is an example for every career.

A personal point of view…

I am not oblivious to reality. I do not believe in alms, but I believe that if I try to teach everything I know and that I consider correct, I am helping society. If I can make at leat one reader a better professional, who knows what good this one is going to do in his/her career? Social responsibility is basically this: to be a productive person in society. If I come up with something that will improve people’s lives and charge an honest value for it, why not? The guy who made the candies more presentable, would he be an explorer? Or is he helping those who sell, to have a better product? That’s why I always say: add value to everything you do and you’ll be helping a bunch of people indirectly. At some point, it makes the world get a little better.

About rftafas 183 Articles
Ricardo F. Tafas Jr graduated in Electrical Engineering at UFRGS with focus on Digital Systems and achieved his Masters also in Electrical Engineering on Telecomunications Network Management. He also author of "Autodesenvolvimento para Desenvolvedores (Self-development for developers). Ricardo has +10 years experience on R&D Management and +13 years on Embedded Eystem Development. His interest lay on Applied Strategic HR, Innovation Management and Embedded Technology as a differentiator and also on High Performance Digital Systems and FPGAs. Actually, he is editor and writer for “Repositório” blog (, editorial board member at Embarcados ( and he is Management and Innovation Specialist at Repo Dinâmica - Aceleradora de Produtos.
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments