Written by Tim Connor: Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
As we look back at 2017, it is impossible to ignore the numerous humanitarian crises that continue to bluster their way across the globe. The continuing civil wars in Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Yemen are particularly devastating in their impact on human life.
From a safe distance as students in the UK, it is one thing to recognise these problems, but perhaps it is now time to identify ways, close to home, in which their callous disruptions to human life can be lessened. To do this, I believe, now is the time we truly bring the muscle of capitalism together with the conscious of philanthropy. Not through loose rhetoric and tokenism, but by synchronised, measurable and substantive efforts.
The solutions to some of the world’s most complex humanitarian problems won’t be found in the world of singularly capitalism or philanthropy. However, there is the potential promise of a third way: exploring how these two forces can combine.
From personal experience, I know for a fact that within the world of business the hunger is there. Many companies and corporations I deal with want to do more in terms of increasing their humanitarian responsibilities. This is very encouraging, as for quite some time now, I have promoted the need to progress from just giving, to substantial giving.
Shining examples can be identified; The Gates Foundation, Bill Gates personally has donated $28 billion to the foundation. Warren Buffet; the billionaire investor has just donated another 18.6 million Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway worth $3.17 billion to five different foundations. This, in fact, puts his total charitable contribution to the organizations at $27.54 billion in just over ten years. Simply, those who have benefited most in the world, from capitalist, business principles are showing that they are willing to lead the way, that capitalism and philanthropy do not have to dilute one another’s reach. The time for other business leaders, perhaps lower down the food chain to follow suit, could not be more pressing…
Tragically, there are vast statistics to be plucked from the ether that highlights the full extent of the humanitarian crisis we face. There is one, in particular, however, that troubles me most… There are currently 65.6 million displaced people on the planet. In an illuminating HuffPost UK interview, I read with a heavy heart, the Red Cross’ disaster management coordinator state that, “what is really worrying is not just the size of the numbers involved, but that this is taking part in really complex conditions where the response that aid can give is not straightforward”. In the face of such complex, nuanced challenges, the reach and economic possibility within capitalism can and must have a more significant role to play.
Philanthropic tendencies within business must continue to evolve past reactive aid donation quotas.
Fortunately, new types of philanthropists are arising that wish to provide ongoing, proactive humanitarian solutions; they don’t want just to hand over big checks, they want to grow business and the social bonds that come with it. Here, capitalism and philanthropy work in tandem providing infrastructure, employment, and long-term economic sustainability to parts of the planet that need it most.
This form of “impact investment” requires a great deal of independent thought and bravery but in the face of this growing humanitarian crisis, these words from Naveen Jain should be remembered… “True philanthropy requires a disruptive mindset, innovative thinking and a philosophy driven by entrepreneurial inspired insights”.
Tim Connor is a Entrepreneur and Philanthropist .Founding Connoco Group in 2008 from his Bedroom. He now employs more than 500 people in 9 countries.