Many entrepreneurs achieve a lot while they are very young – and seem to find their way to philanthropy apparently by accident. In actual fact, the link between entrepreneurship and philanthropy is a growing trend.
The founder of Microsoft hardly needs an introduction, but he hasn’t been at the helm of that organisation for years. In 2006 he began transitioning out of Microsoft and began focusing his energies on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; his charitable enterprise is acknowledged to be the wealthiest charitable foundation in the world.Most people are unaware of how early Gates began his career in philanthropy, creating a foundation of his own in 1994, which has since merged into the BAMGF. Gates cites the influence Rockefellers’ philanthropic endeavours had in inspiring him to create his own, and how he admired the way those foundations took on social problems governments and global agencies seemed to ignore.
Dame Stephanie Shirley
A child refugee who rose to become one of the most influential businesswomen of our time, Dame Stephanie Shirley is also well known for her philanthropic work. She arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied child running from the Second World War. Founding her own IT company with just £6 in 1962, she was already a very determined lady. The organisation grew until, in the mid-1980s, Dame Shirley’s net worth was estimated at over £150 million. The woman who once bid for work under a man’s name has given away over £67 million to more than 100 charitable causes through the Shirley Foundation, and will continue to do so. She believes in ‘practical philanthropy’ and getting very involved in the organisations that receive grants from her foundation. “There’s only so much you can spend, and money that isn’t working has an obscenity about it,” she declared in 2012.
In 2006 Warren Buffet (known by many in the stock exchange game as the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ and one of the most successful investors of the last century) pledged to give away 99% of his income over his lifetime. He is proceeding to fulfil this commitment by distributing 4% per year of his Berkshire Hathaway share certificates, focussing his giving on charitable institutions that manage funds well and will ensure the best use is made of his gift.
Having become a Vice President of a Fortune 500 company at age 25, and a multi-millionaire not long after, Greg Secker achieved most of his life goals at an early age. This left him financially free to do what he chose – and he chose to make a difference. After founding Knowledge to Action, see here, and helping over 100,000 people learn to trade their way to financial freedom, Greg began looking further afield. In 2012 he started the Knowledge to Action Foundation, which aims to make a difference in the lives of children by developing leadership skills and teaching them basic money management strategies to assist them in later life. His foundation also heads out into disaster areas to help those in crisis. Most recently, KTA volunteers completed the build on new homes for those hit hardest by the typhoon in the Philippines.
Sir Tom Hunter
After the sale of his family business Sports Division, Tom Hunter went on to invest in real estate and investment company West Coast Capital. His net worth was recently reported as somewhat over £1 billion. Like his hero Andrew Carnegie, Hunter is another successful entrepreneur turned philanthropist. In 1998 he established The Hunter Foundation, which supports education and entrepreneurship in his homeland of Scotland. He is credited with the term ‘venture philanthropy’ because he believes in doing more than just handing out money; he gets actively involved in the projects he supports, mentoring many budding entrepreneurs along the way. He was awarded the Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy in 2013, an accolade that celebrates those who benefit public causes through private wealth.
Both entrepreneurship and philanthropy are about giving; giving to oneself and giving back to others. There is a definite link between the two.
Can you name any other entrepreneurs turned philanthropists? Who’s your favourite? Tell us in the Comments box below.
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