Pro Bono Work and Charity Support
1) The Munich Hilton Hotel Christmas tree on behalf of an orphanage
2) The Münchner Business Plan Wettbewerb
Bridges also encourages donating time and energy, or money, to the below, the last three of which are treated on their respective subpages:
3) Question Box to provide people in poor rural areas the power of the Internet
4) Junior Achievement (JA) for business education to young people
5) Micro-lending for people starting businesses in developing countries
6) the Gayan Book Foundation to be begun in Mumbai, India
7) Save the Elephants (its subpage is at Mission)
Brief discussions of the first four follow here.
Many successful entrepreneurs have started foundations, caritative trusts and charitable organizations – or donated enormous sums to them. Historically the Fuggers (Augsburg, Germany, as of the 15th century), Rothschilds (originally out of Frankfurt, as of the 19th century) and the U.S. Rockefellers (as of the 20th century) have made, in U.S. pecuniary terms, multi-billion dollar philanthropic contributions. Among the more notable recently founded multi-billion dollar foundations are those of computer giants Hewlett and Packard, Bill Gates, and the financiers George Soros and Warren Buffet. A goal of Bridges is also to participate in philanthropy, albeit per force with less impressive resources.
Unfortunately members of Bridges have seen countless well-intentioned initiatives, ranging from small private ones to mammoth Word Bank ones, go awry in India, Latin America and all over Africa as well. As laudatory as ambitious wide-ranging charitable projects are, they tend to be fraught with the perils of cultural clash, implementation failure, corruption, malfeasance and peculation. Sometimes their leitmotiv veritably appears to be “over-promise, under-perform.”
The world is run, one may say, by one million politicians, ten million business magnates and one hundred million bureaucrats. “The rest of us, all six billion of us, do pretty much as we are told!”1 Even from the very top of the pyramid, one cannot “save the world.” However by tackling a specific, narrowly defined problem one can, indeed, make a difference. Therefore the position of Bridges is that its coaches should endeavor to play a significant role in selected charitable initiatives, one manageable problem, one pressing need, one specific location at a time.2
1) The Munich Hilton Hotel Christmas Tree
In the lobby of the Munich Hilton there is a towering Christmas tree every year. It is decorated with cards written by children from a local orphanage. In each card a child describes a gift he would like to receive. Hotel guests peruse the cards, find one they like, purchase the gift, and leave it at reception. Hilton then organizes with the orphanage a party for the children at which the gifts are distributed.
As Bridges expands, we encourage our coaches to introduce this concept to other premier hotels in their cities of residence.
2) The Münchner Business Plan Wettbewerb www.mbpw.de
The concept of Business Plan (BP) Competitions was developed in the 1980s by M.I.T. In 1996/97 this concept was introduced to Germany by McKinsey & Company. It is supported by companies such as BMW, Deutsche Bank, and Siemens in cooperation with the Economic Ministry of Bayern. The emphasis is on student teams, but anyone may compete. Just five years after its inception more than 150 firms had been founded by participants, with over 100 million Euros invested by venture capital firms. Over 350 coaches and jurors dedicate time to helping the participants at all stages of the process.
3) The Question Box http://questionbox.org
Given the Bridges Q3 strategy methodology based on questions, the concept of the Question Box is particularly appealing to us. One brings the power of the Internet to answer questions for people in developing areas, especially poor rural communities. Many of these communities do not even have electricity, let alone computers!
The basic concept is that a person from there uses a mobile phone to telephone someone in front of a computer who immediately starts Internet research. Question Box was launched in India, followed by Uganda. Questions have ranged from critical farming issues and helping children with homework to trivia about celebrities.
Rose Shuman had the idea and developed the concept. She wrote an excellent article about its implementation: "How We Killed Our Strategy to Save Our Mission," on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, July 5th, 2011. A statement in that article every entrepreneur and manager should note who ventures into unknown markets is: "We assumed that our assumptions about user behaviors and on-the-ground realities would be wrong. We were completely correct on that front."
She is a Phi Betta Kappa3 graduate of Brown University (one of the eight Ivy League ones, the most famous of which are Yale, Harvard and Princeton.) The Question Box initiative is one from Open Mind, a non-profit company in California of which she is the founder and CEO, while also being a partner at BrightFront Group, a global consulting firm.
4) Junior Achievement www.ja.org
The non-profit organization Junior Achievement (JA) was founded in 1919 by Theodore Vail (CEO of the then telephone monopoly AT&T) with the support of Winthrop Crane, Massachusetts Senator. Its guiding force was Horace A. Moses, CEO of Strathmore Paper Company, who accepted the additional role of being JA´s Chairman in 1920, a position he was to hold for 27 years. JA began as after-school clubs for students on the East Coast of the U.S. Its focus is on financial literacy for young students (primary and secondary school) and teaching them about entrepreneurship.
The organization is active in over 100 countries. Its website states that JA volunteers are giving classes to over 9 million students a year. Look for innovation from new JAs in two of the world´s most dynamic entrepreneurial countries, China and India! JA China www.jachina.org began operations (funded by Paul C. Chou´s foundation) in four cities in 1995 and JA India in six cities 2007. (As of May 1st, 2011, the website www.jaindia.org is apparently being updated, i.e. is in an "under construction" mode.)
Treated seperately on their respective subpages are:
6) The Gayan Book Foundation
7) Save the Elephants (its subpage appears at Mission)
1 The quotation is from the international bestseller of Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram, Abacus, 2004, p. 350. (Shantaram means “Man of Peace.”) The “million ruler” statement is adapted from the original, more cynical one on the previous page, which divides the governance of the world into evil, stupid, and cowardly categories – which seems a little pessimistic, the Moloch of war and terrorism notwithstanding.
The first 500 pages of the novel recount with fascinating plangency life (including the seamy underside) in Mumbai, with 13 million residents one of the three or four largest cities in the world. In the early 1980´s Gregory Roberts was a herion addict who robbed banks to support his habit. He was covered in the Austalian press as "The Gentleman Bandit."
Eventually arrested and convicted, he soon escaped from HM Prison Pentridge, a notorious maximum security prison in Australia (since closed), to India. He established a free health clinic in the Mumbai slum where he lived, joined the local mafia, acted in a Bollywood film, learned Hindi and Marathi, and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. Captured smuggling heroin into Germany, he was extradited to Australia to complete his prison term. There he wrote his 900 page novel three times, because prison guards destroyed the first two versions.
2 In the U.S. we prefer to support charities that have met the IRS non-profit 501 (c) 3 guidelines.
3 Phi Beta Kappa is the most prestigious academic honor in the U.S. The award, a small gold key, is often affixed to one´s watch chain or worn on a lapel. The society that awards it was founded at William and Mary College in 1776. Of the 2300+ universities in the U.S. about 275 have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. Almost half (131) of the 312 U.S. Nobel Laureates are Phi Betta Kappa holders. (Wikipedia, 2010)
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