Socially aware businesses can eradicate poverty

Socially aware businesses can eradicate poverty

By Rod Myer
The Age

BUSINESS coach Roger Hamilton believes the power of business for positive change in the world is underestimated.

In 2002, the United Nations Millennium Declaration proposed to halve world poverty from its 1990 level by 2015 and end it by 2025. ‘Many people think that’s difficult or impossible,’ said Mr Hamilton, founder of the Asia-Pacific business networking group The XL Results Foundation, based in Singapore. ‘But 150 years ago they thought you could never end poverty in Europe.

‘Just three years later, one country had achieved its target. China had cut the number of people living in poverty from 300 million in 1990 to 150 million in 2005. And they did it with no rock stars, no politicians and no debt relief.

‘Entrepreneurs went out to make more money and took the whole economy up with them. That’s the equivalent of taking 1 million people per week out of poverty for three years, but whoever heard of it?’

Mr Hamilton has lived most of his life in the Asia-Pacific region, and says his XL Results Foundation has developed a strategy for harnessing business to end poverty there. It runs off the acronym EEEE — effective giving, education, enterprise and environment.

Mr Hamilton’s business is all about personal wealth creation. His XL Results Foundation runs seminars and workshops throughout the region on creating and managing personal wealth, building networks and entrepreneurship, and finding suitable business partners.

His formula for ending poverty is unashamedly based on enhancing personal wealth — but not for the exclusive use of the individual — with XL also educating people in social entrepreneurship (effective philanthropy and creating socially positive projects).

This month, XL launched its Social Enterprise Accreditation Program. Mr Hamilton says the requirement for accreditation is giving 10 per cent of profits to philanthropic causes.

Already more than 100 companies have agreed to sign up. This should deliver more than $US250,000($A348,000) in donations. By 2020, Mr Hamilton aims to have companies earning $US1 billion profits listed, giving $US100 million a year.

While Mr Hamilton may say he can operate without rock stars, XL Magazine, which goes to XL Results Foundation clients and members, does unashamedly look for celebrities. But celebrity support, he said, came only because of XL’s encouragement for putting back into the community.

‘We’ve featured people like (former Body Shop owner) Anita Roddick, Richard Branson, Rudy Giuliani and (former Singapore prime minister) Lee Kwan Yew,’ Mr Hamilton said. ‘People like that only give you time if they think you’re going to make a difference; not if you’re just trying to make more money.’