Use the word ‘philanthro-capitalism’ and most people will probably respond with a look of confusion. In Australia at least, the term and the ideals behind it are a relatively new concept.
However, when the word is broken down, the concepts aren’t new at all; philanthropy is simply defined as private initiatives for public good, and capitalism draws on the ideals of a private enterprise, competition and free markets.
Traditionally, the field of philanthropy was dominated by the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and their billion dollar Foundations, funded by great personal wealth. And while the works they do are no doubt extraordinary in their generosity and humanity, it certainly puts the world of philanthropy out of reach for most.
However, as the new generation of socially aware entrepreneurs makes their way into the business world, there has been an evolution in the way we look at giving back, with a recent influx of businesses that not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk when it comes to having a social conscience.
Mat Jacobson is one of these new generation entrepreneurs; as the founder of the innovative new education provider Ducere he explained: “I am passionate about the power of philanthro-capitalism and its ability to positively change lives.
“I have always believed that social change could be driven through education, and the organisation that we have created allows us to drive those changes without the traditional reliance on grants and old fashioned funding models,” Jacobson said.
Comprised of two arms, Ducere is the poster child for this new form of philanthro-captialism as a fully self-funded organisation that supports a wide range of projects for public good.
There is a tertiary learning corporation, which offers business and management courses and training opportunities with the Ducere Global Leaders Faculty. This culmination of some of the world’s most talented minds in their respective fields of leadership, business and social innovation, is unique to Ducere.
Each Faculty member shares lessons in their particular areas of expertise via a series of online video interviews and in turn, gives students unprecedented access to knowledge and experience from the world’s elite.
This arm of the corporation fully funds the renowned Ducere Foundation, which is committed to a broad range of education-based initiatives in priority nations in Africa. Activities including the full-time employment of teachers, the provision of school resources and the development of a culture of reading through the Ducere Children’s Publishing House.
“We understand that the traditional notion of a passive donor handing over a cheque is no longer the accepted norm. Most people want something in return for their donation, and for philanthropy to work at its best, creating real long term change for the communities, we recognise that the exchange needs to be something more substantial than a simple emotional sell,” explained Jacobson.
“That’s where the Global Leaders Faculty and the courses we offer are so different to what’s currently in the marketplace. It allows our ‘donors’ to not only know they are contributing to real social change, but they are receiving an elite global education opportunity in return.”
This model also helps negate some of the challenges that may arise when a private enterprise supports a foundation. While one entity fully funds the other and they share clearly defined common goals, there is line of separation between the two, with separate boards managing the day-to-day governance of the organisations.
“When developing our business model, it was important we be as transparent as possible and ensure the best possible outcomes for both sides of the organisation.
“This separation not only gives us a world class governance model, it allows our teams to excel in their various functions,” said Jacobson.
Mat Jacobson and his peers are leading the way into a new face of philanthropy. Driven by a desire to make the world a better place, they are using their entrepreneurial skills, business smarts and considerable passion to create an opportunity to build an incredible social enterprise.
A young take on an old idea perhaps, but certainly Ducere and businesses like them are developing socially conscious models, steeped in values, that leave established big business in their wake.