CONFRONTING INEQUALITY – NO POOR COUNTRIES BY 2035 – BILL GATES; & TONY ELUMELU’S REVOLUTIONARY AGENDA: One of the goals of TERRIFIC HEADLINES is to contribute to national soul-searching, given the expectations of the populace from government, create platforms for exchange of ideas and opinions, and also promote those issues that are considered ideal for the development processes. 1.2 billion people continue to live on under US$1.25 dollars a day. It has been established that inequalities in income and wealth are often compounded by inequalities in access to power, and disparities in health and education. Wherever poverty is to be combated effectively, there must be cooperation between the Government and institutions, particularly private sector operators.
NO POOR COUNTRY BY 2035: I read this and wondered if it could happen, given the state of the economy of the developing world. I noted that if it must happen, there is need for sensitization to propel attitudinal changes in Africa. Millions of people are not aware of social development programmes and how they could benefit from these. Private sector revolution is succeeding because their programmes are directed at the target population, which is why those floated by government must go back to the drawing table and be evaluated periodically. In what could be considered an interesting and almost incredible development, billionaire software baron, Bill Gates has predicted that there will be almost no poor countries left by 2035.
In the sixth annual letter published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates notes that there are already clear signs of progress. “By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been as people are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. ”Countries once considered poor, such as China, India, Brazil and even Botswana, now have growing economies. (Rick Wilking: Reuters) In a related development, ‘The Zero Hunger Challenge,’ launched by former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, encourages everyone – whether in government, business or civil society – ”to focus their energies on ending hunger in our lifetimes. ”The objective of Zero Hunger, which the private sector can do much to help achieve, is not just about altruism. Zero Hunger means no more stunting in children under 2 and access to adequate food for everyone all year round. This can be achieved, because all the knowledge needed is readily available. But, it requires comprehensive efforts’’
PHILANTHROPY: For the affluent in the developed world, philanthropy is a way of life. The Bill and Melinda Foundation through a family philanthropy programme devote as much funds to global health as the World Health Organization. ”In the case of Warren Buffett, he has programmed it that “More than 99% of his wealth will go to philanthropy during his lifetime or at death.” He not only committed himself to this ideal but also convinced more than 40 of U.S. billionaires to take his “giving pledge,” by committing at least 50% of their total wealth to philanthropy. ”For instance, the Tata group, the largest Indian conglomerate which accounts for 3.2% of India’s GDP, devotes two-thirds of its profit every year to philanthropy. For this to happen on the expected level in Africa, the continent requires a private-sector led revolution. This revolution, directed at redistribution of income must aim at philanthropy which seems not well embraced by Africa’s capitalistic economy.
THE TONY ELUMELU REVOLUTION: There are many charitable activities that have grown in Nigeria in the past two decades. Easily the most ambitious of them all is the activity launched in 2010 by the TONY ELUMELU FOUNDATION; an initiative of Tony O. Elumelu, Chairman of the Board of the United Bank for Africa Plc. He premised his belief on the fact that with the right support, entrepreneurs can be empowered to contribute meaningfully to Africa’s prosperity and social development. The ambitious programme, a pioneer member of the Global Impact Investment Rating System is charting a new course for African philanthropy.
AS THE LARGEST AFRICAN PHILANTHROPIC ORGANIZATION: The organisation has a 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, create a million jobs, and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy. More than more than 93,000 expressions of interest were received in 2017, that was the 3rd cycle of the organization’s entrepreneurship programme with the following objectives:
- Developing the next generation of business leaders for Africa
- Building the networks and developing the framework for enhancing the competitiveness of African economies
- Identifying impact investing opportunities.
- Research work aimed at developing an enabling environment for African entrepreneurs
CHAMPIONING A REVOLUTION IN AFRICAN PHILANTHROPY: ADVANTAGES OF CHARITY: There are numerous advantages that are derivable by being charitable. Apart from giving the giver joy, there is usually provision for writing off donations on tax returns in advanced nations. More importantly, giving affords the opportunity for the donor to affect his or her generation positively, and make the society and the world a better place to live in. The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is the leading philanthropy in Africa championing Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurs across the continent. The Foundation’s long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs is one of the major planks of the Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent. Interestingly, the Tony Elumelu Foundation engages in selective grant making to other bodies pursuing aligned and strategic causes e.g. Tony Blair African Governance Initiative, Kofi Annan Foundation, John Kufour Foundation, One Org, Rothschild Foundation; Policy development, research and advocacy; through the Africapitalism Institute.
AGRICULTURE IS THE FUTURE – The TONY ELUMELU FOUNDATION believes in Agriculture as the future The agriculture sector represents Africa’s greatest opportunity to drive inclusive, sustainable growth, and the only sector with the potential to lift millions out of poverty and forever change the continent’s path to development. But in order to achieve this, there must be a deliberate widespread shift from basic subsistence agriculture that is prevalent on the continent to more productive farming business operations that leverage functions in information and communications technology (ICT), processing, manufacturing and industry. In 2006, the dawn of Africa’s “green revolution”, a substantial international, multi-stakeholder effort to dramatically improve the prospects of the agriculture sector was initiated. Now, nearly a decade later, the entrepreneurial energy and innovation in agriculture emerging from the ground up is changing the perception of the market, and further influencing policy, capital flows, and the level of interest in Africa’s vast, untapped potential to feed itself and the world.
BOLD STEPS: A Report by the Tony Elumelu Foundation states that ‘’The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme In January of 2015, the Tony Elumelu Foundation launched the most comprehensive entrepreneurial ecosystem improvement programme in Africa: the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP). With a personal financial commitment of US$100 million over the next decade, Nigeria-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony O. Elumelu, CON, pledged to change the entrepreneurial space on the continent. In the months that followed, more than 20,000 applications – over 8,000 in agriculture – were received from all 54 African countries. Between March and June, following application evaluations by Accenture, and with the help of a pan-African Selection Committee of experts in entrepreneurship and business,1,000 entrepreneurs – 304 in agriculture and from 51 African countries – were chosen to join the inaugural cycle of the Programme. They then completed a rigorous 12-week online business skills training programme with support from 450 active mentors – more than half of which have deep expertise in agriculture and closely related fields.
Not too long ago, these same entrepreneurs participated in the informative TEEP Bootcamp in Ota, Nigeria, one of the largest of such convenings ever to be held in Africa – where they received additional hands-on training. From August until November, the entrepreneurs submitted their business plans and milestones, and we distributed empowerment capital funding to their business bank accounts. Thirty per cent of those selected are in agriculture, representing – by far – the Programme’s largest segment of entrepreneurs. The Programme provides US$5,000 in seed capital to the 1,000 selected entrepreneurs each year with the potential for an additional US$5,000 in capital, depending on their initial success. In addition, we have travelled across Africa with our Founder, Tony Elumelu, to meet with TEEP entrepreneurs in their countries including: Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Zambia, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Cameroon, Benin Republic, Congo, Gabon, Egypt, and Zimbabwe as well in Nigerian cities: Lagos, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Abuja, and Kaduna. As part of our social responsibility agenda, TERRIFIC HEADLINES will comb some areas with the intention of publishing documents that could radically ensure that youths get into Agriculture and refrain from the mad rush to travel abroad for better standards of living.
CHANGING OUR MINDSET FROM SELFISHNESS TO SELFLESSNESS: Many advanced countries run capitalistic economies. But the rich in those societies freely give away much of their wealth to assist their societies in programmes that overlap into the developing countries. For instance, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet who at one time occupied the leading position as the world’s richest personalities agreed, alongside and Mark Zuckerberg,s on an idea termed: ‘The Giving Pledge’ that is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back to the society what they realize from their businesses. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, through a family philanthropy programme devote as much funds to global health, as the World Health Organization. In the case of Warren Buffett, he has planned it that more than 99% of his wealth will go to philanthropy during his lifetime or at death.
COMMITMENTS: Both billionaires, not only committed themselves to this agenda, but have successfully rallied about 158 other billionaires, who have promised to give away at least half of their vast wealth to philanthropic causes. Their ages range from 30s to 90s. The campaign started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010, is to spur philanthropy among the superrich. ‘’Their commitment is to give away at least 50% of their wealth in their lifetimes or at death to charity. Buffett and the Bill & Melinda Gates developed the idea believing that a quantified goal would help the wealthy to think through their philanthropic plans. (FORTUNE MAGAZINE; APRIL 19, 2012) Annually, Warren Buffett donates $3.17 Billion (about 1.4 Trillion naira) to Gates Foundation and other Charities, as part of his decade-long plan to give away his massive fortune. Others notable givers are: Hasso Plattner, David Rockefeller, Azim Premji, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Sara Blakely, and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, and Africa’s Mo Ibrahim.
WARREN BUFFET & BILL GATES: WELL-MEANING EXAMPLES: Aged 88 years, and native of Omaha, Nebraska, United States, Warren Buffet, according to FORBES is worth 85.3 billion United States Dollars. He has given out US $30.7 to healthcare, education, AIDS-prevention, and sanitation, among others. He comes after Bill Gates, whose Foundation has released US$35 billion to address challenges in critical sectors likes healthcare, extreme poverty, education, access to information technology. Warren Buffet is an investor, and philanthropist who is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway; and has interests in several companies. Buffett is reportedly an extremely thrifty person, who eats the same $3.17-or-less breakfast from McDonald’s every morning; and has lived in the same modest, four-bedroom Omaha house since 1958.
On his part, Bill Gates occupies different steps on the ladder, on and off; as the richest man in the world and is the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft. His wealth is valued at USD 90 billion (December 2017). He is the largest individual shareholder in Microsoft, owning 6% of the common stock. After stepping down as Microsoft’s CEO in 2000 he started working fulltime at the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975, together with Paul Allen. Bill Gates and Paul Allen became the world’s richest persons when Microsoft became the world’s largest software maker. Bill Gates lives in an estate in Medina, valued at USD 125 million, in the State of Washington, United States. He manages the largest charitable foundation in the world.