One of the dominant trends in recent years has been the convergence of business and philanthropy. The charity landscape is no longer dominated by millionaires and billionaires working to maximize profits in their businesses, then pivoting to donate to separate entities. This type of neat separation between profit and charity is no longer the norm. A younger generation of philanthropic entrepreneurs is seeking to change the world through their businesses. They don’t want to donate their earnings; they want the business itself to change the world for the better. In many cases, their efforts have proven successful. Two specific cases exemplify this recent trend.
Zareen Ahmed has been a committed activist and charity operator for decades. Like many philanthropic entrepreneurs, it was a genuine interest in doing good rather than a profit motive that thrust her into the business world. After working for years as the CEO of a national charity, Ahmed started her own business to bring about philanthropic goals.
Ahmed’s company, Gift Wellness, produces sanitary products and essential toiletries. Given Ahmed’s philanthropic mindset, it should come as no surprise that the products are made in an environmentally-friendly and ethical fashion. But Gift Wellness goes much further than that, with a percentage of all sales used to send sanitary products to vulnerable women in refugee camps. This commitment to good works typifies the new age of donor-entrepreneurs.
James Thornton is not your average lawyer. Yes, he has a law degree, but he is also a certified Zen priest. He cites his meditation practices as the key to maintaining focus. He has also started a law firm with only a single client: planet Earth.
Thornton’s firm, aptly named Client Earth, has fought in the courts for years, pushing funds away from fossil fuels and into sustainable sources of energy. These efforts stem from Thornton’s belief that humanity sits atop a foundation of laws, and changing humanity depends on shifting the contours of the laws beneath us. Be putting his principles into action, he has brought about genuine change.
The world doesn’t change on its own. Actual change requires serious effort from committed individuals. These entrepreneurs are breaking free of traditional molds to make the world a better place.