Saturday, December 10, 2005

Venture Philanthropy

The New York Times has an interesting article, A Scotsman Wields a Not-So-Invisible Hand in Africa, about Tom Hunter who has committed $100 million for projects to wrest Africans from poverty. Some things about this struck me.

"Why would a hard-headed and successful businessman... display what cynics might depict as a naïveté that has left many would-be saviors to rue the day they resolved to venture into Africa?... His plan is to bypass the usual channels of development aid." Discontinuous innovations always look crazy to people vested in the status quo, which is why they are almost always commercialized outside the existing mainstream market leaders. Why should philanthropy be any different? Tom Hunter's instincts about creating a new value chain to deliver his aid are probably right on.

"Sir Tom calls his form of giving 'venture philanthropy...' His philanthropy will be run on business lines with clear targets and exit strategies." This reminds me of Bill Gates approach to his philanthropy. This discipline is likely to make both highly success givers.

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