The line between philanthropy and business is blurring, says a New York Times supplement on Giving this week. A new generation of philanthropists has stepped forward, for the most part young billionaires who have reaped the benefits of capitalism and believe that it can be applied in the service of charity. They are “philanthropreneurs,” driven to do good and have their profit, too.
Meanwhile, in emerging markets, companies are also applying the "part philanthropy/part corporate strategy" business model. The result: they are developing markets AND contributing to bettering the lives of millions of people. Intel's World Ahead program in China is one example. The tech company has announced plans to spend $1 billion over five years to improve Internet access in developing countries and train teachers on how to use technology.
The long-term pay-off for companies such as Intel is pretty clear. For the governments of countries like India and China, where programs by Microsoft, Intel, and other hi-tech companies are underway, "the technology projects offer ways to close gaps with wealthier cities -- providing more-remote and less-educated residents access to information they wouldn't have otherwise to improve their own and their children's fortunes. Both countries have ambitious plans to use technology to maintain their rapid economic development."
For those of us at IFC -- an international financial institution with a development mission-- the convergence of emerging market development goals with 'philanthropreneurshipism' means at least a triple pay-off, where everyone can win.