Top 10 philanthropists who have made global impact

Philanthropic efforts enable companies to utilise their profits for the greater good of the society.

Engaging in philanthropy could be driven by personal values such as giving back to society, development, and reform amongst others. Philanthropy can also be a part of corporate social responsibility. Apart from this, philanthropic endeavours enable businesses to expand their network, further helping them sustain their business ventures. Here is a look at some of the entrepreneurs who are notable philanthropists:

Ray Dalio

Starting his wealth advisory firm in a two-bed apartment in New York, Dalio went on to amass substantial wealth and joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge is a campaign launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to encourage their peers and billionaires around the world to give away a considerable portion of their wealth to charitable causes.

Through this pledge, the founder of Bridgewater Associates agreed to commit more than half his fortune to charitable causes in his lifetime. The welfare foundation is involved with various causes, such as sustainability, ocean awareness, health and wellness, community, and the arts.

The ocean exploration and awareness branch of the foundation aims to draw attention to one of the world’s least researched natural resources. The family is also heavily investing in financial inclusion initiatives. Dalio also supports several social enterprises and is engaged in impact investments.

Sheela Murthy

Sheela Murthy is a lawyer, businessperson, and passionate philanthropist. A notable alumnus of Harvard Law School, she successfully set up her law firm in Maryland, which is touted as one of the leading legal firms for immigration laws.

Murthy delved into charitable work with the setup of her welfare foundation, ‘MurthyNayak,’ particularly donating to women and children, and immigrants assisting in areas of healthcare and education.

Murthy is vocal about women’s empowerment and frequently comments on immigrant issues as she has closely dealt with these issues in her tenure as an immigration lawyer in Maryland. Murthy was named the Philanthropist of the Year in 2009 by United Way International and the United Way of Central Maryland.

Sunny Varkey

Sunny Varkey is a Dubai-based entrepreneur, founder, and executive chairperson of the GEMS Education Group. Varkey seized the opportunity to expand his parents’ education institute after understanding the need to school the children of Indian expatriates, as most of the local schools were designed to function exclusively for native students.

Varkey recognised the need for the increasing number of Indian expatriates and their children. Taking inspiration from his father’s values, the Padma Shri awardee in 2010 created the Varkey Foundation. With this foundation, Varkey intends to benefit one hundred impoverished children for every child enrolled in their education institutes.

In the year 2011, the Varkey Foundation donated one million in partnership with UNESCO to provide education for girls in Lesotho and Kenya. Varkey also pledged a similar amount in donations to India, Ghana, and Kenya to train ten thousand school principals.

The Varkey Foundation aims to stabilise and support the teaching profession around the world. By supporting teachers and the profession of teaching per se, they want to ensure that every student gets access to quality education.

Malini Saba

Malini Saba is the founder and former chairperson of the Saba Group. The group was established in the year 1990. They operate in the sectors of agriculture and mining. The company under her leadership expanded to various other industries. Consequent to her success in her business, Saba, was a fervent advocate for women’s empowerment, and an activist for human rights. Subsequently, Saba founded the Anannke Foundation.
The Anannke Foundation is involved in skill development, human rights activism, healthcare, and education. They have also worked to transform communities and help women build resilient lifestyles through employment programmes.

Saba is renowned for her efforts and philanthropic engagements such as building schools and healthcare centres around the world.

Vidya Shah

Vidya Shah is the CEO of the philanthropic branch of the Edelweiss Group, Edelgive Foundation. She was pivotal in consolidating the group’s philanthropic efforts into one single stream.

The foundation focuses on key areas such as education, livelihoods, and healthcare. The foundation’s core belief is understanding the power of collective giving. Through this philanthropic endeavour, the Edelgive Foundation aims to create a sustainable and equitable future.

Edelgive Foundation operates on the principle of strategic philanthropy, which encourages employees to also be involved with their philanthropic ventures.

Shiv Nadar

Shiv Nadar built a college in Chennai called SSN School of Engineering from his father’s namesake. This was the first step that Shiv Nadar Foundation took to initiate educational welfare under his philanthropic endeavors. The Kiran Nadar Foundation is the first private philanthropic museum built in India. The Shiv Nadar Foundation pursues creative philanthropy which aims to transform the educational landscape within India.

Chuck Feeney

The business tycoon Chuck Feeney decided to devote his wealth to charitable causes, in line with his belief in serving humanity. The Atlantic Philanthropy endeavor invested in old age security, elder care, and welfare for children, and youth in terms of community schools to benefit the impoverished sections of society. The Atlantic Philanthropy was committed to bridging the gap and providing an equal playing ground for everyone.

This was the largest welfare initiative operating in Australia, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the United States. Notably known for their donation to UC San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin in building the Global Brain Health Institute that conducts research on Dementia.

Paul Tudor Jones

Jones is an American billionaire and the brain behind the Robin Hood Foundation. His Robin Hood Foundation has been helping impoverished families in New York for the past three decades. Jones has also notably donated to his alma mater, the University of Virginia. Through his funding, UVA built a Contemplative Sciences Centre.

Rohini Nilekani

Both Nandan Nilekani and his wife are signatories to the Giving Pledge campaign launched by Bill Gates. The author pledged around fifty crores to the Ashoka Trust for research in ecology and the environment. The Author of Stillborn, through the Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies Foundation, donated a notable one hundred crore rupees to NIMHANS in Bengaluru. Nilekani’s philanthropic attempts are focused on the areas of education and environmental concerns, amongst others.

Azim Premji

The former Chairman of Wipro, Azim Premji, is one of the notable business tycoons engaged in philanthropy. After having a successful run in his entrepreneurship with leading Wipro, Premji felt the need to give back to society and address the country’s developmental challenges. Set up in 2001, the business tycoon solely funded the Azim Premji Foundation.

The foundation’s goals were divided into three phases when it was first established in 2001. Subsequently, from the year 2002 up until 2009, the foundation stepped into the second phase of its philanthropic attempts.

During this phase, the philanthropic group decided to collaborate with various other governmental boards across states in India. In the second phase of welfare assistance, the foundation participated in curriculum reform, school textbook development, assistance to teachers, and policy-making in the educational landscape.

It was during this phase that the principles of the foundation were laid in stone and the group decided to commit its efforts to promoting education in India. The Azim Premji Foundation has built many educational institutions to reform schooling in rural areas of India.

Philanthropy plays a crucial role in reforming society. The collaborative efforts established by philanthropic foundations help accelerate development processes. As we continue to face new challenges, philanthropic ventures will be pivotal in taking the world forward.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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