A Bridge Between Business and Philanthropy

Traditionally we think of business in terms of making money, and philanthropy in terms of giving it away. We generate profits in business, and accumulate a certain measure of wealth, and allocate some of that wealth for charitable giving. And certainly, charitable giving has been used to fund some very worthwhile causes over the years.

However, could it be that in certain respects, both business and philanthropy fall short of addressing one of the greatest needs in the world today, namely the need for more good paying jobs? And could it be that a bridge between business and philanthropy, between generating profits and charitable giving, between making money and giving it away, could be used to create even more jobs, at a time when good paying jobs are in such short supply?

Business is all about making money, and rightfully so, but it can also be about making a difference as well. Philanthropy is about charitable giving, but it can also be about other things as well. What is the common denominator between business and philanthropy? One possibility is that both are about helping people to better their lives. Business enables people to earn a livelihood, and with a little bit of luck, to accumulate wealth. Philanthropy helps mitigate suffering and helps endow institutions which better our lives as a whole, such as universities, hospitals, and the arts, etc.

But if we are out to improve the lives of those around us, whether in business, or in philanthropy, we have to ask ourselves some very basic questions: With all the global issues out there that need our attention, what are the greatest issues of our time? And the answer may well be: How do we grow our economies? How do we protect the environment? And how do we weaken the hold of extremist thinking? And when we try to answer such questions, we should ask ourselves, what tool can be used to address some of the most intractable issues of our time? And the answer may well be jobs: jobs which grow our economies, jobs which protect the environment, and jobs which help to weaken the hold of extremist thinking. In a very real sense, it’s all about jobs, about giving everyone on earth a place at the table, a stake in his or her future.

Therefore, keeping all this in mind, is it possible to use business and philanthropy in tandem, to create more good paying jobs, and to thereby rectify some of the greatest ills which plague us? If jobs are the answer, shouldn’t job creation be our first priority, both in business, and in philanthropy? For example, if a business leader is about to make a decision which could drastically increase or decrease the number of jobs that will be created, perhaps he could take into consideration, as he considers his options, the greatest good that would be realized by tilting his decision in favor or job creation. Perhaps he would ship out fewer jobs abroad, or hire more people as opposed to buying more robots, even at the cost of slightly less profits, because it could well be argued that job creation is a “profit” of sorts, in and of itself. Similarly, if the philanthropist considers how to invest in charitable giving, perhaps he could think of a way that his charity could somehow result in creating good paying jobs for the long haul, because it is a truism that: Give someone a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach someone to fish and you feed him for life. A job can feed a family for life, and can help them to reclaim a sense of hope, dignity and pride. What better gift is there?

A Green Industrial Zone in a place like Gaza is an example of how business and philanthropy could work together to create jobs, and thereby make a profound difference as well in people’s lives. A philanthropist may be inspired to leave behind a legacy of hope, but hope that is made real with jobs. He may take it upon himself to build a Green Industrial Zone in a place like Gaza, the most unlikely of places, but a place that will inspire hope, precisely because of its current plight.

Once built, the Green Industrial Zone could attract companies to set up their facilities there, as a way of generating profits, but also excellent public relations as well. Jobs would be created in a bid to stabilize the region as a whole. State-of-the-art research and technology will be used to produce green products which can change the world. Women could be promoted to managerial positions as a way of reconstituting the role of women in the Middle East. A Greentech Incubator could be used to launch new businesses by connecting young entrepreneurs with investment capital. And an artist colony could be used to help inculcate a culture of tolerance.

In short, the coming together of business and philanthropy in this sort of way, in a Green Industrial Zone of this kind, could be the model that tilts the balance in favor of job creation, and thereby tilts the destiny of man in our favor.

It’s Time for a Reset

The world has never been perfect, but there are hints out there that certain things are not quite as they should be, and that if we do nothing, we may well seal our fate for the worse.

There are many examples. In the U.S., for example, the economy seems to be recovering modestly, but young people, in particular, are still facing high rates of unemployment. Are we prepared to write off a whole generation, and tell them they must settle for less than their parents? In China, and other countries as well, the air pollution is so thick in some cities, that jet planes are forced to land without visibility, using only their instrumentation to guide them. Is that the future we envision for ourselves? And in parts of the Middle East, and other areas of the world, extremism is gaining the upper hand, with the prospect of endless fighting, including the likelihood that weapons of mass destruction will end up in the hands of people with uncompromising ideological agendas. Can we afford to allow extremists to set the agenda for the destiny of man?

Most of the threats we face around the world seem to fall into three general categories: How do we grow our economies? How do we protect the environment? And how do we weaken the hold of extremist thinking?

Our focus, here on this website, is to come up with workable solutions to the three greatest questions of our time, and to build a model which proves that the solutions we propose can actually work in the real world. Our challenge, the world over, is to see things as they really are, and to put together the pieces of a possible solution to some of our most intractable problems, in just the right way, and to package these solutions in the most attractive way possible, so as to sell them to the man on the street. In short, we will inspire people with a vision of hope, and deliver on that promise with jobs: jobs which grow our economies, jobs which protect the environment, and jobs which help to weaken the hold of extremist thinking.

Yes, the world is ready for a reset. But we can’t just talk about it. As they say, talk is cheap. We can’t just think about it. The best ideas can go by the wayside if we don’t find a way to make them real. We need to build the answers for our time. We will build a place that we can actually see and touch, a self-evident reality that speaks louder than words, and that proves that peace is possible. For all the naysayers out there, and there are plenty, it will be hard to deny an answer that actually works, that has been given substance in reality, and that proves that new models are not only possible, but necessary, in our time.

Global problems require global solutions. How do we create new engines for economic growth? How do we generate profits without degrading the environment? How do we respect cultural and religious diversity while avoiding the pitfalls of ideological extremism? These are the great challenges of our time, challenges which will require bold initiatives.

We believe that a Green Industrial Zone in a place like Gaza will provide the beginnings of an answer to the greatest questions of our time. It will only be a beginning. But a beginning is still a good place to start. And it will have to be built for it to mean anything. Your help in this regard, whether by the comments you leave behind, or the people you introduce us to, could make all the difference in the world. It is time for a reset. It is time to take stock of our situation. It is time to think out of the box we find ourselves. And it is time, before time runs out, to dream the impossible, and to make the impossible come true.