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Helping end poverty while also making a business profit

2014-06-18

What's the best way to invest, make a profit and at the same time help those in need, while following the social doctrine of the Church? This was purpose of this meeting organized by the Vatican, Catholic Relief Services and the University of Notre Dame. 

THOMAS McPARTLAND
CEO ELMA Philanthropies Services
"So you have investment bankers, lawyers, foundation executives, Church leadership and it’s a cross section of a community that has a very diverse set of skills that are all relevant.” 

In fact Pope Francis welcomed the group in the Vatican, urging them to make social impact investments in the developing world, where they can look after both the common good and for the bottom line. 

It's part of a shift, of not just offering aid, but also aid that leaves a profit. In some countries, the private sector already provides a service, that's often unreliable. 

THOMAS McPARTLAND
CEO ELMA Philanthropies Services
"What that means is that there is a small health care clinic out there that a patient is going to, tacking money out of their own pocket to pay for that service. The government doesn’t know it exists, it’s probably not licensed, the quality of care is very variable. All of the development aid that’s coming from the wealthy countries into those poor environments is not going to those clinics, it’s going to the public health facilities. So the public health facilities are not of sufficient capacity to provide the quality and volume of health care services to their communities.” 
 
So everything from investing in the making of wheelchairs for the disabled, eye glasses or even clean water for local communities. They are all areas, that need development and that can have a huge impact. 

The panelists know about first hand. This is how Paul Polak describes the more than 2.6 billion people who live off of less than $2 dollars a day. 

PAUL POLAK
Founder of Windhorse International 
"They have become my teachers and my friends.” 
 
Some of the programs are long term, and could be implemented in the next three to five years. Others though, could have an immediate impact. 

THOMAS McPARTLAND
CEO ELMA Philanthropies Services
"One of the things we think of in health care in the developed world is the science, technology, medicine, but in reality the biggest mover of public health in our life time has been water, sanitation and hygiene.” 

So by treating the less fortunate as customers, and not just as the needy, organizers are hoping that sustainability, profit and development, can make these investments a win win for everyone


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