CONCERN WORLDWIDE U.S.'s "SEEDS OF HOPE" AWARD
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
NOVEMBER 4, 2003
It’s a special honor to be here this evening, though to be honest, receiving an honor for humanitarian work from Mark Malloch Brown [Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme] is a little bit like receiving an award for basketball from Michael Jordan. You feel privileged by the association, but you really feel like the award should have been retired with the previous recipient.
I want to say a special thanks tonight to Tom Moran, the remarkable chairman of Concern Worldwide, and his chief executive, Tom Arnold; and particularly to Siobhan Walsh, who has not only done a brilliant job for Concern here in the United States – she’s also worked hard to focus attention on the burdens of poverty borne by women, and I want to thank her for that.
Listening to Mark speak a little bit about what Concern does, listening to Peter and his wonderful descriptions of all the wonderful work that Concern does, watching this incredibly moving video, I’m reminded of a story that I once heard. It’s about a picture of what the world would look like if the earth’s population was shrunk down to a village of precisely 100 people with all of the world’s existing human nations in that village.
And of those 100 people, 57 of them would be from Asia, 21 would be from Europe, 14 would be from the Western hemisphere, and 8 would be from Africa. Eighty of the 100 would live in substandard housing, 70 would be unable to read, 65 would never have made a phone call, 50 would suffer from malnutrition, 20 would never had had a clean drink of water, a little more than 15 would live on less than a $1.00 a day and only one would have a college education.
And in the global connected village that we all live in today, these vast disparities are visible increasingly to all and affect us all. The message of Concern, the work of Concern, and the work and the message as well of UNDP, is that it is not too late to do something about this but that it is going to take all of us.
I think for too many years, it was too easy to assume that just because the poorest of the poor in the underdeveloped countries didn’t have the same opportunities as everyone else, that they didn’t have the same talent. I think what Concern has proven over the past 35 years is that those assumptions and those ugly stigmas are wrong. Not only do the poorest people in the poorest countries have vast potential inside them – the same potential every human being has inside them – but the right resources married to a sustained commitment to make a real difference can truly take those communities and this world that we have not been before.
Now at HP, in our almost 70-year history, we have always believed that corporations have to be a fundamental part of that equation. At a time today when corporations represent 52 of the 100 biggest economies on earth, there is simply no excuse to stay on the sidelines and hope that somebody else addresses the problem – with global reach must come global responsibility.
And for HP, in our almost 70 years, global citizenship has always been one of our corporate objectives. Contribution to community has always been one of our corporate values, and now today, we speak of doing well and doing good.
I think for nearly a century, many corporations that have taken a role in addressing the problems and the disparities that we see in the world have seen philanthropic goals and long term business goals actually in separate buckets. Helping the poor, or investing in building a community has always been seen by many as the right thing to do, but it has not always been seen as a necessary business thing to do.
At HP, we believe that doing the right thing is also doing the smart business thing. And to us, this is a very simple math equation – just 10 percent of the world can afford to buy the products we make. If we are going to continue to grow, not just for the next quarter, but for the next decade, and the decade beyond that, there is no question to us that many of the ideas, and the customers, and the partners, and the employees of the future are going to have to come from that other 90 percent of the world.
Developing economies are our fastest growing markets. And we need talent wherever we can find it. I would argue that the winning companies of this century are going to be those that understand that community development objectives are not separate from business objectives; they are fundamental to business objectives.
What we’re learning today is that cutting edge innovation can result from weaving social and environmental considerations into business strategy from the very start. And in the process, we can help develop the next generation of ideas, and markets, and products. Innovation is our life’s blood; we are a technology company, and so thinking about where the next generation of ideas and innovation is important to us.
And so, as Mark mentioned in his comments, we are working to evolve a new model of involvement, committing not just money, not just products, but our people to work in developing communities. What Concern knows is that it is human capital that is frequently the most valuable gift we can give, and what we are learning as well is that it is our human capital, our managerial talent, our people’s ability to help a community set objectives and then create a plan to meet those objectives, that human capital is as valuable a contribution as our products or our money.
In our e-inclusion program, we develop what we call i-communities, and we put teams of people in the most under-accessed and underprivileged communities around the world, whether those communities are in East Baltimore, or an Indian reservation outside San Diego, or the village of Kuppam in India that Mark mentioned, or in a rural village in South Africa. We put people in these communities for up to three years at a time on projects, and we work with local citizens to help them determine their objectives, their goals and then we work with them to help them meet these goals.
And what we’re finding through this effort is that by making that commitment, we are also able to catalyze other NGO’s, and other companies, and even in some cases, local and national governments to make these commitments.
As an example, we just celebrated the first year of our i-community in South Africa. President Mbeki and I kicked off the project one year ago. And just a month ago, President Mbeki visited the village for the first year anniversary and was so taken by what he saw that he is now considering nationalizing the program.
Let me give you just three quick examples of what we get out of this effort – why it is not just doing good, it is doing well, and let me start with India. In this village that we are working in, our people learned as the people there know every day, that electric power is unreliable. And so we thought to develop a solar powered digital camera and a solar powered photo printer.
First, we came up with an idea that we would never have thought of. It turns out that in India, citizens must travel from their village into a city to have a national ID card made. They must make this journey frequently, at least once a year, and when they journey from their village into the city they lose time. Frequently, the journey is difficult; they have time away from work, time away from their families, etc.
With these solar powered printers and solar powered digital cameras, we have created micro businesses, and we now have 300 Indian women who have become roving photographers. They travel from village to village, and they are building businesses by providing citizens with national ID cards. We got a new product; we got new customers. They got new businesses, and interestingly, these businesses have now become high enough in status that frequently, the women’s husbands go along.
I’ll give you another example. We recycle many of our products, and in South Africa, we set up a business where a small entrepreneurial company is helping us recycle our products, and then they are taking that recycled material, and turning it into very interesting objets d'art, you might say. We are giving those objects to our customers as tokens of our appreciation, and this small business is selling those objects. Once again, we learned something we never would’ve learned; we have created sustainable business for the community, and we have created customers.
And the final example involves the Indian reservation that I mentioned outside San Diego. This is actually a group of different reservations, and this community’s objective was to preserve their culture. They wanted to do this by wiring together these various reservations, and having a common place where they could come and study their heritage, their history.
The topology in that area is very difficult, and so our engineers couldn’t figure out how to make all this work together. There were three young Native American men who were determined to figure this out and, in fact they did. They figured out how to engineer this project. We brought our engineers back, and they were stunned at the quality of the engineering and said they had never seen engineering of this quality. We found talent.
Every one of those examples is an example of finding customers, and ideas, and employees, and partners in that other 90 percent of the world, and it is a way for us to do good, but also over time, to do well.
Now, I should also say that no matter where we go, we know it is no accident that Concern and the wonderful people of Concern have been there before us. To companies that are thinking of getting involved today, I would say do it because it’s the right thing to do. But if that isn’t enough for you, then do it because it is a smart business thing to do.
At HP, if you have seen our ads, you know that they end with the tag line, everything is possible. I actually believe that. I don’t think everything is easy; I don’t think everything happens right away, but I do think that when people work together on a worthy goal, that everything is possible and Concern as an organization is bringing the power of possibilities to people all over the world.
We’re proud to be a part of that journey with you. Thank you very much for the honor this evening.