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#PitchtoRich: Be careful what you wish for

''Big Egos and inaction' is how the Guardian described Branson's impact so far with the B Team, pointing out how little its members had invested. In stark contrast I share a story in which a pioneer invested his life.

It doesn't seem to have registered yet in our media, but last week Sir Richard Branson spoke to Ukrainians  at the Forum One business leadership conference.  Kyiv Post noted that the conference itself would benefit 10 disabled sponsoring their further development and education.

As I related recenlty to the social economy unit at York St John University,  our 'Marshall Plan' proposal has described a cross sector collaboration approach to resolving social problems and the primary focus was these children. all of them. It was a plan to place every child in a loving family home.

Without doubt, it caused ripples when we'd suggested that capitalism could be applied to a wide range of social problems. Another 4 years elapsed before Harvard came up with 'Creating Shared Value'

In 2009 however Branson had spoken at an event sponsored by oligarch Viktor Pinchuk , saying that business should focus more on social problems.  Virgin Unite had been soilciting project ideas, so I described what were doing. it seemed as if Sir Richard was singing from our hymn sheet, i.e. the 'Marshall Plan' proposal.

Hello Virgin Team,

I’d submitted several suggestions to your website with no response and this was a follow to explain our work.

At the Ukrainian lunch in Davos, Richard Branson gave a talk suggesting that business should focus more on social problems.

This is what we’ve been doing in Ukraine for 7 years to reach the point that our efforts have persuaded government to adopt changes to childcare policy. We’re a small business rendering 100% profit to do something about the plight of orphans and street children in Ukraine.

One of my submitted suggestions was about raising funds to help the founder of a charity Happy Child who support sick and disabled children in Ukraine. She herself is disabled and in need of surgery.

Another suggestion is the proposal to create 10 models of excellence for the rehab centres Ukraine’s government agreed to last year. Little has been done since the announcement.

If the Ukraine lunch speech was an indication of intent to apply this in Ukraine, then we’re able to show the way.


Jeff Mowatt

The magazine For-UA who had published the 'Marshall Plan' proposal in 2007, interviewed founder Terry Hallman in 2006 about his aims and the problem of corruption. ,

" I still believe I can provide means for common people in Ukraine to change their own lives. I can’t do it for them, but I can help reorganize things, marshal resources, and organize new development programs, and so on. People can then participate as they wish. They’ll have new opportunities that they do not have now. I’m mainly aiming at the poorest people in Ukraine who have no real opportunities to improve their lives and get out of poverty. Helping them will provide significant economic benefit to Ukraine, not least by creating a stronger economy and larger annual national budget – which in turn makes possible helping improve social and economic conditions for more people. "

At the begiinning of 2014, it was clear that violent conflict had begun and at the same conference 5 years later, a panel discussion repeats what was argued in the 'Marshall Plan'  The ubiquitous presence of Tomy Blair at these conferences should be noted. He's the man who made social enterprise UK government policy. His Faith Foundation is sponsored by Viktor Pinchuk

Sir Richard says, "Business is an idea that makes a positive difference to somebody elses life"

Interestingly there's a question from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales about the Benefit Corporation. This approach , where business embeds a social purpose in its corporate charter is .proposing that business could put people first.

"If a corporation wants to donate to its local community, it can do so, be it one percent, five percent, fifty or even seventy percent. There is no one to protest or dictate otherwise, except a board of directors and stockholders. This is not a small consideration, since most boards and stockholders would object. But, if an a priori arrangement has been made with said stockholders and directors such that this direction of profits is entirely the point, then no objection can emerge. Indeed, the corporate charter can require that these monies be directed into community development funds, such as a permanent, irrevocable trust fund. The trust fund, in turn, would be under the oversight of a board of directors made up of corporate employees and community leaders."

"It's an excellent idea" says Branson

Sharing that concept free to use, online might well have begun a movement. Unfortunately when it comes to supporting projects which aren't going to return kudos, those like Branson, Blair Gates and Yunus will have no interest.

As is so often the case, it means the worst of the problems are avoided  You will build but they only come under their own brand..

As Terry Hallman wrote to USAID in 2008:

"Children are left in conditions of neglect and medical ignorance, without benefit of even the most basic modern medical interventions that could reduce their suffering and give them a life reflecting human compassion that the vast majority of Ukrainian citizens want for all of Ukraine’s children, in my experience. Whether these kids live or die is of little, if any, concern to mafia."

As the Sunday Times publshed in 2011

"This story will reverberate right around the world and so it should. Ukraine will be judged not by the actions of this cruel few but on how the case is now handled by the authorities. However, we must also look to ourselves for it is no longer acceptable to look the other way.

The Ukrainian maxim: “I saw nothing, my home is on the other side of the village” has no place in the modern world. If by our deliberate blindness, children are allowed to suffer such depravities then, by our inaction, we are all guilty."

Kyiv Post, who republished the Sunday Times article, describe Akhmetov and Pinchuk, host of the Davos meeting as  "Ukraine's Scrooges"

These are the children at Torez, described in 'Death Camps for Children'   


As our founder said:

"Allowing that some people do not matter, as things are turning out, allows that other people do not matter and those cracks are widening to swallow up more and more people. Social enterprise is the first concerted effort in the Information Age to at least attempt to rectify that problem, if only because letting it get worse and worse threatens more and more of us. Growing numbers of people are coming to understand that “them” might equal “me.” Call it compassion, or call it enlightened and increasingly impassioned self-interest. Either way, we are all in this together, and we will each have to decide for ourselves what it means to ignore someone to death, or not."