Friday, September 19, 2008


In my professional life I have gravitated between the private sector and the non-profit sector. My last gig was managing two Emerging Markets indexes for Standard & Poor's . In my position, I had the displeasure to witness the Pakistani market take a nosedive after Benazir Bhutto's death, but nothing compared to last week. If there has been a tough week for the Capitalist system, this was it. The Wall Street credit crisis has managed to do something that neither the Great Depression, nor two World Wars managed to do, which was taking down Lehman Brothers , shaking the basis of the Capitalist system to its very core.

Well, while Capitalism's hub and raison d'être is self-interest, there is the parallel to this idea, which is 'Philanthropy'. It derives from the greek vocables that mean "love towards men", in other words, love for others. Can these two notions co-exist? Furthermore, can these two practices interact effectively? Can Capitalism be applied in a way destined to the benefit of mankind? From this very questions emerge a whole discussion that is taking place in The Global Philanthropy Forum. Some of the participants are Michael Edwards, which is vocal in his skepticism about the subject, Matthew Bishop, who coined the new term in the work: Philanthrocapitalism: how the rich can save the world remains hopeful.

What's your opinion? is Philanthropy doomed by Capitalism, can it actually help it?

Well, here's my two cents, a very predictable one given my professional background. Along with the many considerations and changes that both the current philanthropic and markets need to experiment, and with the risk of looking foolish and simplistic, I am a believer, I think that Philanthrocapitalism is more beneficial, rather than deleterious to humankind. Hopefully this will ignite another discussion.

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Anonymous said...

Can you give some examples of philanthrocapitalism?

Gonzalo A. Peña said...

Hey there Josh,

The most classic example would be The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helps with crucial and sometimes forgotten philanthropic causes, and happens to run on the funds of (until recently) the wealthiest person of the world.

Un abrazo