Craig Featherby: Address Given at TrustAfrica Tenth Anniversary Conference

Signature of Hope Trust Chairman Craig Featherby addressed distinguished guests at TrustAfrica’s 10th Anniversary Conference in Addis Ababa yesterday. This year marks the tenth anniversary since TrustAfrica’s inception, and leaders from all walks of life on the African continent were invited to take part in discussions, listen to talks, network and discuss in greater detail how the cause of philanthropy can be furthered at this time.

Below is a transcript of Craig’s address:

Good afternoon fellow attendees and distinguished guests

I am delighted to be present at this conference, and particularly in Addis Ababa.

Carrick Wealth is an African wealth management brokerage, based in Africa, for Africans. My name is Craig Featherby and, as I stand here today, I wear two hats.

The first hat is as CEO of the Carrick Group of Companies, and the second is as Co-founder and Chairman of Signature of Hope Trust, a registered non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering people, building communities and changing lives on the African continent.

I am passionate about Africa, about its people and about making a real difference in the lives of many.

And, therefore, as a fellow African and one who is deeply motivated to make a difference, I see it as vitally important that the goals of TrustAfrica are protected and advanced through secure philanthropy, and strategic, sustainable principles.

And this very goal can only, and will only, be achieved through securing positive, meaningful partnerships.

When I first met Dr Murisa I was fascinated by his embedded passion to make a sustainable change. We got chatting and we shared our respective interest in Africa and particularly our common welfare goals. Correspondence flowed between us and I made certain suggestions to Dr Murisa about growing wealth for TrustAfrica.

And so it is that I stand here today, addressing the conference, because the company of which I am the CEO, Carrick Wealth, has been entrusted by the Board to invest and manage funds on behalf of TrustAfrica, and I can safely say that I believe we have done a great job!

img_5827TrustAfrica is going from strength to strength, and on this, the tenth anniversary, we can say that it is operating in the same sphere as other great African foundations – such as the Tshikululu Foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation; the Motsepe Foundation and Wellbeing Foundation Africa.

I love the land of Africa; I love the value of education and I love being able to use money to change a child’s potential overnight through simple but necessary intervention.

At Carrick we also love the work that we do, which is to grow, protect and preserve wealth on behalf of others.

Unfortunately, the continent has not been doing as well in the last two years as it has done over the last two decades: growth slipped to 3% after being at an average 5% per annum.

The former minister of finance in Nigeria, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was saying at a recent TED talk, how mortified she was to learn that Brexit had actually happened, and that this will surely impact on Africa – and aid to Africa – in the coming years.

Unfortunately, too, government all over Africa has been involved in business, with resulting corruption and its effect on institutions. Friends of politicians with government contracts do not always have the best long-term interests of people at heart. Not all government programmes work well, just as businesses can fail. A lot of good money and good resources can go to waste.

Which is why I am calling on business people to become philanthropists – to love humanity and causes which they are motivated to serve through strategic, partnered benefaction.

In the King James Bible is written in 1 Corinthians 13:

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three:

…. but the greatest of these is charity.

In fact, ladies and gentlemen, the Bible has lots to say on the subject of charity. Again, I quote from 2 Corinthians 9:7 “so let each give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity …”.

In business, at this time, there is much discussion around CSR – corporate social responsibility. On the other hand, many local philanthropic efforts are of the spray and pray variety, without strategic plans for investment and where there are no sustainable financial goals.

As previously stated, it is all about meaningful, trustworthy and sustainable partnerships.

All giving is good, and there is nothing inherently wrong with ‘spray and pray’ charity.  But individuals and communities cannot rely on intermittent help, and the now-you-receive-now-you-don’t access to funds or expertise does little to engender hope or trust when everything is so unreliable and insecure.

Yet, putting philanthropy squarely into a business model in order to ‘give back’ without the necessary addition of a loving heart, then, to get back to the Bible ‘it profiteth nothing’ – because the legal requirement to give is not philanthropy but rather Corporate Social Responsibility.

img_5828With rising deprivation, environmental stress and injustice all over the world, our common humanity demands that those who have more should be impelled to give.

Not compelled, but impelled.

The very energy that drives business leaders to have, create and manage more should impel them to reach out – to position themselves as philanthropists – and, preferably, before they die.

In the world of philanthropy, it is relatively easy to donate money to make an impact on one or more people’s lives as a once-off event. However, the much harder part, in fact ten times harder, is to sustain the same impact into the future.

Philanthropists need to have the mindset of an entrepreneur. And the only way to do that is through profit. A philanthropic venture that does not create a self-monetizing sustainable financial model will fail just as a start-up business will fail.

Allow me, then, to tell you more about the model that we employ in the Signature of Hope Trust. As I said earlier, my personal philanthropic instincts favour education and changing people’s lives.

We are the NPO which, at the top end, manages and disperses funding to programmes that are innovative, have a history of success and have administration and governance in place.

The Signature of Hope Trust in its Signature of Hope 20/20 strategic plan will be raising funds from private individuals, corporates, the private sector, institutions and foundations and investing these funds in an annuity that will pay out a fixed sum annually to three particular African beneficiaries: Operation Smile, the Lunchbox Fund and Streetlights Schools, and, flowing from that, bursaries to study medicine, agriculture and finance.

In this model, Signature of Hope Trust is not the NPO with the expertise in surgical intervention, feeding programmes or kindergarten … or primary school education, but rather –  the brains behind the business.

Each of the beneficiaries with whom we will be partnering fits my goals, which is to build schools and change lives.

And so, by December 2020, I want to have raised a sufficient pot of money to be invested at a return of 10 percent per annum to achieve the following:

  • To build and administer one school per year every year
  • To feed 1500 children per day every day
  • To pay for one cleft lip and palate operation per day every day.

However, as I said earlier, philanthropy must empower people …  and so it is vitally important that the Trust enables young Africans to gain qualifications in finance, agriculture and medicine.

Business is about relationships, between those on the outside with those on the inside. When the relationship dies, so too does business.

So, in conclusion, I believe that the role of business in philanthropy is to build very strong relationships with chosen partners. These strong relationships have to be trustworthy, strategic and sustainable. This, I believe, Carrick has successfully done with TrustAfrica.

We have formed the basis of something truly special and I ask you to watch this space as we have something truly amazing in the planning stages, which, I am sure, Dr Murisa will be discussing with you in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time.

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