What If the Rich Paid it Forward?

If you have never watched the movie “Pay it Forward,” then you must!  It’s the story of a young boy, who instead of returning a favour, decides to do three good deeds for total strangers. It may seem idealistic, but it has caught on and across the years and miles people are doing small acts of kindness for others, such as paying for a coffee for the person in the queue behind them.

But What If the rich paid it forward? What could they possibly achieve?

One man is doing just that. Manoj Bhargava has funded the Billions in Change movement which is changing the lives of billions in India. He is channelling his money into projects that provide light for free, prevent air pollution and provides clean water for everyone. He believes that the wealthy have a duty to serve those that are less well-off, and it is because of that belief, that he has committed a large proportion of his wealth (90%) into the development of technologies that can help people with their basic needs.

So, what has he actually done?  Imagine never having to pay an electricity bill again. Imagine being able to turn your dirty water into clean drinking water and imagine, being able to fertilise areas of land for farming without the expense of chemical fertilisers. These are just some of the inventions Monaj and his team have created. He believes that the way to make life better for the majority is to create the technology to address real life issues. He looks at the problems facing the poor and develops the solutions.

His philosophy is simple, is it useful? Based on this philosophy for example, he has looked at what is the biggest problem facing the poor in the world today and it is water, or the lack of it  Without water billions will die and this motivated him to design and develop the “Rainmaker” a machine that purifies water. This invention will be needed globally, and it will make him even more billions; however, he will just put 90% of that back into future projects and so it renews.

Why aren’t others doing it?  There are others that have signed the Giving Pledge which is a pledge to give away 50% of their money either in their lifetime or leave it in wills. This has beenhard to calculate as their assets are constantly growing fast and calculating what they will give away is proving difficult.

Recently the UN designated 17 Sustainable Goals to minimise the equality in the world and it looks as though Monaj Bhargava is working through them one goal at a time. If more Billionaires follow in the footsteps of Monaj, then the world will indeed be a better place to live.

Monaj may be in a privileged position, but we all can contribute. As an example, businesses locally sourcing their supplies can help create circular economies and also reduce the need for long distance transportation.

At Whatifgroup, as well as being big advocates of the SDG’s and supporting The Sustainability Academy, we are keen to try and push the agenda of the circular economy and the learnings published by Kate Raworth in Doughnut Economics.

Town Centres will not be sustainable if people earning profit from them, do not put some back in. If people living in those towns are not earning enough they will not spend in the retail and leisure economy.