“A triple-bottom-line company needs to look after people and planet, as well as profit”
As part of our ongoing Charity Month, we spoke to Guy Rigby, the Founder of The Entrepreneurs’ Advisor, about the charities he supports, why he chooses to support them, and how he does so.
When did you first start becoming interested in social entrepreneurship?
I first started thinking about it when I was researching for my book, From Vision to Exit – The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Building and Selling a Business. This would have been in about 2009. I had recently started as the Founder of Smith & Williamson’s (now Evelyn Partners) Entrepreneurs division and, given the challenges brought on by the “Great Recession”, the idea of businesses that valued people and planet (as well as profit – the so-called “triple bottom line”) became increasingly appealing.
Why have you chosen UnLtd as the charity you wish to support?
I chose UnLtd for a variety of reasons. It is basically a much smaller version of The Prince’s Trust but with a fundamental difference in that it exists to support social entrepreneurs – people who start businesses that bring benefits to communities as a whole.
In addition, I really like the fact that their beneficiaries come from some of the most challenging backgrounds, where funding is very difficult to find. Apart from the fact that these individuals typically do not have access to the “Bank of Mum & Dad”, they are mainly from minority ethnic backgrounds or are disabled, and most are women. The charity therefore seeks to level the playing field for these under-represented and underfunded groups.
Can you tell us more about some of the work you’ve done to support UnLtd?
I have worked on the funding side. Apart from giving to various charities, I have never been comfortable asking people for charitable donations for, say, doing a 10k run or to celebrate my birthday! I, therefore, decided I had to do something rather bolder and with a longer duration so I could genuinely ask people to donate.
This turned into a 3,000-mile Atlantic row (together with my rowing partner, David Murray) with a duration of 53 days, 3 hours and 42 minutes in The Entrepreneur Ship, a 24-foot ocean rowing boat which we rowed from the Canaries to Antigua.
I’m glad to say that this strategy worked, as we spent two years training and working on fundraising and achieved total funding of £753,000. In addition, we became the World Record holders as the oldest pair ever to row any ocean.
Have you any more voyages across the Atlantic planned?
With part of the proceeds from our campaign, I persuaded UnLtd to buy a new ocean rowing boat and I am now running a five-year programme putting two people in the boat to raise further funding for the charity. The first crew will depart the Canaries this December and we have crews lined up for 2024 and 2025.
As a result of this activity, the aim is to raise a further £500k to £1m for UnLtd. I am managing the programme, not rowing myself (although never say never!).
Do you support any other charities?
I support a variety of traditional charities, but not in the same way as UnLtd. I make donations most months but normally these are associated with one off events or causes supported by friends and family.
Do you think it’s important for businesses to support charitable organisations?
A triple-bottom-line company needs to look after people and planet, as well as profit. It is, therefore, essential that businesses support charities, particularly when their business activities are not obviously for the common good.
A social enterprise that supports its community should rightly reinvest in its own activities to add to the benefits it provides. For less obviously socially beneficial enterprises, charitable giving is a must and should be undertaken in conjunction with employee involvement, whether simply in deciding on the charity beneficiaries or through voluntary working, etc.