A. I have always had an interest in microcredit. When I was in government in Africa it was something I promoted very strongly. I did a lot of work with a very successful microcredit organisation with 20,000 women in it in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast. Microcredit is a very powerful tool to create opportunities for people. Development in emerging economies has always been very important to me. Having worked for many years in Africa, I know first-hand the difference that development can make to the lives of individuals and the health of communities. Any project that fosters growth, from microfinance to large-scale infrastructural investment, is worthy of support.
Q. What makes Opportunity’s work unique?
A. I like Opportunity International because it is about empowering people. Poverty is not an illness. There are all kinds of circumstances to explain people’s poverty. The poor, the so-called poor, have resources, they have intelligence and they have energy. The important thing is to treat them with dignity, which means creating opportunities for them that they are able to seize. Human nature is fantastic, and giving people opportunities is crucial. That’s my view of charity – it is about creating opportunities, not handouts.
Q. How does this fit with your personal ethos?
A. Helping people to create opportunities is vitally important. It’s not something I just apply to charity work. In my professional life, a lot of my job is to empower people and create opportunities for them to achieve their maximum potential.
With Opportunity International, there are few things more pleasing than to see people recover their self-belief and their self-esteem, to see them become independent, able to feed their families and support their loved ones through their work, not by getting a handout. It is a privilege for me to contribute to Opportunity International’s development and success.
Q. Your wife is also involved?
A. My wife went to Ghana with Opportunity International to see first-hand the impact of its work in the field. She met women who are benefiting from the small loans that Opportunity provides. She is personally involved in many charities. Before she met me, when she was in college, she worked for the UNHCR helping refugees in Kenya for six months.
Q. How important is charitable work to Prudential?
A. Charitable work is extremely important to us. Just as we create economic value, we place a great deal of emphasis on creating social value. We support charitable organisations not just through funding but also the experience and expertise of our employees.
After the earthquake in Padang in Indonesia in 2009, a number of volunteers from Prudential went there to help build houses in affected villages. After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan this year, a large team of Prudential volunteers helped to clear debris, assisted with the distribution of relief and provided activities for children in temporary housing communities there.