English Family Foundation
For Allan English, founder and chairman of hospitality and catering equipment leasing firm Silver Chef, the success of his business goes hand in hand with the success of his philanthropic goals. In fact Allan feels that his philanthropy has actually driven success in his business. “For me it was about purpose. Having purpose to drive my business was a key turning point, and has had a direct impact on the success of the business.”
Aligning his social goals with that of his company wasn’t always the business strategy for Silver Chef. It had become a very successful company for Allan when in 2000 he began to question why he was working so hard to make money, and what he was going to use the money for. This led to his first involvement with the not-for-profit sector, and Opportunity International Australia, which helps families in poverty with small loans and community development programs. His initial donation had such an enormous impact – helping to move 40,000 people out of poverty in Timor – that Allan knew he had found a motivation to grow his business.
Allan’s personal philanthropic vision is now part of the vision of the company, and sharing that goal with his staff has also enhanced the culture of the workplace. Allan created the English Family Foundation in 2010, when he transferred 50% of the family shares from his Brisbane based business, Silver Chef, into the foundation.
Staff at Silver Chef are updated every quarter on the activity of the foundation. “So far we’ve helped about 290,000 people. By the year 2020 we want to fund one million people out of poverty.” Knowing that their work is having that direct impact on moving people out of poverty provides Silver Chef employees with a great purpose. “It also helps to attract the best people to work at Silver Chef.”
Not surprisingly Allan takes a strategic approach to his giving, and he’s also keen to collaborate. He has already created an investor circle within a particular project with Opportunity International. The investor circle has been developed to support Samhita, a start-up microfinance institution in Madhya Pradesh, one of India’s poorest states.
Over 97% of loans disbursed by Samhita are repaid. Allan asks other donors to make a three year commitment of either $11,000 or $55,000 per annum and he matches all contributions dollar for dollar. It’s a unique approach that fits with Allan‘s passion for social entrepreneurs. “It’s an initiative that offers an opportunity to leverage a private ancillary fund’s international grantmaking capability. Samhita in India has also partnered with a local bank to have all loans matched dollar for dollar, which further extends the leverage potential.”
As is common with family philanthropy, Allan has discovered that his giving activities have inspired his children to get involved. He has found that the teenage years are the perfect age to begin discussions around passion and purpose, and he believes that all teenagers have a “compassion muscle” – it’s just waiting to be exercised!
Allan has a website if you’d like to learn more http://www.englishfoundation.org.au/
Allan English is a Brisbane-based entrepreneur who founded ASX listed Silver Chef Limited in 1986. Allan was Managing Director until June 2010 when he was appointed Non-executive Chairman. He is currently acting Interim Executive Chairman. Allan was awarded Queensland Community Philanthropist of the Year in 2012, and is currently Chair of The Funding Network, and a Director for Karuna Hospice Pty Ltd and the School of Social Entrepreneurs (Australia).