Hugh Jackman: “Eradicate Poverty through Business”

Hugh Jackman

Source: Image from original article

Hugh Jackman is using chocolate to eradicate poverty!

Hugh Jackman Interview

Jackman won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, but is perhaps best known for his role as Wolverine in the X-Men series.

And he is passionate about eradicating poverty through business.  He is a social entrepreneur who sees world poverty as the great issue of our day.

Read about it in this excerpt from an interview with Kevin Conley.

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Hugh’s dad was a partner in Price Waterhouse Australia. … “My dad’s main client was the World Bank,” Jackman says, “and he spent most of his time traveling to Third World countries.  His particular interest lay in the eradication of poverty through development and business.”  [Jackman’s wife, Deborra-Lee Furness] says [Hugh is] his father’s son in that regard – a “secret economist,” according to her – and he always has some treatise by Jeffrey Sachs or Mohammed Yunus on his nightstand.  It was Yunus, the Bangladeshi banker who won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in microcredit, who suggested that Jackman capitalize on his high profile by founding a social business, Paul Newman-style.  This led to Laughing Man coffee (motto: “All Be Happy”), which does business in fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate, with all profits going to charity.  Jackman helps guide the money to such funds as World Vision and Global Poverty Project.

When I express skepticism at the idea of chocolate eradicating poverty, Jackman gets excited, even a little intense.  I can practically hear the snikt of the Wolverine’s claws.  “In our generation people said the same thing.  But this is our version of slavery.  And since the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals were set, in the last 13 years extreme poverty is close to half what it used to be.”  Jackman sounds very reasonable on the subject, so much so that he soon has me convinced that ending world poverty is an attainable goal.

You can read the full article here.

A Growing Awareness

It is great to see celebrities using their status to bring about positive change.  And it is great to hear about an intelligent and thoughtful celebrity who understands that business can play a role in solving global problems such as poverty.

But this article highlights something more important.  To me, it indicates that the awareness that business has an important role to play is becoming more mainstream.  It isn’t just the pet interest of social entrepreneurs or academic theorists or a few business people.  It is now of interest to Hollywood superstars and celebrity interviewers and lifestyle magazines.  In a previous post, I noted the trend in business magazines to feature stories that reflect generational thinking.  But this is even more mainstream.

There is still a long way to go before the general public will accept business as a solution, rather than a problem.  In too many cases, businesses are still part of the problem.  (I recently read an interesting discussion about why this happens, which I will save for another blog post.)  For now, I appreciate those like Hugh Jackman who have not only understood the good that business can do, but are speaking out and actively working to develop businesses that contribute to the solution.

How mainstream do you believe the idea is that business can solve global problems?  Do you know of other celebrities who are bringing attention to the good side of business?

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