Bloomberg Philanthropies' Verna Eggleston on why doing good is good business

Doing good is an important and recurring theme in B2B business and marketing, and “doing good is not only good for business, doing good is just good,” noted Verna Eggleston of Bloomberg Philanthropies who spoke recently at the Business Marketing Association regional meeting held at the Bloomberg Tower in Manhattan this month.

This adage is ongoing at Bloomberg LP, the multibillion dollar global business and financial information and news leader whose CEO Michael Bloomberg is not only the 13th richest man in the world and a three-term mayor of New York City from 2002-2013, but is a renowned philanthropist.

Mr. Bloomberg has famously stated that, “he will give away all of his money when he dies or after he dies. His primary commitment is that the check bounces to the funeral home,” said Eggleston.

“Since Mr. Bloomberg was a 12-year old boy scout and his parents told him he had to give back, he did,” Eggleston added. “He encourages all Bloomberg employees across the board to give back. Mr. Bloomberg rewards volunteerism. He encourages us to think differently about what we already know. “

Bloomberg Philanthropies works with hospitals, countries, cities, unique causes, the Arts, and parks, and college bound youth. It covers the gamut.

Eggleston has been primarily involved in a partnership called Women to Women International and Sustainable Harvest which supports women entrepreneurs in sub-saharan Africa.

“Mr. Bloomberg wants to invest in people in a sustaining way so they can invest in their own communities by offering workforce training that gives game changing jobs and work skills,” Eggleston said. “In training 146,000 African women, it has impacted 300,000 of their children.”

Most recently, more than 800 women in Rwanda graduated from a year-long training program run by Bloomberg Philanthropies partner Sustainable Harvest .

It taught best practices for growing and harvesting coffee. These women in two rural farming districts of post-conflict Rwanda were taught to deliver high-quality coffee to buyers around the globe. In 2013 Women for Women International opened its landmark Women’s Opportunity Center (WOC) in the Kayonza district of Rwanda. There is classroom space where women can learn new business skills and meet with other groups.

“In order for the women to bring the coffee from crop to cup, we stressed it was important to know where it was picked and who picked it and that it was the highest quality product. In coffee growing and picking coffee it is important that the coffee is cherry red in color when it is picked. So in class we distributed a simple red bracelet and taught that you only pick the coffee that is this cherry red color. The women wore the bracelets when they picked the coffee. So, the coffee value went up and the quality and flavor of coffee was greater,” Eggleston said.

“We wanted to help bring the market value of the coffee up from a dollar to a dollar and 85 cents. We had 200 coffee growers go to Riwanda to taste the coffee. It is now on the market and it is on the shelves in the U.S.” Eggleston said.

“Mr. Bloomberg has said many times, ‘you articulate the problem very clearly. Now what is the solution? At Bloomberg Philanthropies we articulate the problem, we offer possible solutions and then we do the work. “

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