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Turning pennies into gold

Family businesses are uniquely positioned to give forward and create impacts more far-reaching than they could ever imagine. Scott McCulloch explains.


When someone does a good deed for you, instead of paying them back, pay it forward by doing a good deed for someone else.

Once upon a time, an enterprise was born, emerged as a force, and sought to give back.

Today, the inverse is true, especially for progressive family businesses. Philanthropy is not simply a means of giving back, it’s a way of giving forward.

Here’s one example how.

About seven years ago, Renata Ltd., a family-owned pharma company in Bangladesh, began manufacturing sachets of vitamin and mineral powders that could be mixed into infant meals for 3 cents (US) per sachet.

The company teamed up with a local NGO and GAIN, a Swiss-based foundation, to sell and market the product to vulnerable families in remote and rural areas.

Renata’s investment swiftly went on to benefit more than five million children on a commercially sustained basis.

Globally, some two billion people lack basic micronutrients such as iron and vitamin A,

according to GAIN or Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.

Renata’s approach to giving forward went beyond traditional charity. It acted on its values of “health activism” through innovation and partnerships.


Renata addressed a root cause of social problems like malnutrition through social innovation and multi-sector collaboration.

The family business turned pennies into gold because it leveraged its expertise and resources to reach those in need.

Today, Renata allocates more than $760,000 (US) of net profits to multiple charitable organizations in Bangladesh.

It’s been said that business can be a force for good. The maxim couldn’t be truer, especially for family businesses.

Worldwide family businesses account for two-thirds of enterprises. They contribute to a more than 70% of global GDP and employ 60% of the workforce.

Indeed, the World Business Council for Sustainable Business, which works with 200 CEOs globally, believes the corporate sector offers the best opportunity for saving the world.

Big words. Yet they’re true because making a significant impact often comes with a significant price a tag. And yes, the corporate sector has deeper pockets than most.

Of course, cynics say Company A will support Initiative B because there’s something in it for them.

There often is. And for those who they support. That’s a win-win.

Brian Jones, founder of Nuts and Bolts of PR, asks: “Do businesses give back because they care or because it helps their business grow? If the answer is the latter, should it matter?”

It’s a great question.

“Let’s say a company participates in a beach cleanup for selfish reasons – so they can look good on social media,” Jones states in Entrepreneur. “The beach still got cleaned, right?”

Perhaps the answer to Jones’s question is that it doesn’t matter.

Businesses give forward not just because it’s good business but because, morally, it’s the right thing to do.


Scott McCulloch is a North American media consultant.

Engaging in philanthropic ventures as a family business

Motivated by impact: A new generation seek to make their mark

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