From the United Nations’ earliest days in the aftermath of World War II, the organization’s humanitarian mission has always dovetailed with Rotary’s efforts to administer aid and build peace. This year’s Rotary Day at the United Nations, 12 November, will highlight the role businesses can play in that collaboration as we work toward a more just and equitable world.
The theme of this year’s gathering at UN headquarters in New York City, “Responsible Business, Resilient Societies,” recognizes Rotary’s role at the intersection of commerce and cause. As leaders in their professions and communities, Rotary members often use their professional skills and networks to advance social causes, particularly economic development.
The six Rotary Responsible Business honorees and two business partners will be recognized at the UN gathering for their inclusive business practices and outstanding contributions to improving their communities.
- Juan Silva Beauperthuy, Rotary Club of Chacao, Venezuela: For 25 years, Beauperthuy has helped keep disadvantaged youths on the right track through Queremos Graduarnos, an education program focused on mentoring and skill development, with support from his engineering firm. Today, the program serves over 700 students in 18 schools.
- Jean-Paul Faure, Rotary Club of Cagnes-Grimaldi, France: To encourage young professionals and provide promising new businesses with training and funding, Faure launched a business contest called Le Trophée du Rotary. Now in its seventh year, the program has drawn support from a major bank and has kept past participants involved as mentors.
- Suresh Goklaney, Rotary Club of Bombay, India: Goklaney, executive vice chair of a large manufacturer of UV water purification systems, has led efforts to provide clean water in rural villages and impoverished urban areas throughout India. The project has also established centers where local women can sell clean water to generate income.
- Annemarie Mostert, Rotary Club of Southern Africa, South Africa: Mostert formed Sesego Cares, a Johannesburg-based nonprofit, in 2005 to offer education and job training, and to teach entrepreneurship and leadership development to women and children. She also worked with TOMS Shoes to mobilize 70 clubs in the country and provide 1.3 million pairs of its shoes.
- Stephanie Woollard, Rotary Club of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: After meeting seven illiterate craftspeople during a visit to Nepal, Woollard founded Seven Women to help Nepalese women make products to sell abroad. The program, which has trained and employed more than 1,000 women in the last decade, also teaches basic bookkeeping and computer skills.
- Larry Wright, Rotary Club of Taylor, Michigan, USA: A master gardener, Wright started his landscaping business with a bank loan in the 1970s. In 2013, he led an effort to adapt a microfinance model, which had succeeded abroad, to support entrepreneurs in bankruptcy-era Detroit, offering microloans, business classes, and mentorship.
- Coca-Cola Pakistan has supported the Rotary Pakistan National PolioPlus Charitable Trust since 2010 to promote vaccinations and awareness, particularly through publicity and projects to provide clean water, in one of the few remaining polio-endemic countries.
- Mercantil Banco Universal supports a project that has trained 6,000 students in 40 universities across Venezuela in social responsibility and leadership, with the goal of encouraging students to use their academic knowledge to respond to the challenges of underserved communities.
The Responsible Business program, expected to draw 1,500 participants, will include a recognition ceremony for the honorees, as well as panel discussions and youth activities.
Speakers and breakout sessions will focus on aspects of responsible business, such as education, innovation, partnerships, the needs of the world’s poorest people, the empowerment of women and youths, and how these issues relate to the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN’s ambitious framework for eliminating global poverty by 2030.