Eight-ish years ago I was on my way to a conference, when I saw a distressed lady, covered in dirt, rummaging through a commercial bin. This poor woman was stood, barely clothed on top of a pile of cardboard; her thin arms digging into the rubbish in a odd sort of yoga bend, searching for what food, I assumed.
It was an early summer morning in London. The kind when the smell from urine and kebabs mingled uncomfortably close.
With time to spare, I hit upon the idea of buying her food. Off I went, silently bathing in the nice warm glow that was surely to mine, from my forthcoming, ‘selfless act’. But all did not go to plan. When I tried to give her the bag, she spat at me and started screaming obscenities while clumbering out of the bin, to chase me… My warm glow; replaced by cursing myself for being ‘soft’ as I swiftly darted across the road.
Later on I got to thinking, ‘who was I to try to help this woman?’, she didn’t ask me. The reality of that situation is the woman needed help, but wasn’t able to receive it. So many of us are in these type of situations daily, though maybe not in a London bin.
Life is cyclical. For what you gain, you cannot take to the grave with you. You must reinvest it. We are always giving, whether its through shouting obsentities at people, or trying to do the right thing. Giving is not a charitable pursuit; just a human one.
I often turn to meditation to not indulge my moral outrage at unscrupulous people I meet in business. I tell myself, they too will reinvest their profits. If for them, that’s in super yatchs and mansions, who am I, to comment. Money is a tool, not a measure.
My own ‘super yatch’ has always been giving. Not because I’m a sweet, caring, kind and compassionate person (though, I try).
Unfortunately, I am just not the least bit interested in material possessions. I live in a tiny apartment and my most treasured possession is my passport. This isn’t martyrdom. Giving is a selfish act. A warm glow that is not for sale without the recipients acceptance (as I found out when I angered the lady in the bin).
My passion for giving came from a sense of justice I felt I was soul bound to deliver. Perhaps I’d watched a bit too much Kavannah QC as a child.
I earned a law degree and teetered the courts of The Old Bailey until my moral compass shifted me to start GiveWhatYoureGoodAt.com. Where I was to learn first hand about low impact and high overhead problems inherent to all charities.
I spent most of 2015 working in ‘developing countries’. The impact of seeing real poverty, kept me awake at night. I saw a man fighting a pigeon for food in Bogota. I saw women selling their own little daughters into sex trafficking in Cambodia. These moments and countless more tortured me.
An illuminating moment came when I meet a toothless little boy who had rescued an injured cat in La Paz, Bolivia. His innocent smile and pride as he gazed up at me, as if to say ‘look at this wonderful cat’ will stay with me forever. Though he was in dire poverty I felt like he’d gifted me riches beyond description: the joy in the pursuit of helping your fellow man, or cat.
I do not write this to glamourise poverty. The only fools who do, have never known it. I write it to unmask the benelovent face of giving. We give to help ourselves. The two are wonderfully interlinked.
Today, feels like santa clause has finally delivered my ‘super yatch’ because I get to announce The Clozer Foundation. Study after study has proven it is better to give the money directly to the people in need, rather than through aid organisations. It was always my dream to give cash away at scale and now I am building a business that will benefit from doing just that.
Clozer will give a % of all profits to its Foundation which will grant a cash for people without means, to start their own business. Those businesses may just come back as Clozer client, making the whole process of giving perennial.
It humbles me that our Clozers and businesses will be part of an ecosystem that prioritizes giving back. We will start to realise grants as soon as we break-even, so please help us in our mission of seeding peoples dreams by sharing this announcement.
And if you have a dream yourself, but lack the means, register for your Clozer grant and start your journey into giving. www.goclozer.com/foundation
With love always,