Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 27th 2017 Contents JULY 27 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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T&T is home to some of
the most successful
businessmen in the
Scores of local en-
trepreneurs have built
large enterprises that span the region
through their acumen, guile and the
pillars of a society that, in spite of all
its shortfall, has provided them with
sufficient levels of support---fiscal,
financial and otherwise.
Building a business is no easy task,
and those who have done it at the high-
est level---and done so legitimately---
deserve every measure of wealth and
adulation bestowed upon them.
Fundamentally, though, the ques-
tion that must be asked is: how many
of these tycoons are concerned with
Naive capitalism supports the ac-
cumulation of wealth for the satisfy-
ing of one's own needs and that of his
family posterity. Certainly that's one
element of a legacy. But what if we ex-
pand the perimeters of capitalism and
legacy-building to focus on something
much broader than that; much broader
than the mere accumulation of wealth
for intergenerational transfer.
If we expanded the idea of capitalism
to focus on the notion that beyond re-
mitting taxes, our successful business-
men (and women) should be concerned
with doing more for a society that has
done so much for them.
In the developed world, the idea of
businessmen cementing their legacies
borders on obsession. For example, in
the United States businessmen give
away millions of dollars each year to
various academic institutions, to fund
research in areas such as medicine and
science, technology, engineering and
math (STEM) and to solve some of the
most challenging and complex issues
facing civilisation today. (The Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation is a classic
example of an organisation trying to
accomplish all three).
Where do T&T's businessmen stand
with respect to such legacies today?
Without a doubt, our local business-
men owe nothing more to society than
to conduct their affairs legally and to
"render to Caesar, Caesar's things."
That said, can our local business moguls
augment the value of their overall so-
cietal impact in new and distinguished
ways? The answer is yes.
In this regard, I see two outstanding
examples of legacy building by two of
the best entrepreneurs this country has
ever produced: Arthur Lok Jack and the
late Dr Anthony N Sabga.
Mr Lok Jack gave his name---along
with a significant financial contribu-
tion---to an academic institution that
will be around long after he himself
expires. In the case of Dr Sabga, the
Caribbean awards that bear his name
has given millions of dollars to deserving
laureates since its inception in 2005.
Both of these gentlemen have se-
cured their legacies. There is nothing
that stops more of our successful en-
trepreneurs from engaging in acts like
these. Undoubtedly, many are engaged
in charitable work of one kind or the
other. More power to them. But the idea
of a legacy dictates that their giving be
institutionalised or, put differently, that
they contribute in ways that build and
support enduring institutions.
T&T is ripe with issues waiting for
institutionalised solutions. A good ex-
ample of this is the Rockefeller Foun-
dation. Started by one of the wealthiest
businessman in history, John D Rocke-
feller (in today's dollars his net worth
would be around US$300 billion), the
foundation has been around for 104
years and as the declarative statement
says it has "a legacy of trailblazing new
fields, convening unlikely partners, and
sparking new innovations that lead to
Annually the foundation provides
over $100 million in grants to support
education, medical research, agricul-
tural research and countless other ini-
tiatives. The Rockefeller Foundation is
unquestionably an institution. Beyond
just piling up and giving his money
away, Rockefeller accomplished some-
thing much greater. He accomplished
the immortality of his name.
Our local moguls have every oppor-
tunity to do the same.
If we expanded the idea of capitalism to focus
on the notion that beyond remitting taxes,
our successful businessmen (and women)
should be concerned with doing more for a
society that has done so much for them.
ARTHUR LOK JACK
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