2017: coming soon

Giving something back: personal perspectives

Three leading philanthropists share their personal and innovative approaches to tackling inequality



Dr Stephen Riady

Dr Stephen Riady is the Executive Chairman of Singapore integrated developer OUE Limited and President of the Lippo Group of companies

I believe that every human being should have the opportunity to develop their talent to its fullest potential, regardless of age, gender, socio-economic or ethnic background. This belief has led me to set up the Stephen Riady Group of Foundations, which we established in 2010.

Guided by my personal philosophy, the Foundations are dedicated to improving the lives of the less privileged through education, empowerment and engagement. For me, education lies at the heart of improving both people’s lives and social mobility, empowering them to make a difference and engaging others so as to make a greater impact and serve the community.

Since its inception, the Group of Foundations has donated to various worthy causes and hopes to inspire and instil a sense of social responsibility in future generations. Among the key causes are education and skills building, health and sports, humanitarian and social development and environmental conservation.

To encourage greater understanding and awareness of natural disasters and the effects of climate change, I set up the Stephen Riady Geosciences Scholars Fund at the Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University to help graduate students pursue research in geosciences. This is part of our commitment to ensuring more sustainable communities in Asia and making the world a safer place for everyone.

The Middle East

Muna Easa Al Gurg

Muna Easa Al Gurg is Director of Retail for Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, Chairwoman of Young Arab Leaders UAE and board member of Emirates Foundation and Easa Saleh Al Gurg Charity Foundation

Philanthropy is a key part of my DNA. As a young child, I was always listening to stories about the family foundation and how we were building schools and clinics, or providing various scholarships in Africa, India and all over the world. As an adult, after having acquired experience and wealth, I started thinking ‘what am I going to do?’ in order to follow in the footsteps of the foundation and give something back.

I was always very interested in working with young people, so I started off with the Young Arab Leaders – at first as a member, then moving to join on the board and eventually as chairwoman. At that time in the Middle East there was a huge problem with unemployment and striking – it was just going crazy.

Subsequently we rolled out a number of programmes aimed at tackling this issue by empowering young people to achieve their potential. I also recently started a scholarship in my name for Arab women, at London Business School. As we know, the rotation of wealth in a country is crucial to the growth and development of its economy.

When you are examining gender inequality, it is very important to have a balance of both genders within organisations and this scholarship looks at that. Once you have created wealth in your lifetime, I believe it is your responsibility to turn that wealth to the greater good of society.


Tony Elumelu, a Nigerian, is one of Africa’s most influential businessmen. In 2010 he established the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which promotes entrepreneurship across the continent

Central to Africa’s growth is the rapidly expanding private sector, fuelled in part by record-breaking foreign investment into increasingly diverse sectors and investment by Africans into other parts of the continent, which is growing at an even faster rate.

Africa does have its challenges; chief among them is a rapidly increasing population of working-age adults, which will be the largest on the planet by 2050. Ensuring the private sector continues to flourish is the best way to meet the needs of this expanding workforce.

However, to avoid the widening income and opportunity gap plaguing many developed economies, Africa’s growth must be inclusive. Achieving this requires businesses to act deliberately, while the public sector builds an environment that is globally competitive. This underpins my own foundation’s endeavours, which include the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme, a 10-year $100 million commitment to create 10,000 African entrepreneurs.

Known as “Africapitalism”, this sustainable approach to philanthropy is an economic philosophy that encourages long-term investment in strategic sectors to help create broad economic and social wealth. Africapitalism will help build societies in ways that generate opportunities for advancement for all Africans – lifting millions out of poverty.