Business is always about the numbers. But there is also a need to look beyond the numbers, to identify the people and stories behind them as well as the human lives positively impacted by the dollars and cents.
This is what Kirsten Hawke sets out to do. A certified chartered accountant who heads accountancy firm BUSINESS Buddy, Kirsten does not see herself as a typical ‘bean counter’. Her chief aim is to connect her business to the larger goal of ending poverty all around the world and inspiring others to do the same.
Sensitised to others’ needs
Kirsten points to her New Zealander roots which first taught her to have a generous heart. There were things like the “coin trails”, which saw every schoolkid collecting money for people in other countries who were suffering due to natural disasters or wars. As she entered into her pre-teen years, Kirsten also committed to 40-hour famines and fundraised for special needs children in disadvantaged countries.
“I just grew up knowing there were others who were less fortunate. And when you can, you should do something to help,” added Kirsten.
She puts that into action now by connecting everything she does with the Sustainable Development Goal of ‘No Poverty’.
Kirsten saw the intricate and undeniable links between poverty and many of today’s social problems. For example, poverty leads to lifestyle inequalities and traps the disadvantaged into often vicious poverty cycles. The despair and anger create tensions in households and this infuses into communities and nations, she noted.
She continues, “Social inequality is everywhere. Even in relatively affluent New Zealand where everyone has a good basic standard of living, there is always a sick and disadvantaged child who will not be able to achieve the same outcomes as a well-to-do youth on the other side of town.”
Spreading the giving spirit at work and at home
This strong sense of social injustice inevitably fires her up and spurs her in her everyday work at BUSINESS Buddy.
In fact, at BUSINESS Buddy, all of the organisation’s goals strive for the benefit of those the company has immediate contact with, as well as those they may never meet.
She described the chain effect this way: When her firm helps a client achieve a business goal, a profitable business entity means employment opportunities and wages for the employees. The wages could mean a child will have shoes to wear or an individual has the means to pay medical bills for a loved one. All this could then further propel a country’s economic growth leading to better education, healthcare and infrastructure for the rest of the society.
“The vision to sustainably end poverty inspires me… it gets me out of bed and motivates me to have a great day at work.”
Outside the workplace, Kirsten also aims to inculcate the culture of giving at home.
Her family started with sponsoring a boy named Oscar who lives in a developing country. While this journey began on an uncertain footing with doubts on where their donation is going to, this eventually ended on a warm and positive note. The family later received a card from Oscar sharing about school and the books he was able to buy, and her children also learnt about the impact that one can make through a small donation.
The giving doesn’t stop at her immediate family, we learn, as Kirsten shares yet another example of how giving can be a fun and enjoyable experience for the entire community.
Kirsten’s family regularly makes financial contributions to the local children’s hospital and neonatal unit. But there was once when it involved collecting warm pyjamas to reduce hospital readmission rate for children living in a city. Soon, the family got others in the community to chip in to this effort too.
“Even the smallest contribution really does make a difference to the lives of others,” she says.
Paying it forward through B1G1
Kirsten is also cognisant of the need to look beyond her immediate surroundings and she is passionate about aligning her giving to the Global Goals.
With the “butterfly effect” in mind, Kirsten has signed up BUSINESS Buddy to be part of the B1G1 network. She strongly believes that as her business strives to delight more clients every day and grows, it will be able to contribute more to B1G1’s projects and towards alleviating global poverty.
Kirsten cited one of her favourite B1G1’s projects as that of providing one year’s worth of seeds to a family so that they can feed their children. This appeals to her sense of entrepreneurship because the seeds allow for harvesting and eventually creates a sustainable business and contributes to the long-term well-being of the family.
She firmly attests to the positive business impact in having the company’s goals aligned with the global movement and urges other business owners to join her on this journey.
And being busy or not knowing how to start isn’t a good excuse. Kirsten exclaims in response, “Just do it! B1G1 is so easy and the B1G1 [team does] the hard work of finding the projects, keeping you informed and providing resources to keep you, your clients and your staff motivated.”
To make it really simple, Kirsten offers three practical tips to business owners who want to take immediate action and contribute to SDG 1, ‘No Poverty’:
- Join B1G1, now! It is inexpensive and gives you the assurance that every dollar goes to a genuinely good cause. The collaborative impact of multiple, small contributions from across the globe makes a huge difference.
- Choose projects you’re passionate about to motivate commitment.
- Find a way to make small, regular contributions and make it a habit. this will be easier for your business’ cashflow and make a lasting impact too.
“The goodness created from one action never ends,” she said.
“Business owners can undoubtedly experience a better business, better life and better world by thinking beyond themselves and their own backyard, and then becoming part of something bigger such as B1G1.”