You’ll know that famous adage: “If you give a man a fish you can feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish you can feed him for a lifetime.”
Chris Beks, principal of the Victoria-based Ceebeks Business Solutions for Good accounting firm, imbues precisely that philosophy in both his business practices and in his giving. It also meshes perfectly with Chris’s chosen UN Sustainable Development Goal, SDG #2: Zero Hunger. What better way, indeed, to eliminate hunger than to give everyone the means to feed themselves?
ONE KIND GESTURE
You could say that understanding the problem of hunger is in Chris’s DNA.
Part of a large group of Dutch migrant workers who came to Australia following the desolation of World War II, Chris’s father and two uncles came to Bathurst, New South Wales in search of opportunities. Hungry and short on money and with few employment prospects, they made their way to the Melbourne area to a hostel run by a Dutch priest. The priest provided the young men with room and board at a desperate time of need in exchange for doing odd jobs around the hostel.
This part of Chris’s family history stuck with him. It became especially relevant during Chris’s childhood when his parents often struggled to support their seven children. Food was something they could not afford to take for granted – and not a morsel was ever wasted.
Chris remembers seeing documentaries as a child which depicted haunting images of children in Africa with little to no food. Again that solidified his understanding of food insecurity in the world and fueled his commitment to find a way to end hunger. Since Chris has seen his own family overcoming hunger firsthand, he has always seen finding a solution as absolutely possible.
“Zero hunger is an achievable goal for our modern world,” he says.
In the same way his household was sure never to waste food, he sees opportunities to repurpose and distribute excess food from areas where it is overabundant to areas of need. In his own community of Warrnambool, Victoria he supports a district “food share” network to this end.
Chris is determined to use his accounting business as way not just to support individual projects like the Warrnambool food share, but to empower his clients to leverage their own successes to make positive changes in the world as well.
A BUSINESS BUILT FOR CHANGE
When Chris first started Ceebeks in the 90’s, he immediately began to sponsor a child for food and nutrition through World Vision Australia, setting in motion the intertwining of his business success with his broader vision for change in the world. This comes easily for Chris. He doesn’t distinguish his business goals from those of his giving activities – he ensures that they are all part of the same process.
And now, with B1G1 as an integral part of his business, his partners and his clients are closely involved in his company’s giving.
“Simply by choosing to work with us means that our customers will be contributing to this growing movement of businesses changing the world,” he says.
For every new customer or service provided, Ceebeks contributes a fixed percentage of its resulting revenue to Business for Good. Chris sees a “Better Business” as one that doesn’t just stand for its own members and profit, but also takes a stand for making the world a better place for everyone. Locally, each week a Ceebeks team member spends 2 hours helping the local Food Share with sorting, stocking shelves, packing food hampers, and assisting collectors. This hands-on work is part of the commitment to change that is ingrained into the company’s culture.
ANYONE CAN CREATE A LEGACY
Chris is proud of how his small but dedicated team, which he affectionately dubs the “Fab Five”, is fully bought in to the concept of giving and is able to make meaningful contributions to local, national and global efforts.
He would ultimately like his legacy to be a firm imprint on his local community in the form of a self-sustaining funding model for the Warrnambool Food Share. With community support, he feels that enough cash flow for 12 months of continuous operation is definitely achievable. It may seem like a small goal, but Chris thrives on the B1G1 philosophy of ‘the Power of Small’ in his business as well.
“I started our business to make a real difference in people’s lives – I wanted to change the world by changing one person’s lifestyle at a time!”
His advice to those who also want to make a positive impact is not to be afraid to start small. Like so many other Legacy Makers, he has seen how the smallest of efforts can combine – like individual drops of water in a vast ocean – to make profound changes in the lives of others.