Harvee Pene has known since he was 14 years old that business is not always an easy path. The author, TEDx speaker and co-founder of Inspire – Life Changing Accountants, has been dealing with tough situations for most of his life.
He was born into a poor New Zealand family that immigrated to Australia when he was a child and got into business early – as he describes – “as a means of survival.”
And that’s one of the reasons why he understands all too well what it’s like to lack money, education and hope. That’s why UN Sustainable Development Goal 1: No Poverty is an ideal fit for Harvee and his innovative accounting firm. He puts it this way:
“No Poverty is important to me because I’ve experienced first-hand what it’s like to grow up with nothing and getting into business as a way to survive.”
Yet Harvee’s life experience (particularly recently) has helped him realize that it’s not as difficult as many people think to make a major impact in other people’s lives. When visiting The John Fawcett Foundation – a B1G1 Worthy Cause project in Bali, Indonesia – he witnessed impoverished villagers getting their sight restored.
That had a special impact on Harvee — he is blind on one eye himself. And this Bali experience showed him how important sight can be for self-confidence and independence.
“It blew me away that for about $50 USD I could give someone the gift of sight again,” he recalls.
Another day… another dollar?
That experience in Bali put Harvee on a mission to up his game and turn his work into a real force for good.
He now uses his firm with his business partner Ben Walker, the Brisbane-based Inspire, to help other Aussies who are struggling to keep their small businesses up and running.
When these businesses remain unprofitable, the owners, often young families, are forced to reduce their own salaries just to keep the business afloat. By providing affordable accounting services, Inspire helps these businesses to “cash up” and maximize their capital when it matters most.
But Harvee and the rapidly-growing Inspire team don’t stop at helping Australian businesses owners. “As accountants we love numbers,” Harvee says, “but when we found out that almost a billion people live on about a dollar a day, we knew we had to do something.”
By partnering with B1G1, they now support one full day of access to food, water, health or sanitation to a family in need for every tax dollar they save small businesses.
Called “Day for Dollar”, this initiative has resulted in over 8 million impactful days of help in 16 countries to date.
The inner fire to create a legacy
By 2030, Harvee hopes that “Day for Dollar” will reach 1 Billion days of help to families in need. This sounds ambitious, but he and his enthusiastic team at Inspire are up to the task.
He hopes his company can also serve as a model for others to become a Business for Good – especially those companies that become more profitable as a result of his services. He believes that when business owners have more, they can not only live more, but also give more.
His legacy of creating a “culture of impact”, he hopes, will advance from business to business and person to person, helping those in need as it spreads.
“Creating a culture of impact is like starting a small fire. Once you have the fire ablaze, your goal as a leader is to protect that flame and keep it alight.”
Harvee and aptly-named Inspire are doing just that every single day. And they’re now widely recognized as one of the most inspiring accounting firms worldwide.