Could Your Business be Giving Back?

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Mark Williams, an “RDM dad”, shares with us the story of a recent trip he took to Cambodia to make a difference.   


Mark, you recently went on a trip to Cambodia. What were you doing out there?

I was on a study tour with an organisation called B1G1 (Buy 1 Give 1) – Business for Good. They are a global business giving initiative on a mission to create a world full of giving. They make it easy for purpose-driven businesses worldwide to make a positive impact by giving back in meaningful ways. 

As part of the tour we visited and/ or participated in 5 projects that B1G1 supports. Just one of the many activities was building a new playground for a rural primary school that didn’t previously have a playground. Seeing the happiness and appreciation in the children’s eyes was unforgettable. They were so eager to play that they piled on to the equipment before it was even cemented in (certainly an OH&S issue and a big no-no) but they simply couldn’t contain themselves. Such a simple thing but having a playground at school provides enjoyment for children that can help keep them at school, rather than dropping out and staying at home to work or help the family.

We were also able to ride and deliver 50 bicycles to children at another school. Children often need to travel upwards of 10km to school without transport and simply having a bicycle to get there can be the difference between them attending and dropping out.


What inspired you to get involved?

My workplace recently joined as a member of B1G1 and the reason that I chose to attend was to experience in person some of the projects that B1G1 work with and support, to gain inspiration and motivation to further implement and drive B1G1 in our business and to network with fellow like-minded business owners. The trip was on behalf of my business, Caunt and Lowbeer (we are an Accounting and Business Advisory firm based in Chatswood).


What did you experience and see that was different to how we live in Australia?

I experienced a different world than we here in Australia live and are accustomed to. Basics like access to clean water, shelter, food and education are often a challenge for many families and children in countries like Cambodia. What we take for granted here is often a luxury over there. In saying that, Cambodians are very friendly, hospitable and are appreciative of what they have (which is often very little).

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How rewarding was the experience? What impact do you think you had?

It was an extremely rewarding experience and was incredibly eye opening. It reminded me of how truly fortunate we are to simply reside in a country like Australia. With privilege and power comes responsibility – and this tour was a big reminder to me that we (those more fortunate) have a responsibility to help those less fortunate.


The biggest learning for me was that education is the key to changing the world. It really is the only sustainable way to get people out of poverty. It’s both education for children (to give them more opportunities to create better lives for themselves and their families) and also educating families, parents and elders of the importance of education and ensuring that their children attend and stay in school and beyond. Often the living pressures at home make it difficult for parents to send children – both the cost of sending them (as government funding is so little – we learned it is $3.50 USD per year per primary student in Siem Reap) and the loss of their labour to help at home e.g. on the farm, to help the family earn money.

Another factor is child (sex) trafficking, and children who don’t attend school are so much more vulnerable to this. One organisation we visited was called Free To Shine, which aims to prevent sex trafficking by helping keep young girls in school.


How can others get involved or contribute in some way?

Businesses can get involved by joining B1G1 as a member. There is a nominal membership fee, which covers operational costs of B1G1. 100% of any giving goes directly to the projects that you select and there are over 800 projects now all over the world. My personal giving philosophy is that I aim for the biggest impact (i.e. biggest bang for buck) whenever I give. B1G1 has a very thorough due diligence process when selecting organisations or projects and they tend to work with smaller organisations where the majority, if not all of the funds, go directly to where it’s needed, unlike some non-profits/ charities where large amounts can be absorbed by overheads and other operational costs.

Individuals can also create a personal giving account and make contributions to any of the projects.

B1G1 hold this study tour each year and they also hold annual conferences that members can attend.


Do you think you’ll participate again?

Absolutely. It was an incredible experience and something that I think we’ll send some of our team on in future. I would also love to participate again with my wife and children (but they’re too young for a few years yet). Another factor was also the tour group – who were all like-minded individuals who truly cared about making a difference and giving back to those less fortunate. It was quite an emotional journey to experience and share with others on the tour.

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