Mark Zuckerberg and his wife pledged to give away virtually all of their $46 billion in Facebook Inc. shares, setting a new philanthropic benchmark by committing their massive fortune to charitable causes while still in their early 30s.
Facebook’s chief executive officer and his wife, Priscilla Chan, unveiled the plan in an open letter to their newborn daughter, Max (short for Maxima), in a Facebook post on Tuesday, promising to donate 99 percent of their stock in the social-networking company “during our lives.”
The pledge puts Zuckerberg in the same league with other billionaires who are giving away the bulk of their wealth, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. The key difference is that Zuckerberg is starting at an earlier age, 31. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was created in 2000, the year the Microsoft Corp. co-founder turned 45.
Zuckerberg doesn’t plan to contribute more than $1 billion a year for at least the next three years, Facebook said in a separate filing, meaning the CEO will maintain voting control of the Menlo Park, California-based company for the foreseeable future.
Zuckerberg outlined his philanthropic goals, which will focus on “advancing human potential and promoting equality,” in the letter to his daughter, who was born early last week. Zuckerberg will make long-term investments in areas such as health and education, while working to decrease inequality and building technology to bring about change.
“Our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here,” Zuckerberg and Chan wrote. “But right now, we don’t always collectively direct our resources at the biggest opportunities and problems your generation will face.”
He added that he will remain Facebook’s CEO for “many, many years to come, but these issues are too important to wait until you or we are older to begin this work.”
While Zuckerberg pegged the donation amount on the current value of his Facebook stock, the value of the gift could also grow. Shares of Facebook have climbed more than 180 percent since their market debut in 2012, and 90 percent of analysts who cover the company have a buy rating on the stock, meaning they expect it to go up. At the same time, the figure could be lower if investors determine in the future that Facebook’s stock is worth less.
It’s unusual for an executive to undertake such a broad philanthropic effort at so young an age. Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. who has committed almost all of his fortune to charity, has singled out Zuckerberg as someone who can set an example for a new generation of philanthropists.
“He has an audience that’s just totally different than what I would have,” Buffett, 85, said last year at a conference in Las Vegas. The Facebook co-founder previously signed the Giving Pledge, established by Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, in which billionaires agree to donate the majority of their fortunes to charity.
Buffett, whose current net worth is $64.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, decided to commit most of his Berkshire stock to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation when he was 75, after his the death of his first wife in 2004.
Before devoting himself to philanthropy, Gates chose to focus on his company rather than charitable efforts, much to the dismay of his own mother and local Seattle business and philanthropic leaders, Tom Alberg, co-founder of Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group, said in a recent interview. It was after the death of Mary Gates in the mid-90s that Gates began his first significant foray into charitable giving.
The Gates’s charitable foundation, now worth $41.3 billion, has given away more than $34 billion. Gates started the organization in 2000, subsuming two earlier entities: the William H. Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation. Both of the men have mentored Zuckerberg in his philanthropy efforts.
“On behalf of future generations, I thank them,” Buffett said of Zuckerberg and Chan in a statement.
There’s also one more thing in common with the philanthropic endeavors of Buffett, Gates and Zuckerberg: they reduce their tax bills, as the contributions are tax-deductible.
Zuckerberg isn’t new to philanthropy; he’s given to several education and health-related causes in the past few years. He and his wife recently started a school in one of Silicon Valley’s disadvantaged neighborhoods and a trauma center in San Francisco General Hospital, where Chan has worked as a pediatrician. The couple this week also started a coalition with Gates to invest in sustainable energy solutions. The new Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will be a limited liability company controlled by Mark and Priscilla, the couple said.
Today, 99 percent of Zuckerberg’s Facebook holdings have a value of $45 billion. If it was all to be gifted at once that would be enough to create the largest U.S. foundation, according to data compiled by Foundation Center. The pledge also situates Zuckerberg and Chan in a century-long tradition of American philanthropists that stretches back to industrialists Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller, whose foundations still rank among the biggest in the country.
“I absolutely think this propels Zuckerberg and his wife into that sphere,” said Berit Ashla, vice president at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. “They clearly are not going to be siloed grantmakers. I anticipate they will be quite interdisciplinary in terms of how they approach the work.”
Nigerian Energy Startup Secures $2M Investment From Shell-Owned Fund
Nigerian startup Infibranches Technologies, which helps solar energy providers manage their operations and receive payments, has secured US$2 million funding from All On, an impact investment company backed by oil major Shell.
Founded in 2019, the Lagos-based Infibranches has developed two flagship products – OmniBranches and Green Energy Plug – that help companies with large distribution networks, particularly solar home system distributors and mini-grid developers, manage their operations.
OmniBranches is a management platform with features that include agent hierarchy management, commission tracking, transaction records, transaction analytics, and profile management, while Green Energy Plug is a single point of integration for payments and other financial services for service providers in the Nigerian renewable energy sector.
So far the company has served over one million customers and processed over US$120 million in transactions, and the US$2 million All On investment will be used to support the next stage of its growth by financing inventory, agent acquisition, and product and technology development, as well as providing working capital for Infibranches’ plans to distribute solar home systems for households and commercial users across Nigeria, with a special focus in the Niger Delta.
“Through this investment, Infibranches plans to speed up customer acquisition in its current markets. This will also improve existing products like Omnibranches, which has served over a million customers and introduce new products and services to address energy distribution issues,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Olusola Owoyemi.
Dr Wiebe Boer, chief executive of All On, commended Infibrances for its innovative business model that solves payments and collections problems solar system distributors and mini-grid developers face across Nigeria.
“This partnership merges fintech and renewables in a way we haven’t seen in Nigeria before and will enable tens of thousands of new electricity connections,” he said.
Verve Partners NIMC to Improve National Identity Management System
Positioned as a torchbearer for inclusive digitization, Africa’s leading payment cards & token business, Verve has thrown its support behind the Federal Government’s efforts to create a robust digitization framework for comprehensive identity management for Nigerians.
The Nigerian government ramped up its digital identity management campaign to ensure a proper and foolproof identification system, as obtained in most countries across the globe.
In 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) joined the coalition calling for the recognition of September 16 as International Identity Day to further consolidate its target of a comprehensive digital identity management system.
Verve, on its part as a leading card & digital payment scheme in Africa and a champion of digitized identity management solutions, has lent its support to this national undertaking of strategic importance.
According to the NIMC, the digital identity ecosystem includes players in both the private and public sectors to improve the commission’s reach across the nation. Players in the sectors include qualified private vendors who will provide data collection services and issue National Identification Number (NIN) under the National Identity Management System (NIMS) programme.
The commission seeks to enroll all Nigerians and legal residents in a centralized identity database, with the aim of creating an authentication channel that would foster seamless and safe local and foreign transactions.
Verve, as a provider of safe and seamless payment solutions, through its technology framework possesses the expertise and capacity to provide contemporary digitized identification solutions. This positions Verve as a suitable partner in the ongoing public identity digitization drive, providing structures that will advance the goals of the NIMC.
Marking this year’s National Identity Day at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Divisional Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) for Payment Cards and Digital Tokens, Interswitch Group, Vincent Ogbunude, restated the firm’s commitment towards supporting a digital ecosystem in tandem with the aims of the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.
Ogbunude said, “Verve is proud to be supporting the federal government on this project. This partnership underpins our commitment and investment to grow the digital identity management system in Nigeria. At Interswitch we understand the critical place for identity, indeed we believe that a person’s identity is a fundamental human right that should not be trifled with.”
Emphasizing the importance of having an identity management database for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and the 7th most populous nation in the world, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said that a comprehensive identity database was important in identifying the total number of residents in the country.
He also noted that a digitized identity management system would aid the government in crafting a proper national budget to better cater to the needs of Nigerians.
The minister pointed out that the digital national identification exercise would serve as a convenient substitute for frequent census exercises, “if the database is updated”.
Flutterwave, 9PSB Partner to Boost Growth of Inclusive Financial Services in Nigeria
Flutterwave, Africa’s leading payments technology company and Nigeria’s very first payment service bank, 9PSB on Monday entered into a partnership agreement that will help facilitate seamless financial services for Nigerians.
In a joint statement issued by both companies, the partnership seeks to create a seamless payment ecosystem by aggregating and simplifying transactions for banking agents, merchants, and consumers.
The partnership will also support the drive for economic growth through empowerment of the SME sector, entrepreneurs in FinTech and other industries, as well as contribute to the transformation of the informal sector to formal.
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, held at the 9PSB head office in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, 9PSB, Branka Mracajac remarked that the collaboration between 9PSB and Flutterwave represents an important milestone in making banking services accessible to all.
According to her, the partnership supports both companies’ commitment to expand accessibility and serve as last-mile delivery of solutions to the unbanked, under-banked and underserved. She said, “9PSB, being focused on the presence in unserved, rural, and remote areas, has a unique business model that provides Agent Banking as a Service to our partners to drive financial inclusion. Expanding on our promise to deliver relevant products, with this partnership, our existing agents, partners, and customers will have a single point of entry to enjoy various products and services provided by Flutterwave.”
With this partnership, Flutterwave and 9PSB are jointly launching a suite of products to enable other corporate entities, FinTech, technology and other industries to take advantage of the robust end-to-end system available for payments, collections, and transactions for both the banked and financially excluded Nigerians.
Commenting on the choice of 9PSB as its settlement bank, Founder and CEO, Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola noted that both companies share the same vision and are committed to one goal of powering seamless financial services. “At Flutterwave, we believe in an ecosystem of shared value that transforms and impacts society. We are showcasing the power of strategic partnership and cross-sectoral collaboration in advancing Nigeria’s financial ecosystem,” he said.
A paper published by the CBN—Financial Inclusion in Nigeria; Issues and Challenges, admits that there is global consensus on the importance of financial inclusion due to its key role in bringing integrity and stability into an economy’s financial system as well as its role in fighting poverty in a sustainable manner. The partnership between 9PSB and Flutterwave keys into various calls for interconnectivity and interoperability amongst stakeholders in the financial sector in accelerating the country’s financial inclusion drive to create prosperity and grow the economy.
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