This blog post was originally written and published by Hearts on Fire, a Movement comprised of a Visionary Program and an Educational Initiative. The visionary program elevates a community of extraordinary individuals who are using their talents and passions to better the lives of others while sharing solutions to complex human challenges. The educational initiative tells the stories of today’s visionaries in order to inspire the next generation of concerned and compassionate citizens to become future leaders for social justice and change.
What happened to Carrie Rich when she was 26 years old sounds totally unbelievable. But, hold onto your seats, because the story she’s about to tell is true.
It starts at a business conference where Carrie found herself sitting next to a total stranger. They chatted briefly, exchanged business cards and that was that…until a year later when Carrie was emailing her family and friends for donations to help fund her idea for a non-profit startup. She wanted to call it The Global Good Fund.
From the age of 14, Carrie had been intent on creating good in the world. On a trip to Jamaica with a non-profit group, Teens for Technology, she had the opportunity to work with local businesses and teens her own age.
“I was trying to do something to make the world a better place one person at a time,” she recalls. “I saw how combining resources and human capital could have a positive impact on the community and, selfishly, that made me feel good.”
After college, Carrie had the good fortune to work for a most unusual boss. She says he invested in her personally, coaching her, mentoring her and constructively critiquing her work. And then to celebrate her 26th birthday, he surprised her with a momentous challenge. He offered to give her money he was going to spend taking her and her colleagues out for a birthday lunch. But she had to accomplish something good with it.
Still very much committed to changing the world, Carrie spent the money reaching out to six organizations she admired, asking them what they would do with a thousand dollars that would have a sustainable impact in their communities. Their replies were eye opening.
“That small amount of money could improve literacy rates in a Washington D.C. classroom or allow 25 women to graduate from high school in Tanzania.“
Carrie was inspired. If everyone she knew contributed just a little bit of money, it could add up to something big. Galvanized, she sent emails to family and friends asking for small donations. Amid the flurry of $20s and $50s that came in, there was one reply from an address she didn’t recognize. And this is where her story takes a jaw dropping turn.
The email Carrie received was from the stranger she had met at the business conference. His words took her breath away.
‘I’d like to stay anonymous,’ he wrote, ‘and I’d like to send a million dollars to the Global Good Fund. Where should I send the check?’
Carrie’s first thought was caution, that this was a prank, or worse. But she agreed to meet with him in a public place with surveillance cameras.
Not only did the man show up, he came ready to hand over a cashier’s check for one million dollars!
“He asked, ‘What would you do with the money?’ I hadn’t even thought this through because I honestly didn’t think he would come. But I told him that I would identify high potential young leaders around the world, pair them with targeted capital and seasoned executives who have the experience to help grow their leadership development, which would, in turn, grow their businesses and create positive social impact.“
With that plan, the million dollars was hers. And, just to add another astonishing twist, when Carrie told her boss the story, he said he would match the million dollars himself.
So virtually overnight, The Global Good Fund became a reality with a two- million dollar kickoff!
“I still pinch myself,” says Carrie. “A stranger renewed my faith in what strangers can do for each other.”
The Global Good Fund’s (GGF) mission is to identify and invest in the development of young social entrepreneurs around the world who have been working for two years or more in businesses built for social good.
GGF then pairs each emerging entrepreneur with accomplished executives who are eager to share the lessons learned from their own mistakes and achievements. Carrie says it is a win-win relationship.
“The experienced professionals we work with are at the peaks of their careers and demonstrate a commitment and desire to living a life of significance, in addition to one of success.”
The Fund’s flagship program is a 15-month fellowship granted to 12 applicants in 2016 and 14 applicants in 2017. The fellows are given a personal assessment of their leadership strengths and weaknesses, along with a co-created leadership plan. The Fund additionally places a priority on investing in the leadership growth of women. More than half of The Global Good Fund Fellows are female, a statistic that Carrie says far outpaces general support of female entrepreneurs domestically and abroad.
Since its founding in 2012, GGF has invested 15,000 hours and $1,050,000 in the leadership development of 38 entrepreneurs representing 25 countries and industries, including education, technology, renewable energy, youth development, healthcare, water sanitation, and sustainable fashion.
And the results reported so far are impressive. GGF’s own data show that the companies it invests in are growing at 3x to 10x the rate they would be otherwise. The social impact has resulted in 300 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs created globally by the entrepreneurs GGF supports.
“Recognizing that we each have power and influence over ourselves to make the world a better place has been a scary realization that it’s my responsibility to myself and my world to be a global citizen and steward,” says Carrie, “to do as much good as I can for as many people as I can.”
In addition to leading The Global Good Fund, Carrie teaches entrepreneurship at George Washington University and teaches fundraising for social impact at the Amani Institute in Kenya and Brazil. Among her many awards, she was named a 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year, and is the recipient of the POLITICO Women Who Rule Award.
For information on how you can become a Global Good Fund Fellow or Mentor, or to add your support to The Global Good Fund, visit www.globalgoodfund.org/apply