Chief execs auction themselves for charity

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 09:42 26/05/2014
Trelise Cooper
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ
RAISING MONEY: Dame Trelise Cooper is among the business leaders auctioning themselves off for charity.

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Twelve of New Zealand's business leaders are putting themselves under the hammer to raise money for Sri Lankan families in extreme poverty.

Heavyweights backing the cause include ASB boss Barbara Chapman, top designer Dame Trelise Cooper, Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon and Sky TV founder Craig Heatley.

Over the next two weeks, punters will be able to bid on Trade Me to win a one-on-one business lunch with the leader of their choice.

The charity auction is being organised by ChildFund, which will use the cash to provide micro-loans and business mentoring to struggling Sri Lankan families.

ChildFund chief executive Paul Brown, who has visited the Sri Lankan communities, said even $100 or $150 could be completely life-changing.

Loans were allocated by local panels, 95 per cent of whom were women, for the likes of livestock, food growing supplies, sewing machines, and other tools.

"They get good steady income for their family, they get their children to school, they can provide better food," said Brown.

"It really does snowball...more income in the household really drives prosperity in the community."

Brown thanked the Government's New Zealand Aid Programme for its support, which will match the funds raised three times over.

He said the charity was looking to raise "as much as possible" from the auction, and hoping for at least $30,000.

While "fascinated" to see which business leaders would attract the highest bids, Brown declined to take a punt before the results came in next Friday.

Don Lyon, chief executive of engineering and consultancy firm Beca, suggested Cooper, Luxon, or Heatley would be in hot contention, but played down his own chances:

"I can be honest and say I don't think it'll be me!"

He said he was happy to give up his time, as the cause aligned with both Beca's and his own personal values.

"I like the hand-up, rather than the hand-out, philosophy."

Lyon said he hoped there would be a broad cross-section of businesses getting behind the cause, from SMEs and entrepreneurs to larger corporates.

He said business leaders could learn more from each other, and he would have no problem lunching with a competitor if they placed the winning bid.

"Sharing outside the formal or conference type environment is really quite healthy," said Lyon.

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"There's an awful lot of management theory around, but actually spending good one-on-one time together is hugely valuable."

A pilot test of ChildFund's micro-loan scheme in 2009 resulted in some families more than doubling their income.

It is now being implemented for 3,000 families, all fully funded by New Zealanders.

- Stuff

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