The Social Impact of Family Businesses

Lahina Fires

Family businesses have a long history of caring for communities and springing into action when there is a threat to the well-being of others. Without question, the spirit of giving is essential when disaster strikes, but so are rapid, critical responses that provide life-saving resources, humanitarian relief, and hope to those affected by natural or artificial catastrophic events.

From COVID-related disruptions and the adverse impacts of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable to regional conflicts displacing millions, the need for social assistance has never been higher. Corporate philanthropy is on the rise, too, helping to address the challenging realities that have emerged in the wake of today’s global crises. In 2022, corporations gave more than 13% in philanthropic aid over 2021, and most firms have increased their charitable donations by around 15% during the past few years.

Here are 9 Family Businesses Making an Impact:

Ikea Recycling Center
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The Swedish furnishings company that operates 379 locations across 31 markets was founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943 and continues its founder’s social and environmental values today. The Kamprad family’s Ingka Holding is also one of the world’s largest charitable organisations, concentrating its philanthropic efforts through the company’s Ingka Foundation and providing financial resources for the IKEA Foundation.

The IKEA Foundation’s primary focus is addressing poverty and climate change. Since its inception, it has contributed nearly $2 billion to aid families and the planet. The foundation first began fighting child labour practices in the 1990s and continues to champion healthy living conditions for children. Besides financial assistance of more than $30 million, the Ingka Group has donated 850,000 home furnishing products, including mattresses, bedding, and kitchen sets, to support those affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

Earthquake Response Teams
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Intrepid Travel

In 1989, Australian Friends Darrell Wade and Geoff Manchester founded the world’s largest B Corp-certified travel company and a leader in responsible, ethical small-group adventures. Intrepid Travel runs more than 1,000 itineraries across the globe. Since 2002, the company’s not-for-profit foundation has raised millions to support the communities in destinations it visits through local partnerships.

Intrepid Travel’s humanitarian campaigns have provided aid in regions such as Nepal after that country’s catastrophic 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2015 and in Australia, helping those affected by the country’s 2020 bushfires. In 2022, the Intrepid Foundation partnered with the American Red Cross to relieve communities affected by the Maui wildfires. The company also launched an emergency Hawaii Wildfire Appeal and committed to matching donations up to $50,000.

Fire Damage in Maui
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Founded by Robert Greenberg in 1992, the famous footwear brand operates around 5,000 locations across 180 countries worldwide. Skechers saw the loss of its Maui Outlet store in the wildfires that devastated the island in 2023. In response, the company donated $250,000 to the Maui Strong Fund to support those affected and pledged 20,000 pairs of footwear and 20,000 pieces of apparel to help Maui residents.

Amplifying Skechers’ humanitarian efforts, the company’s employees mobilised resources on the US mainland to provide essentials such as blankets, towels, undergarments, and toiletries for Maui’s communities. Skechers has already committed to opening a new Maui store in 2024.

Food bank volunteers
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Haggar Group

The Haggar family continues to run its South Sudan business, established in 1904. Haggar Group operates across 8 sectors and 6 African countries, with key activities in information and communications technology, agriculture, and energy. The company’s Haggar Foundation was inspired by the efforts of George M. Haggar, son of the founder, and a strong advocate for social responsibility and philanthropy. The Foundation’s initiatives range from supplying medical equipment and literacy tools to providing support for natural disasters in the region. In addition to working with key partners such as UNICEF, and The Sudanese Programme, which maintains a strong focus on addressing the country’s civil war and facilitating its peace process, the Haggar Foundation also provides provisions and scholarships for students in areas particularly affected by the conflict.

Red Cross tent in Ukraine
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AB InBev

In March 2022, the world’s largest brewer provided crucial assistance to its 1,800 employees in Ukraine and their families, including housing and financial support. AB InBev also pledged funds for the Red Cross and established partnerships with local NGOs to contribute food, blankets, medical supplies, and 2 million cans of emergency drinking water to Ukraine and surrounding refugee relief areas.

The company’s AB InBev Foundation works to improve communities worldwide with a focus on reducing harmful alcohol consumption, nurturing entrepreneurs, supporting sustainable agriculture, facilitating community engagement, and ensuring clean water. With its partners in Bolivia, AB InBev Foundation launched the Sacaba water sanitation project in 2022, with the capacity to provide 400 people in the region with clean water for drinking or irrigation.

World Food Program Trucks
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Epic Games

Tim Sweeney founded Epic Games in 1991 and has grown the firm into a leading interactive entertainment company with more than 40 offices globally. Epic’s Fortnite is one of the world’s largest games, with over 350 million player accounts and 2.5 billion friend connections.

In March 2022, Epic Games announced it would donate proceeds from all Fortnite in-game purchases for two weeks to UNICEF, Direct Relief, the UN World Food Program, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the World Central Kitchen in support of relief efforts for those affected by the war in Ukraine. With its initiative partner, Xbox, $144 million was raised for humanitarian causes.

Grain Donations
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Dal Group

Sudan’s largest privately owned conglomerate was established as an engineering firm in 1951 and acquired by Osama Daoud Abdellatif in the 1970s. DAL Group efforts played a significant role in introducing the UN’s Global Compact in Sudan – an initiative for businesses committed to key principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption.

Responding to Sudan’s humanitarian crisis and estimates that approximately 11.7 million people would be food insecure in 2023, Dal Group secured 280,000 tonnes of wheat to supply staple food to the nation’s communities. Dal Group is committed to ensuring essential, safe food products reach millions of Sundanese through the company’s extensive distribution network.

Unicef Event
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Bharti Airtel Ltd

The leading New Delhi-based telecommunications service provider, with a global network across the USA, Europe, Africa, and Asia, has actively worked to provide relief and empowerment to Nigeria and other African communities. In 2023, Airtel partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund and UNICEF to launch a five-year initiative in Uganda to connect 100 schools in marginalised communities to learning platforms.

The company’s philanthropic arm, Bharti Foundation, also provides critical relief aid in the region for those impacted by natural disasters and medical epidemics. During Zambia’s 2018 Cholera outbreak, Airtel supported the Ministry of Education’s efforts to keep schools in vulnerable areas functional with enhanced cleaning and safety protocols.

When Tropical Cyclone Freddy destroyed entire communities in Mozambique and Malawi in 2023, Airtel donated millions of talk time minutes to over 600,000 subscribers to facilitate communication with their loved ones and authorities. The company also provided financial support to the Malawi Red Cross Society for essential relief items.

School in South Sudan
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Dell Technologies

In 1984, Michael Dell founded what has become one of the world’s leading technology companies. Dell Technologies advances a strong social mission, partnering with organisations that include the United Nations, UNICEF, and the Red Cross to support global humanitarian relief and emergency response initiatives, such as blood donorship and other disaster services, through social data resources.

Responding to events in Ukraine, Dell pledged $15 million to support organisations on the ground in the country, specifically for organisations focussing on medical needs for families and resettlement support for refugees. In Sudan, Dell is leveraging its High-Performance Computing platform for use by its partner Giga to bring connectivity inclusion to schools and children in the region.