MELBOURNE, Australia — Having amassed his wealth from investing in small and mid cap companies, billionaire investor Alex Waislitz promises $50 million over the next decade to charity. Using the fortune he has made from Thorney Investments, Waislitz will fund social venture capital projects. The company has so far invested $27 million of its available $80 million.
“I want to set myself the challenge of spending that $50 million sooner rather than later. I’m going to try to incorporate my business skills in helping organizations flourish and reach their potential and provide them with the capital…But also the skills,” said the Melbourne-based Waislitz.
The $50 million will be spent through the Waislitz Foundation, which currently works as a subsidiary of Thorney, but will soon appoint an independent advisory board and chief executive. Rather than spending the $50 million sum all at once, the foundation will make donations in the form of regular or annual dividends on behalf of Thorney Investments.
“I’m looking for organizations that we can have multi-year relations with over five or ten years, like the small-cap companies we have invested in. I see a parallel with some of these organizations that require some maturation. Yes, we will write checks, but it will be longer-term and due diligence led, with passion and emotion behind it,” he said, expressing his desire to motivate others to maintain good returns on investments.
Already, the Waislitz Foundation has pledged two gifts of $1 million each.
The foundation will give $1 million to the Clontarf Foundation, which runs academies centered around athletics to help indigenous children improve their life skills, education and discipline. Waislitz supports the academies based on their success with keeping Aboriginal boys in school and decreasing their exposure to bad influences, overall giving them a greater chance at a successful future.
The second pledge will form an alliance with New York’s Global Poverty Project, run by Australian Hugh Evans. To be awarded in September at the Global Poverty Project’s yearly fundraising concert, the Global Citizen Festival, Waislitz’s donation will mark the creation of the Waislitz Global Citizen Award.
“The award could be someone doing grassroots projects or showing leadership [in ending poverty]anywhere in the world. Yes, there’s plenty of causes to support in Australia, but we won’t restrict ourselves to just Australia,” Waislitz said. “I hope to go and see these award nominees and hopefully take me to some far-flung corners of the world, which suits my adventurous spirit.”
Waislitz is working to increase his philanthropy now rather than in retirement, and encourages others, especially those who are wealthy and successful, to embark on philanthropic endeavors as well.
“One of the things that I think is a little bit sad is that a lot of wealthy people wait until very late in their life before they start giving away part of their fortune. In my view, they don’t get the enjoyment of being involved in the progressive growth of those organizations and communities. So I want to do this while I can still be involved with my children.”
– Annie Jung