Philanthropy vs. Business: One Step Further to Face the Fact

Adapted from: (October 21, 2012) – Vietnamese Restaurants Turn Philanthropy into Business

“What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you.” (Oprah Winfrey [1] [1954-present]’s quote in her “O Magazine”)

Philanthropy in Business

Philanthropy may improve and enhance human beings

An important thing that should be considered as the focal point when we come up with a topic which is concentrated on “how to make this short-life becoming useful to others”; here we are talking about how often are we in giving our owns to others compared to how big have others gave their owns to us as well. Relating back to the economic issues nowadays, most of them is telling us that it is impossible for a business to become the successful one without keeping a watch on its environment. Again, it is undeniable that social norms such as empathy, compassion, awareness, responsibility and so forth, take a significant part even in business world.

Adapting from economic news in VOA’s official website ( which I read last days, obviously I knew that this theory of charity business has grown to be more vital in answering the mystery behind a successful business around the whole world. Jimmy Pham, who has been dedicating himself as the owner of KOTO Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Thailand, was trying to open his own business once he returned to Vietnam as a travel agent in 1996 and lived between poverty surrounding him immediately. That miserable condition motivated him to come up with his venerable effort, spending his times and money for street children, sharing hopes with them as well as teaching those disadvantaged children on how to live their life. He established the first KOTO as an inaugural class which recruited over 30 street children twice a year in a sandwich shop located in Hanoi. Once it grew into a bigger restaurant, Pham was not stopping his action on just “teach them how to fish”, he focused on how to make his employees begin to open their minds in designing their own “fish shops” then pass their skills and experiences to another unfortunates through a sustainable non-profit business.

That might just a simple Vietnamese story out of many successful business stories around the world that we have already known before. Guess what, from a small philanthropy-based action Jimmy Pham can create a big business which now has engaged careless people to gain a lot of work experience and found what their lives are meaning to in such a wonderful way of seeking for the art of serving others. What a magnificent thought, I think! Honestly as an Indonesian, I strongly believe that this kind of business should be implemented in every segments of Indonesian business as early as possible. Considering that my country has been dropped far below in Survey of Ease in Doing Business 2013 compared to other countries especially in South East Asia [2], there will be no more that can be proud of business in Indonesia then. This country still needs for what people called as revolution.

traning and coaching

By giving our employee philanthropy through training and coaching, they will get quality

Revolution in business; well I mean, this kind of action needs to be more concentrated in transforming our brainstorming process into a question, “How can I start a business which can involves others to work?” Several media and presses recently reported that Indonesia has been grown well so far by the help of small businesses within regions which have been increasing in number. This also cannot be disputed that a lot of low-end people have been employed to work and paid as well. At the top of iceberg, it seems like we have capability in implementing philanthropy concept inside our businesses. Nevertheless, our fact does not reflect what we have done for our country’s economic development. If there were a lot of philanthropy business spread out within this country, why do we still get a red mark in our world business report card? How can we compete with our neighbors who have already flown far away above our level? The problem is perfectly centered on how far does the business mechanism in Indonesia takes a part in determining which way should its businessmen / businesswomen choose to maintain their businesses. Fact says that “daily corruptions” have shaded Indonesia with a red on white paper, allowing some (or even more) entrepreneurs to swim on that “mud puddle” rather than being responsive to their environment. How can we move forward if there is a giant barrier blocking our way ahead? It is said to be a must for us to break down the barrier. Corruptions will slow down our economic development by destroying small economies as well as doing brain-washing on our positive perception about philanthropy in business.

Considering on that problem, we have to think twice on how to address ourselves as a professional in our work field. Despite looking for some extra “hot money” and being a corrupter, why don’t we open our business and spend some of the profit to help others outside our window? Philanthropy can be varied in process. We can just giving our money to help the poor, offering low-credits to others who need, or even we can employ some street children in our workplace and pay for their training just like what has Jimmy Pham done in Vietnam. I’ve just remembered on one of my friend who was dedicating herself to sell pretzels in our campus. Every time she got her revenue, she always donated some of her profit for helping a group of orphans in an orphanage near her house. I am just wondering that outside the other people who think that business is about profit and profit, however, she did not think that profit is a priority for herself. She tried to adjust herself in helping more people with her own way besides loving to do business. I bet she will get a noble prize one day if she were still on her dedication to do that charity business later with a larger scale of business. Another story comes from Elang Gumilang, a young entrepreneur from Bogor who was devoting himself to build small houses for poor families to minimize the gap between them and the rich [3]. While he has a big sense of business, he also knows that there are still many people who need helps from whom has the money. It is so difficult to find people like them two in this country today. Besides two stories above, there is still one more story that I am going to tell in this writing; a story that I will never forget to give my deepest and honorable thankfulness to them whom gave me a chance to see the world outside my window. My gratitude to Putera Sampoerna Foundation and Koperasi Siswa Bangsa for applying me as one of their member in continuing my university level through Student Loan Program that they have already given to me.

PSF and KSB were another examples of philanthropy and social-based business which gave a disadvantage student like me an opportunity to sit and learn at the university level, Sampoerna School of Business. Also, my grateful appreciation as the former student of SMAN 10 Malang (Public Senior High School of 10 Malang), that PSF has given my juniors chances to get their scholarships in high school education level through Sampoerna Academy program. By looking back to the way I directly felt the spirit of philanthropy in business through education aspects, now I can say that it was happened to me before and I should do the same through my own way later on. Again, I admit that here we also need to change our minds that philanthropy-based business can be more profitable for Indonesia as long as we know that this business is not just about charity, it is quality.

To summarize, a successful business does not absolutely come from how big are our profits; we need to consider that business can be categorized as in a success level if it could invite more people to join in without leaving the essence of helping others who need helps. Just like what has Oprah said at the beginning of my writing, “What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you.” The more you lend your hand to your fellow, the more you get profits by that. As the closing statement, I really do appreciate on Jimmy Pham’s words at the end of his news on VOA, “business with heart”. Philanthropy vs. Business: One Step Further to Face the Fact.



[1] US actress & television talk show host. She has been well-known by his television talk-show named The Oprah Winfrey Show. Despite being active in front of the camera, she has been dedicating herself in doing some social and humanitarian actions especially for African children and women. In 2004, she got her award for World Humanitarian Acts from United Nations Association.

[2] The Ease of Doing Business Survey is an annual survey summarized by the World Bank to measure how far a country has been developed in starting a new business regarding to its people’s income level and business infrastructure and regulation problems inside. Recently, the World Bank reported that for the upcoming 2013 Indonesia is sitting in 128 in Doing Business Rank, moving up 2 places from the last 130 during early 2012. This fact still brings Indonesia below its neighbors where Vietnam sits on rank 99, Thailand on rank 18, Malaysia on rank 12, Australia on rank 10, while Singapore still holds the pole position on world economic grade in starting any new businesses. (More info please visit

[3] Elang Gumilang (born in Bogor, April 6, 1985; 27 years old) is a CEO of Elang Group which his businesses are focused on mining, property, business training, and advertising. In his early ages, he could reach revenue up to 211 million rupiah, a brilliant achievement of a young entrepreneur today. Recently, he got an award named Indonesia Top Young Entrepreneur in 2008 as a result of his program in building small houses for poor families.

Yosef Sabastian Setya Hadi

Sampoerna School of Business

Marketing – Management 2011

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