The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a global shock of unprecedented proportions as economic and social disruptions are being experienced across demand and supply channels in an increasingly interconnected global environment. As a result, far-reaching consequences have been felt across the world. However, what is even more worrying is the fact that these economic and social consequences are more visible and have a deeper impact in impoverished nations that were plagued by pre-existing vulnerabilities even before the COVID-19 outbreak. 

To effectively mitigate these dire consequences and create a brighter future for generations to come, there is a need for nonpartisan cooperation between the civil society, governments, and the third sector. The 195 Project is a unique, variegated think tank designed to effectively address this need. As suggested by its name, the project aims at developing sustainable philanthropic initiatives that will help all officially recognized 195 countries in the world to overcome the complexities and hardships caused by COVID-19 and foster a bright future for all. 

About the 195 Project

The 195 Project is the brainchild of renowned Hong Kong based entrepreneur, Calvin Lo, who developed this international think tank to tackle global inequalities that were compounded by COVID-19. As explained by Mr. Lo in a recent interview, he realized that he simply dished out money to charity foundations without following up on the progress, just like many other innately charitable billionaires.  “I rubber-stamped charity documents and that was that”, says Lo. He had no way of ascertaining the ROI on his donations and this was a serious problem, especially in the wake of COVID-19.

Ideally, the initiative brings together researchers, entrepreneurs, governments, and philanthropists from all 195 countries to devise more efficient ways of distributing financial aid. It undoubtedly is a collaborative endeavor designed to restructure international philanthropy in a bid to facilitate more equitable and sustainable distribution. 

To a great extent, The 195 Project emulates the Bretton Woods Agreement. In the latter, countries came together to affirm standard exchange rates so as to foster economic stability in counters that were reeling from the consequences of World War II. Similarly, The 195 Project seeks to foster collaboration between all 195 countries to help create a brighter Post-COVID future for upcoming generations. In essence, the initiative brings together governments, business elites, and members of the civil society in an effort to create innovative solutions to growing economic disparities between the rich and poor. The ongoing health pandemic has exacerbated these disparities, thus making this the most opportune time to streamline the distribution of philanthropic assets. 

Zero In On Philanthropy

As aforementioned, The 195 Project is like no other billionaire charity project since it focuses not just on issuing philanthropic assets, but streamlining their distribution for a better future. Most billionaire projects simply issue hand outs, maybe because these billionaires are too busy to follow up on their donations or the PR is enough for them. Either way, The 195 Project goes against the grain as it seeks to ensure philanthropic assets are invested intelligently, hence guaranteeing the greater good of the international community. Statistics show that the amount of philanthropic assets issued out annually has increased by a whopping 95% in the past decade. However, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase despite this increase in charitable donations. Worse still, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation as the number of billionaires has increased while the poor lunge deeper in poverty. To this end, The 195 Project brings together all relevant shareholders to devise comprehensive solutions to this conundrum. The idea is to identify this urgent issue faced by the needy in the post-pandemic environment and calculating the best ways to channel philanthropic assets towards resolving these issues. 

Talk Less, Listen More

All this is made possible by the initiative’s unique approach, which is simple and straight to the point: talk less and listen more. “One of the major faults of contemporary society is that the rich expect others to listen whenever they talk…I believe it should be vice versa”, says Lo. The best way to drive philanthropy, foster moral responsibility, and build global capacity is by listening to the wants of those that need it the most. 

The 195 Project has grown thus far, not by dictating terms, but by listening, learning, and eventually collectively devising comprehensive solutions to issues plaguing the global economy in the COVID-19 aftermath. It aims at fostering a similar culture among business leaders to ensure leakages and wastage of philanthropic assets are minimized, thus ensuring a bright future for all 195 countries. 

The 195 Project teaches us that by listening, the 1% can demonstrate their philanthropic zeal more efficiently, in a manner that eradicates capitalism and promotes equitable development for all populations.