Published on 04 November, 2007.
THE nation’s renowned generosity reached its peak earlier this week after the Dublin Marathon and RTE’s Telethon.
But one Irish former tycoon — who grew up a stone’s throw from the broadcaster’s Donnybrook headquarters — is helping people in Ethiopia through a more business-oriented approach to charity.
At the peak of the dotcom boom, Dubliner Philip Berber’s day trading software firm Cybercorp was notching up sales of $500,000 a day.
In 2000, just days before other dotcom firms crashed, he sold the company to US online trading firm Charles Schwab, banking $488m.
Berber, who is now based in Austin, Texas, then founded A Glimmer of Hope and pledged to spend $100m helping millions of Ethiopians who struggle to get by on less than a dollar a day.
In the past seven years, the charity has spent $20m, helping two million people in the east African country.
Berber’s charity helps farmers and small businesses to get off the ground by giving them small loans known as microloans. It pledged $1m last year and has loaned out $250,000 so far.
“We’ve done traditional charity work such as building wells, schools, health clinics and veterinary clinics. But microloans help rural businesswomen make money and lift themselves out of poverty.
“Farmers can use loans to buy equipment and then feed their families and sell crops.”