Russian billionaire to give entire fortune to philanthropic causes
Billionaire Vladimir Potanin has pledged to give away his entire fortune – estimated to be some $2.1bn (£1.3bn) – to charity. The 48-year-old aims to give his wealth away in 10 years time. In the meantime he plans to increase annual donations to his charitable fund from $10m (£6.4m) to $25m (£16m) over the same period.
Potanin became involved in philanthropy in 1999, when he founded the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, whose aim is to implement socially significant long-term projects in the sphere of domestic education and culture.
Potanin's grand philanthropic gesture follows in the steps of the likes of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, who announced in 1999 that he would give his wealth away, then estimated to be worth $58bn (£37.1bn), and Warren Buffett who announced his decision to give away most of his $40bn (£25.6bn) wealth in 2006.
Analysts hope Potanin's pledge will set an example to other Russian tycoons and entrepreneurs. Olga Alexeeva, head of global trustees at the Charities Aid Foundation said: “Vladimir Potanin was the first Russian entrepreneur to create a private foundation in Russian history. Now he becomes one of the first to donate his entire wealth to charity.
“I have seen the impact his giving has already had in Russia. He set up the first major scholarship programme for Russian universities which has enabled thousands of students to continue their studies and his foundation runs a fantastic programme that saves Russian museums. I hope other Russian entrepreneurs will follow."
Potanin’s fortune is thought to have fallen by more than $17bn (£10.8bn) in the past year, as shares of his largest holding, the world's biggest nickel producer Norilsk Nickel, collapsed by three-quarters.
Millionaire gives away his fortune to foundation
Another wealthy businessman, millionaire Karl Rabeder, 47, has also vowed to give away all his money and assetts, worth around $4.5m (£2.8m) to good causes. All the money will fund his microfinance charity in Latin America, My Micro Credit.
“My idea is to have nothing left. Absolutely nothing,” he told The Daily Telegraph, adding, “Money is counterproductive – it prevents happiness to come.”
The idea came to him while on a three-week luxury holiday in Hawaii. “It was the biggest shock in my life, when I realised how horrible, soulless and without feeling the five-star lifestyle is,” he said. “In those three weeks, we spent all the money you could possibly spend. But in all that time, we had the feeling we hadn’t met a single real person – that we were all just actors. The staff played the role of being friendly and the guests played the role of being important and nobody was real.”
From humble beginnings Rabeder amassed a fortune through a soft furnishing company, which he sold in 2004 and since then has been supporting several orphanage projects in central and South America.