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The World Acting Globally

Business Conference Addresses Global Poverty

Bottom Billions/Bottom Line

By Reece Carson (

Collin Timms
Speaker Collin Timms, Founder and Chairman of Guardian Bank

Is it possible for businesses to be financially successful and promote social good? Can enormous issues such as global poverty or our carbon footprint be solved by business? These were just two of the questions presenters raised at the Bottom Billions/Bottom Line conference held at Seattle Pacific University, April 1–2, 2011.

Hosted by SPU’s Center for Integrity in Business and the School of Business and Economics, the conference welcomed more than 375 business practitioners, executives, social entrepreneurs, students, and faculty members to explore the role of business in ending global poverty — especially for two-thirds of the world’s population who live on less than $4 a day.

In his opening remarks, SBE Dean Jeff Van Duzer urged those attending the conference to “look up from the balance sheet and observe the surrounding world.” Van Duzer told the audience he hoped they would consider business as an institution capable of effecting social change.

But how might business effect this change? Through very practical means, suggested opening plenary speaker Collin Timms, who is the founder and chairman of Guardian Bank, and has, as a managing trustee for The Bridge Foundation, helped promote more than 130,000 businesses among rural women in India.

Beyond charity, he said, empowerment through business enables people to move from abject poverty to living in a sustaining community.

Participating organizations included Adidas, Costco, Krochet Kids, Microsoft, Theo Chocolate, and World Concern.