They say: "charity starts at home". Well, maybe business can start with charity.
At Healthcare UK, we promote the work of UK healthcare providers in overseas markets. But this doesn't have to be strictly business.
I work in the NHS International Development team. It sounds fancy but it's a team that simply helps the NHS family and its partners to do work with foreign buyers of healthcare services, and ultimately win business. But we don't just do business. It is also in our remit to support NHS organisations who do philanthropic work.
It's becoming clear that small non-profit projects have the potential to build the trust that leads to wider partnerships outisde of philanthropic activity.
A stakeholder recently told me that: "what the NHS is offering to foreign countries can be complemented by more developmental language such as partnership, by understanding that the most successful sustainable projects always grow from mutual understanding and respect for the country's expertise and culture".
I agree with this and wherever possible, the use of philanthropic activities can be pursued as a platform to build credibility and esteem, and as a conduit to potential business activities.
Where there is spare capacity, we can help to address international health issues. We can also assist countries that are undergoing strategic health changes. That could be philanthropic, commercial, or both.
Philanthropy and business can complement each other quite well.