For investment banker and philanthropist Karine Ohana, her annual Success for Progress luncheon is an opportunity to give back. At her latest event, which was held at the United Nations on Earth Day, she highlighted the increasing contribution of brand owners, entrepreneurs and larger corporations in regard to the environment and humankind.
Ohana teamed up with filmmaker and philanthropist Susan Rockefeller to organize the lunch, which included more than a dozen speakers — including Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, secretary-general and executive director of UN Women — exploring those topics.
“As always, communication, networking and education are the predominant objectives of the event,” Ohana said.
“When you’ve spent over 20 years working with brand owners on financial matters such as mergers and acquisitions, you end up realizing you are not helping make this world a better place,” said Ariel Ohana, Karine Ohana’s brother and business partner at Ohana & Co. “So we have made a radical decision. We will continue spending 364 days a year talking with brand owners of financial matters, but one day a year we will pause and will invite brands to discuss how they can make this world a better place, and hopefully inspire others to follow that path.”
“The Success for Progress luncheon brings people together to share ideas and inspiration and best practices,” said Rockefeller. “We have one earth and leaders need to balance the need for growth with the need for the health of ourselves and our environment. If people take this on — the business of ethical lifestyle — and get beyond ‘sustain-a-babble’, we have the possibility of re-imagining a world where decisions are made with regard to the true costs of environmental resources. There would be innovation and creativity beyond our wildest dreams. If we can put people on the moon, we can create sustainable business practices that celebrate beauty, fashion and food within the limits balancing our needs with that of nature. The truth is, we will only be successful when we no longer call it sustainability, but rather, we will call it the way we live. The way each of us lives — in our everyday lives — committed to protecting people and our amazing planet. All of us who work or consume — in business, in fashion, art or science — we all need to envision a world that celebrates and nurtures the resources that sustains us.”
Speakers enthusiastically backed up Rockefeller’s comments.
“The new generation of brands are more and more socially responsible and want to take part in improving the world,” said Jean Noel Thorel, founder of the NAOS Group and a sponsor of the lunch. “The entrepreneurs put their creativity and talent to human and environment causes. The consumers of today, vote when they spend and choose a brand among others.”
“We are committed to doing all we can in order to prevent childhood deaths from malaria,” said Daniel Bohbot, founder and chief executive officer of Liberty Garden. “Liberty Garden’s Buy One Piece, Change One Life, philosophy guarantees each purchase funds a life-saving treatment, provided through our sponsorship with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.”