Phil Pradere is one of our biggest supporters and we are so excited to introduce you to him. Originally from Florida, and now residing in the UK, he served on our board of directors starting in 2013 and continues to find ways to support Sundara eight years later. Phil is a true philanthropist and aims to use his time, skills, and expertise to benefit those less fortunate. Continue reading to learn more about his professional background and how he became so motivated to give back.
How did you find Sundara?
I am fascinated by the idea of trying to marry the financial needs of the non-profit sector with the PR needs that corporations have. I knew corporations had money but weren’t often viewed as ‘socially responsible’, whereas nonprofits were socially responsible but many had extreme financial needs. I wanted to reach out to nonprofit organizations to see if there was a way to connect the two. Sundara was one of the ones I found on a website that highlighted the work of notable nonprofits.
I am particularly passionate about Sundara’s work as it is an innovative way to solve two problems at the same time; improving access to hygiene through soap recycling and supporting the local economy through hiring women and paying them a fair wage.
Additionally through my research, I came across a TED talk by Sundara’s founder, Erin Zaikis, which highlighted both the importance of having access to soap - something that we use every day but don’t even think about - as well as her solution to solving it. After listening to this talk, I reached out to Erin as I knew she would be doing something to make this world a better place and I wanted to contribute to what she was doing.
Tell us about your professional career and background. What part of your life are you currently finding the most rewarding or meaningful?
Initially, I went to school to study business. However, I realized during my studies that I was good at coding and analytics, so I headed towards a career where I could do that. My professional career has been dominated by IT at an IT advisory company that gives people advice, but what gives me personal meaning is figuring out ways in which I can keep corporations accountable for social responsibility. I would love to one day create an organization to do that on a large scale.
What was the most rewarding part of being on the Sundara board?
There were numerous rewarding aspects being on Sundara’s board. First, I was able to contribute financially, which was rewarding: to be able to take a portion of my income and put it towards something that I strongly believe in. Additionally, being able to connect with a non-profit and to support the work from behind the scenes was also meaningful, as I had the opportunity to support the organization’s impact measurements - which is an area that I have become skilled in.
Tell us why Sundara speaks to you.
Access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene is a major problem in the majority of developing countries. It’s one of those issues which constantly pops up on the lists of problems that affect impoverished countries and finding a solution to it will directly benefit billions of people’s lives. Sundara’s work essentially provides underserved and overlooked communities with the most vital solutions in a simple and sustainable way. Sundara also creates financially independent communities through employing women - which is something that everyone should support.
What made you who you are today?
I grew up poor in a rich country and I used to believe that I was in a rough situation by coming from the ‘hood’ in Miami, Florida. That all changed when one day, I listened to a talk by the Ex-CEO of American Express, Kenneth Chenault. The talk changed my perspective, as I realized that the garage in my house could be viewed as a mansion to other people who are less fortunate in the world. From understanding that ‘poor’ is actually a relative term, it became my new mission to figure out how I can support people outside of the US who are facing a much more challenging reality than myself. That is where my power comes from. I am constantly challenging myself on this to do more and now I have an ambition to eventually donate 20% of my income towards charitable causes which I believe in.
What is one of your biggest professional accomplishments?
I used to be passionate about climbing the corporate ladder which I eventually found to be very superficial. I went to Harvard University and made the decision to drop out. I had a pivotal point where I realised that I did not want to become a CEO if I was more focused on self-promotion rather than supporting the good work of organizations that are actually lifting people up and creating opportunities. I thought that I needed to get the best grades, become top of my class, and make a lot of money but all of that was for me and my ego and none of that was going to challenge the status quo of the world. When I started paying attention to what was going on outside of my bubble, I knew that I wanted to use my life to help the majority rather than the minority and for me, this was a major turning point.
What’s your hope for this year?
I hope that this year we get through COVID, but that we don’t forget it. Through all of the hardships that we have collectively faced this year, it has also acted as a great equalizer. The pandemic has drawn attention to issues in western-countries that non-western countries have been trying to overcome for years, such as hygiene-related deaths. My hope is that we will remember the impact that the pandemic has had on our lives and that we will continue to work together on overcoming these issues globally, instead of only focusing on the issues our own communities face..
What advice do you have for anyone who is committed to giving back more this year?
Set small incremental targets for yourself and when you hit a goal then move up to a new level – this could be both for financial contributions or as volunteering your time. Additionally, you’ve got talents that people want and need. So use them! Your skills can and will impact other people’s lives in a meaningful way.
What is your purpose in life?
To impact generations to come. Not just my children, but the rest of the world. Becoming a billionaire would only benefit my family now, but using my experiences and education to support other people would be much more impactful for future generations.