Sponsorship isn’t restricted to the corporate arena. Sometimes the biggest success stories come from a pairing between the business, entrepreneurial and outside world — and this is where the collaborative and the commercial mindsets really do come together. An example of this is giving circles, which are growing in popularity in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the South-East Asia region and in Australia itself. They are based on the US and Canadian model whereby groups of individuals — mainly entrepreneurs — donate their own money or time to a pooled fund, deciding together to give to several charity or community projects rather than a single entity and, in doing so, seek to increase their awareness of and engagement in the issues covered by these charity or community projects. It leads to wider engagement over a larger number of issues and also a greater coverage of needs. The First Seeds Fund is a singular achievement for its founders in Australia. It is based on a US giving circle and, in addition to donating their money, members also contribute their time and skills to support local causes. For First Seeds, their concentration is on giving back at a grassroots level to women and children in neglected communities in urban Australia, such as Warwick Farm, just outside of Sydney. Three generations of unemployment, child prostitution and lack of formal education had previously made this a ‘forgotten community’; now, with the guidance of strong community leaders, First Seeds is making a tangible difference. Part of what First Seeds does incredibly well is sponsor young women and girls in starting their own businesses and selling the resulting products at local markets. Every aspect of the business is covered — marketing, business plans, budgeting, design — in order to teach essential skills to girls who otherwise would have absolutely no exposure to any kind of mentoring or future-proofing. A laser-sharp focus on sponsorship Sponsorship, whether within the corporate environment, as an entrepreneur or in a philanthropic capacity, is a serious undertaking. It: • requires an active collaborative attitude where talent fosters talent rather than like fosters like • is a commitment to evolutionary learning, sharing knowledge and insight and actively opening doors and making those all-important introductions to drive commercial success for another • involves commitment on a long-term basis and it will reflect not only on the protégé but also on the sponsor’s reputation • is a two-way investment for both parties • is future-proofing success for the protégé but also ensuring higher visibility for the sponsor • is about actively pursuing your goals and enabling others to pursue theirs, which means it is a truly engaged collaborative relationship and provides a value exchange for both parties. Essentially, sponsoring others is about securing the present and ensuring that the pipeline of the future generation of business leaders, entrepreneurs and philanthropists is solid. It is about ensuring that the future leaders and pioneers have effective role models now, sharing all they have learnt along the way and opening the book of their contact base. Fundamentally, that they see the power of working as We. From Me To We, published internationally by Wiley, is available now from on all good bookstores and online distributors.