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Canva founders pledge to distribute their wealth

Co-founders of Canva, Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht, have promised to give the majority of their wealth away after becoming one of the most valuable companies in the world. Image: Canva

IF more of the world’s wealthiest people thought like Australian tech icon Melanie Perkins, we could very well live in a more equitable and just society.

Ms Perkins is the CEO of Canva, the global graphic design platform she co-founded with her now husband, Cliff Obrecht.

Canva has recently been valued at US$40 billion, becoming one of the world’s most valuable private software companies, a massive achievement since their humble beginnings as a Sydney-based start-up.

However, what the founders intend to do with their billions of dollars truly speaks to their character.

Of their 36 per cent equity in Canva, they plan to commit 30 per cent of that to charity organisations and philanthropic causes through the Canva Foundation.

In a post titled “A note to the Canva community,” Ms Perkins detailed how this latest commitment is part of Canva’s two-step plan.

Step one is to become one of the most valuable companies globally, which they can undoubtedly tick, and step two is to do the best they can.

Ms Perkins said that it has always been their intention to use the majority of their wealth to help make the world a better place, expressing discomfort with the word billionaire.

“It has felt strange when people refer to us as “billionaires” as it has never felt like our money; we’ve always felt that we’re purely custodians of it,” she said.  

“We are very pleased to share the news that Cliff and I will be committing the vast majority of our equity (30 per cent of Canva) to do good in the world.”

The Canva Foundation will contribute to inequality after wanting to help those in poverty for many years but unsure where to start.

“There are 711 million people who live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 a day, which means they have to make unfathomable decisions between basic human needs, for themselves and their families.

“Many studies have shown that an effective way of helping someone who has no money is to give them money. It enables recipients to buy what they need, and have a consistent and predictable source of income, which enables them to invest in themselves and their children.”

They are launching their first pilot program, Give Directly, helping those living in extreme poverty in South Africa.

“We will begin by distributing $10 million to some of the world’s poorest people in Southern Africa, using mobile payments to reach those in need,” said Ms Perkins.

“Following the learnings from this pilot, we hope to rapidly scale this more broadly and to contribute to the lives of as many people across the globe as we can.”

The couple is dedicated to ensuring Canva remains at its core “a force for good”.

“We have this wildly optimistic belief that there is enough money, goodwill and good intentions in the world to solve most of the world’s problems, and we want to spend our lifetime working towards that,” she said.

There is certainly enough money, and if any of the world’s billionaires follow in Ms Perkins’ footsteps and distribute their wealth, we might have enough goodwill and good intentions to change the world.

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Jessica Roberts

Jessica Roberts is a Masters of Journalism and International Relations student at Monash University. She is interested in advocating for women’s empowerment, amplifying the voices of marginalised communities and creating a society more inclusive and welcoming of minority groups. Jessica is passionate about writing stories that help make a difference.

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