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Monday, January 13, 2014

Joelle Wyser-Pratte: Believing in Goodness

Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland has always believed in the goodness of peoples’ hearts. But she’s never been naïve about her belief. She’s a successful business woman who founded a major investment company, Ounnavarra Capital; but she’s gone beyond just making money and giving it away. To borrow the term coined by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, she practices capitalism with a conscience, and believes strongly that capitalism and business can be harnessed to catalyze significant social progress.
“We believe that challenges must be audacious, but achievable, tied to measurable goals. And understandable by all,” reads a mission statement of the X Prize Foundation, which awards cash prizes to organizations and projects that meet specific humanitarian goals. O'Reilly-Hyland is an active supporter of the X-Prize foundation and is also heavily involved with improving educational opportunities in developing countries. Educating girls is a major priority for Joelle and her husband, Paul O’Reilly-Hyland, who is also a partner in Ounavarra Capital’s charitable foundation by the same name that his wife started.
A severe decline in charitable giving isan unfortunate byproduct of the global recession” Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland said late last year after she and her husband completed an Olympic Triathlon that raised funds for Ubuntu Africa. Ubuntu Africa provides assistance to African children who are HIV positive. Optimism is a key factor that drives Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland to keep doing the extra work that she does. You won’t hear her complaining because “some” doesn’t turn out to be “more”. She said after completing the triathlon that if the dollars she raised help at least one child, “then it [the effort] was worth it.”
 As far as celebrity philanthropists go, Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland keeps a low profile. She’s an outspoken supporter of the Fabretto Foundation, a charitable organization that helps children in Central America that and is named for its founder, and Italian missionary. Google Wyser Pratte’s name along with Fabretto Foundation and you’ll find blog posts she’s written that praise the organization and which mention different ways to donate. But what you won’t find is any high-profile images of Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland on Fabretto’s website.

Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland’s charitable organization, the Ounavarra Foundation, has helped design innovative ways to make it easy for people to makes small, continuous donations over time to Fabretto and other foundations that are structured like annuities. O'Reilly-Hyland is a very successful finance strategist who founded Minerva Capital in the 1990s, but who never lost touch with financial fundamentals, as many money moguls do. The investment vehicles she created make it possible to efficiently collect very small donations from many people which add up to huge funds that can help millions of people improve their situation. The idea of large collections of many small sums is a concept largely forgotten in today’s business world.

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