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Mexico's 10 Greatest Philanthropists

     According to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), private philanthropy contributes roughly 32 million U.S. dollars to Mexico daily, including Saturdays and Sundays. What is also true, and may come as a surprise, is that private philanthropy tends to fall very little even in times of economic crisis. For example, the latest data reports a decrease of only 1.5 percent compared to the previous year’s giving levels.

However, while economic development factors may cause some hindrance in giving levels, there still remain Mexican business owners that do not reduce their humanitarian aid to their country, even in times of financial crisis.

Who makes this philanthropy possible?
According to the Mexican Center for Philanthropy (Cemefi), the universe of business foundations in Mexico is made up of 131 organizations. Out of these, two out of every three are among the most important companies in the country in terms of production. Although larger companies are more likely to have funding, says Cemefi, small or medium firms also participate in philanthropic efforts. In fact, 36% of the business foundations in Mexico were created by organizations that are not among the largest in the country.

The financial services and insurance sectors have created the most foundations, with almost double participation than that of the second place sector (consumer goods), and triple that of the third place (media and telecommunications) sectors. A study conducted in 2013 indicates that business foundations donated nearly 180 million U.S dollars in the 2012 fiscal year. Nevertheless, this amount refers only to fiscal donations. The economic contribution from philanthropy is actually almost ten times that amount (Inegi).

According to Cemefi, there are hundreds of business foundations, NGOs, and civil society organizations that collaborate on a daily-basis towards their philanthropic goals. Additionally, there are dozens of business owners, politicians, and even athletes and actors with foundations in their name or in their spouse’s name. This variation in the types of individuals affiliated with Mexican philanthropy makes it difficult to accurately trace the individual impact of the businessmen who engage in philanthropy. Nevertheless, the Executive World has utilized various sources to provide the following ranking of the top ten philanthropists in Mexico.

1. Carlos Slim Helú
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton once stated that Carlos Slim is one of the most important philanthropists in the world, even though most people have never heard about his efforts. Along with a dozen foundations that depend on his business, he maintains other foundations on a very personal level such as The Carlos Slim Foundation, the Carlos Slim Health Institute, among others. The Carlos Slim Foundation has an endowment of around 3.5 billion dollars, and supports vulnerable populations on a daily basis. It should be noted that Carlos Slim’s philanthropic activity spans all sectors, from health and education to digital inclusion. He has been recognized on various occasions as philanthropist of the year on both national and international levels. Without a doubt, Slim is the Mexican business owner with the greatest philanthropic trajectory in recent years with more than 100 civil society organizations receiving his funds to support various marginalized groups throughout Mexico.

2. Manuel Arango
Manuel Arango, honorary president of the Mexican Center for Philanthropy, is co-founder (along with his brothers) of various national store chains. Arango has distanced himself from business ventures for the past three decades and has converted himself into a full-time philanthropist. His work can be seen in organizations such as the Mexican Foundation for Environmental Education, the Xochitla Foundation, the Octavio Paz Foundation, and more. One little-known fact is that Arango was the producer of the 1971 documentary of silence, for which he received two Oscar awards.

3. Alfredo Harp Helú
In Oaxaca, Harp Helú is known as one of the state’s main contributors and supporters, not only because of his support for the restoration of the historic city center, but also for the philanthropic work that he has done in some of the poorest municipalities of the state, and of the country. Currently, the endowment of the Alfredo Harp Helú foundation is over 840 million U.S dollars.

4. Miguel Alemán Velasco
As son of former Mexican president Miguel Alemán Valdés, Miguel Alemán Velasco has participated in political life, but his greatest achievements have been in the realms of business. Along with heading various international-level companies, he is president of the Mexican Business Summit, which has been catalogued as the Davos of Latin America. Moreover, the majority of his philanthropic programs were created after the death of his father. The Miguel Alemán Foundation includes a Health program, whose principal objective is to foster progress in medical science. Beyond health, he is also involved in education and tourism philanthropy.

5. Alejandro Ramírez Magaña
When the Association of Funding (AFP) celebrated its 20th Day of Altruism, it decided to publicly recognize Alejandro Ramírez Magaña, General Director of the cinema chain Cinépolism, for his contributions towards health, education, and film. His initiatives have catalyzed reforms within the educational system as well as the justice system. This business owner is recognized for having opened the doors of film in lower socio-economic areas such as Morelia. Moreover, through various diverse alliances, he has been one of the business owners that has most promoted eye surgery for vision improvement of low-income individuals.

6. Antonio López Silanes
While the name of Antonio López Silanes is not very familiar among Mexicans in general, for the thousands of Mexican mothers with high-risk pregnancies, it is easily recognizable. This is because he is the president of the National Institute of Perinatology, an institution that provides high-class attention to high-risk pregnancies. Moreover, he is the founder of the Group of Birth Studies, a civil society organization dedicated to preventing birth defects in Mexico.
Silanes is the owner of pharmaceutical business Silanes Laboratories, one of the few laboratories located in the Mexican national capital. This laboratory is one of the primary promoters of the Mexican Foundation for Health. Through the support of contributing foundations, the laboratory and foundation collaborate together on various studies.

7. Alberto y Dolores Andrade
Even though Alberto and Dolores Andrade have already passed, it is important to include them in this list because they utilized their foundation to create a business that impacts millions of Mexicans every day. In 1978, Alberto and Dolores Andrade created their namesake foundation (ADA) with philanthropic funds. To fund this foundation, they gave life to the La Gloria Creamery. La Gloria produces more than 2 out of every 3 loaves of bread that is consumed in the country, as well as millions of kilos of butter that Mexicans consume yearly. Despite the economic success of the La Gloria business model, the philanthropic legacy of these business owners remains intact: the company itself belongs to a charity foundation.

8. Juan Francisco Beckmann
Juan Francisco Beckmann Vidal, President of Cuervo Tequila, is the founder of the Cuervo empire, one of the major Mexican producers of tequila. His philanthropic achievements are many, including his tremendous contributions to the declaration of the tequila-producing area of the country as a cultural heritage site by UNESCO. Recently, Juan Francisco Beckmann donated over 52 million U.S. dollars to improve the natural and cultural conditions of Tequila, Jalisco, an action for which the Jalisco government considers him one of the most altruistic business owners in the country.

9. Frank Devlyn
Within the philanthropy sphere, Frank Devlyn is frequently recognized as a recipient of various distinctions on the national and international levels, as well as for his role as the head of the more than 400 Devlyn optical firms around the world. He is recognized as the man who participates in all non-profit movements. He has been a member of the Businessman’s Salon in Mexico since 2009, and his philanthropic work earned him the position of Global Rotary President. His foundation serves those most in need, principally children who need glasses in order to improve their academic performance. He has been recognized by Hanyang University in Seoul with the Golden Medal of Business, and by more than a dozen other entities within Mexico and abroad.

10. Lorenzo Servitje
Another highly respected Mexican business owner is Lorenzo Servitje Sendra, the founder of Bimbo Group. His work is dedicated to the Christian social doctrine, as well as the dignity of individuals and institutions, and has garnered him much recognition on both national and international levels. Beyond the Social Responsibility programs affiliated with his foundation, Servitje has supported his own workers and the most marginalized indigenous groups in the country. One example of his social responsibility focus is the enormous amount of micro-businesses selling “yesterday’s bread” that he has created, to the benefit of both small business owners and consumers. For this innovation, he recently received an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophical Science from the Pontifical University of Mexico.

This article has been translated and summarized from its original source in Spanish. The original article can be found here .

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Posted on 2015-05-11, By: *

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