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Graham Macmillan: Advancing Economic Opportunity and Entrepreneurship

Graham Macmillan: Advancing Economic Opportunity and Entrepreneurship

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Graham Macmillan, the president of Visa Foundation. Let’s learn what’s happening at Visa Foundation and how Graham is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Graham! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through the Visa Foundation?

Graham: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! As Visa’s corporate foundation, Visa Foundation believes in uplifting everyone, everywhere through the power of economic mobility. Utilizing our expertise, resources, and global reach, we strive to enable equitable access to capital through grants, support broader community needs through employee volunteering, and provide disaster response in times of crises through strategic partnerships such as our partnership with the American Red Cross.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Graham: My first job was interning at Helen Keller International, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing and treating blindness and vision loss. I was placed in the Newark public school system, working with predominantly low-income students and their families to provide glasses. It was a pivotal moment because it made me think about the positive contributions I wanted to make in my community.

Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?

Graham: Visa Foundation’s work impacts our communities in a variety of ways. Through grantmaking and investing, our work supports the growth of women-owned small and micro businesses around the world. Our goal is to empower women to be equal partners and participants in our global economy. Meanwhile, our collaborative partnerships with organizations like the American Red Cross means we can help ensure people affected by global disasters receive the resources they need.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?

Graham: Visa Foundation recently launched the Visa Foundation Gives program in Canada with a $250K USD donation to Feed Ontario, the province's largest collective of hunger-relief organizations, as part of an ongoing program dedicated to addressing local social issues in communities where Visa employees live and work. We know that making a difference where it counts requires partnering with organizations who are already making progress on some of the most entrenched issues within their communities.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Graham: Employee involvement is critical to nurturing community relationships. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, offering innovative, accessible, and engaging ways for employees to participate throughout the year can help support a sense of belonging. For example, at Visa Foundation, we launched the Visa Foundation Matches program, which matches financial gifts made by Visa employees to eligible charitable organizations on a 1:1 basis up to U.S. $10,000 per calendar year.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Graham—it’s been an honor!

Graham Macmillan is a social impact leader and a champion for advancing economic opportunity and entrepreneurship through philanthropy and investment.  As the president of Visa Foundation, Graham develops and executes the foundation’s impact investing and grantmaking strategy in support of its mission to help diverse-owned micro and small businesses around the world thrive and prosper. In addition, Graham oversees all of the foundation’s work addressing broader community needs and humanitarian response. (First published on the Ladderworks website on September 07, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Shikha Tandon. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.