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Sean Beautement: reaping the rewards by feeding his SDG passion

Last Updated Apr 2019

Sean Beautement: reaping the rewards by feeding his SDG passion

By Leigh Andrews

Imagine a world without serious hunger. This isn’t a fairy-tale – believe it or not, there is currently enough food in the world to feed everyone. And yet, every day, people go hungry. This complete travesty of justice is why Sean Beautement CA(SA) is on a mission to make the UN’s second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – that of zero hunger – a global reality by 2030 through his involvement with Rise Against Hunger

There’s no denying that, when successfully met, SDG 2will be a world-changer. The aim of this SDG is to end current hunger while achieving food security, improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture. This is crucial, as ongoing conflict, drought and climate-change-linked disasters means the proportion of the undernourished is unfortunately once again on the rise.

In fact, at this moment globally, one in nine people are undernourished – that’s 815-million across the world, with almost four million African children alone facing food insecurity. Add that to the stunted brain capacity resulting from malnutrition in the early foundation years and it’s clear why we can’t afford to turn a blind eye.

That’s where Rise Against Hunger (RAH) comes in – started in the United States in 1998, the international organisation co-ordinates the distribution of balanced, nutritious meals and other life-saving aid around the world. But RAH cannot end world hunger by itself, so it collaborates with other entities, in order to achieve more together. As there’s also only so much that donors can give, RAH is not only focused on food packing but also creating sustainable solutions to complement the meals provided, bringing together corporates, government, NGOs and individual donors and volunteers, with the combined mission to end hunger in the next 11 years. RAH is active in India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Italy, with the Africa chapter celebrating a decade this year across its branches in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.

Time for a change: From corporate craziness to a life of giving back

Sean says that some of RAH’s work involves “giving the fish,” while some of it is “teaching people to fish”. But the initial food-packing aspect is how Sean first got his taste for the fulfilment of this type of social entrepreneurship. While still working in the corporate world, he took part in a Mandela Day function with Rise Against Hunger, and occasionally attended their ‘second Saturday’ warehouse food-packing events. The sheer impact the volunteers made on the day always struck him when driving home – creating meals to feed 20,000 children, and having fun while doing so.

That purposeful involvement culminated in a bold move to exit the prescriptive corporate realm completely in 2014 and focus solely on entrepreneurship and giving back, despite having had a varied, extensive career across numerous sectors across the globe. Sean attributes much of his own career success to the people who took the time to help him prosper amid the corporate craziness, he needed a change of scenery but also a desire to develop others, and so committed around 25% of his time to giving back.

Even though he’s a non-executive director at RAH, mainly tasked with providing the organisation’s strategic oversight, his CA(SA) background means Sean often provides extra capacity supporting the financial executive, through his auditing and general business acumen skills. While this creates a better level of trust for RAH’s donors and they achieve maximum impact for their beneficiaries, Sean’s first passion remains participating in and facilitating in Rise Against Hunger’s meal-packaging events.

It’s easy to give money and assets but much more difficult to give time, which is why Sean says: “While an hour spent giving back is an hour not billed, but I believe that ‘doing good’ is good for business and feel a moral obligation to do so. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner, as I was too busy building my career.”

The sweet smell of success, so far

Through the work of their small permanent team, as well as the donors and volunteers who also give their time, Rise Against Hunger achieved the following for the year-ending February 2019:

  • Packed more than 5 million meals
  • Impacted the lives of over 70 000 beneficiaries
  • Supported over 7 000 university students via campus food banks
  • Engaged with nearly 31 000 volunteers
  • Increased awareness of South Africa’s hunger and malnutrition crisis
  • Supported over 30 crèches through its Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme
  • These results prove Sean’s not the only one to have been bitten by the ‘give back’ bug. In fact, Rise Against Hunger has attracted the likes of high-profile volunteers like Matt Preston of Masterchef Australia fame and J’Something of local band Mi Casa, who “felt the contagion of the Rise Against Hunger movement”.
    If you’re just as hungry to help, you can – in fact, you should. Sean explains, “In general, the CA profession has a responsibility to act in the public interest, but how do you quantify this? When you have a clearly quantifiable goal – in this case, the SDG – it’s much easier for us to know whether we are achieving our responsibility or not.”

    How you can help: Rise Against Hunger’s goals for 2019

    That’s the crux of the benefit – you can clearly see the results. Fittingly, Rise Against Hunger’s future plans include more transparent delivery to beneficiaries, so donors see the value they create; while also creating easy and fun opportunities for volunteers, evolving out of pure meal-packaging events. They aim to balance this with an aggressive drive into sustainable community food development initiatives.

    In order to deliver more meals to more beneficiaries in more locations throughout South Africa, RAH’s main goal for 2019 is to partner with as many other entities as possible. Collaboration opportunities range from providing food itself to education, farming and skills development, to make a greater impact in nutrition and education through sustainable solutions that develop community-based skills and create ongoing food production.

    It’s also a case of raising awareness and interest in the fact that world hunger can be defeated by working together. Sean says “reflect on what you have in your life, realise that others need help, then make a commitment to make a difference. You’ll be surprised at the amount of receiving is involved in giving – but however you choose to help, do something now.”

    “I wonder how much money is spent in this country where the impact is not clear, maybe not even quantified, or doesn’t get used for the intended purpose – we simply have to do better and make these finite resources truly deliver impact for the public,” concludes Sean.

    In working towards meeting the SDG goals, Sean is living proof of the positive social contribution of CAs(SA) are making to the nation by measurably do their bit to make the world a better place.

    For more about Rise Against Hunger and how to get involved, visit and look out for details of RAH’s upcoming meal packing event at SAICA.