What do you do when your dad is a billionaire?
In the case of Howard G. Buffett, whose dad is Warren Buffett, you become a farmer.
“I have 1,500 acres in Illinois,” said Buffett.
But you also use your money to set up a Foundation to spread modern and sustainable farming practices to places like the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We don’t have to go ask for money. We don’t have to do an annual fundraiser. We aren’t making donors happy. We don’t have that burden. So for us, we have to show up in the toughest places and we should be the risk capital and if we fail 9 our of 10 times that’s okay because the time we succeed we’re going to hit a grand slam,” he said.
And how much money is he putting into this project?
“We’ll spend about $130 million this year,” said Buffett.
And he is very aware of the pitfalls of parachuting in to a culture you don’t understand.
“You can’t just show up, drop in and say this is how you’re going to do it. Two things are probably going to happen: I’m probably going to create conflict at some point because everybody isn’t getting the same thing as you’ve specialized what you’ve done and excluded other people. And the other thing is that at some point you go home.”
Buffett has written a book about his work called “40 Chances” – based on the concept that given the human lifespan, a good farmer has about 40 seasons to get it right.
“We hope that our efforts contribute to peace and stability and we don’t know the answer to that but we’re willing to try,” he said. “We’re going to do as much as we can in the time we have left.”