Jacinta McDonell is a social entrepreneur and advocate of using ‘business for good’. In 2008 Jacinta and her brother Justin, launched the highly successful US franchise Anytime Fitness in Australia. With over 3000 clubs and 2 million members worldwide, it has become the quickest growing segment of the world’s fastest growing fitness chain and is Australia’s number one health club chain. In 2015 Jacinta launched Urban Yoga, a world first yoga concept and late last year Jacinta also established the Human Kind Project.
HKP is a for-purpose foundation that enables businesses to build brand equity while creating social change. Jacinta was inspired to create this foundation after she personally raised over $100,000 for The Hunger Project Australia. This donation enabled 200 communities to purchase food-processing equipment, provide 2,000 people with microfinance loans, (often used by communities to buy seeds/fertiliser), and train up to 50,000 rural villagers on agricultural practices.
She shares with us the experience that initiated the Human Kind Project, why she continues to work tirelessly to fund and support organisations that deliver change in the world and the top 3 lessons she has learned so far in life.
What inspired you to set up the Human Kind Project ?
I had been searching for a way to do more for some time after hearing Muhammed Yunus speak about social business. In 2014, I travelled to Malawi on a leadership immersion trip and decided at that point I wanted to be an advocate in using ‘business for good’ and initiating social change.
What were you doing before setting up the Human Kind Project? Was there an event or circumstance that served as a catalyst for this work?
I viewed the work of The Hunger Project in Malawi and met a woman that I felt immediately connected to. She was my age and like me had children, but three of her children had died at an early age. She was illiterate and lived in an area where issues like hunger, malaria and HIV were impacting her community.
When she was asked questions about her hopes and aspirations, she answered just as I would. To see her children educated, healthy and happy. The only reason she wasn’t able to achieve these aspirations was because she wasn’t gifted with the opportunity to do so. She was born in a country and area without the opportunity or resources to have this for herself or her family. This connection showed me the true face if what it means to be human. This was the birth of Human Kind Project.
How does Human Kind Project bring your unique talents to life? In what way does it give you personal fulfilment or a sense of purpose?
Human Kind Project allows me to talk to other people and entrepreneurs about the impact that we can have in our world, and it also gives me the ability to demonstrate how we can drive business success while at the same time, be doing good. I love this. I want to see a shift in humanity so that we all recognise that our talents and desires are the same. I want to give a voice to the amazing women and men I have met that simply don’t have the opportunity to thrive like we do.
What drives you to keep on going?
The thought that in my lifetime, we could see the end of world hunger and poverty.
Is there a highlight of the organisation so far?
The impact that our funds have achieved in our first 10 months, and the lives we are helping to change.
How does your work serve a higher purpose on planet earth? And how does that make you feel?
I believe that all humans deserve access to opportunity, and the work of Human Kind Project is done to drive that equality. Our work connects me to my own sense of power to change and contribute to not only my family and community, but also to those communities I might never meet. This connects me to a larger version of myself, and for that I am grateful every day.
What great lesson or lessons have you learnt so far in life?
- Most Not-For-Profit organisations are not necessarily run like a business would be; they can be ineffective and therefore, unable to create any impact at all. It takes time and due-diligence to find ‘best practice’ organisations that deliver sustainable and real social change.
- I believe the way philanthropy is viewed is changing, and for the better.
- I believe that consumers now want a brand to stand for something more than profit and that this will drive social change.
How would you like to be remembered?
I’d like to be remembered as someone who helps others to think outside the realm of what’s already possible, to think differently.
If you could give one piece of advice what would it be and why?
It would be that we are all so much more capable than we think we are.
If we all just knew and believed how truly capable we are, we would have a global community that provides positivity, empowerment and equal opportunity for all of Human Kind.
How can people find out more about you and Human Kind Project?
We are building some cool initiatives in the coming months, so subscribe to our newsletter on our website to be kept in the loop. www.humankindproject.org.au
A few of my favourite bonus questions with Jacinda…
Who or what is your favourite?
- Musician? City and Colour
- Author or Book? Blake Mycoskie (Founder of Toms)
- Mantra or quote? “Live Life as though everything is rigged in your favour” RUMI
Find out more about Human Kind Project
So tell me, what is your Legacy Project going to be? Let’s learn from Jacinta and create a world where the purpose of business is to do good and drives social change. Let’s do this together by sharing this interview with your friends and colleagues. And please share with me your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. Tell me your ideas, plans and thoughts to create a business that makes a difference – I can’t wait to hear them!
Live With Purpose!