On Sunday 25 September 2005 Andrew Marr interviewed Sir Tom Hunter, Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist
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Sir Tom Hunter, Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist
Of all the many myths about Scotland our most perfidious is that the Scots are unhappy to part with their hard-earned cash.
One man who has dramatically proved this wrong is the business tycoon and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter.
He has donated $1 million to Bill Clinton's global initiative for Africa which is a new venture for the former President in his battle to alleviate world poverty.
Now Tom Hunter joins me from Ayrshire. Good morning Sir Tom.
Morning Andrew, how are you?
I'm extremely well. I hope you are too. For those who don't know it just give us briefly the sort of Tom Hunter story. You come from a long family of shopkeepers and you've made an absolute mint originally with footwear, is that right?
Yes. I was brought up in a little mining village here in Ayrshire called New Cumnock, emphasis on the "New". And my dad was the local grocer and I worked in the shop from an early age. New Cumnock was based on deep coal mining but in about 1984 the mines closed and my dad had to shut up shop. I went off to university, couldn't get a job, nobody would employ me for obvious reasons probably. And I hit upon this idea, pure luck, about training shoes and then shell suits. I hope you've still got your shell suit Andrew? And em...
Not on me at the moment...
And I was lucky enough to sell the company in 1998 for a very large cheque.
You then took the large cheque, made more money, as clever people do. And you've become more and more interested in selling, in giving it away in different ways - giving something back to the community. What was the sort of... was there a moment when you suddenly thought, well I've got all this money. I've got enough cars, I've got enough fine meals or whatever it is. It's time to put something back. Was there something that catalysed that for you?
Yes. But I think I was very lucky to sell my first business and at 37, I got, as I said, a very big cheque. And I had to take time out then to educate myself about what I was going to do. And once I had satisfied all the material needs, the houses, the cars, the boats, the planes which I'm very proud of as well, I thought there must be something more and I came across a gentleman in New York called Vartan Gregorian who's president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. And Andrew Carnegie had always been a kind of hero of mine and when I sat with Vartan basically that was the kind of moment that I decided that making the money was only half of the equation.
And just to remind us, how much money have you actually given over, or are going to give over to the Clinton Foundation?
What we're doing with President Clinton is we're doing a joint initiative with his Foundation and our Foundation, and we're going to put in an initial $100 million into that.
That's a heck of a lot of money, and I've read, I don't know if this is true, that the idea is to focus on a couple of African countries and try and make the change there to prove generally that if you put enough effort into one area you can transform it. And then to spread the change widely rather than just scatter it across the continent, is that right?
Yes. I don't hold myself out to be an expert on these things but through President Clinton and through meeting others we have came across some of the biggest brains on this who've been doing this for a lifetime. And what struck us was that there's fantastic work happening in different spheres, but no one had really joined it up together.
So we're going to take a kind of holistic approach to this so it's going to be an integrated approach of agriculture, of healthcare, of education, of economic self-sustainability and try to prove the model into different communities, and then hopefully the governments of these countries will then take it on.
Sir Tom, whatever else happens to you in your life you will not die disgraced. Thank you very much indeed for joining us and giving us a good news story on the programme. Thank you very much.
NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.
Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy
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