Andreas Widmer, former bodyguard for Pope John Paul II and co-founder of the SEVEN Fund, a non-profit attempting to end poverty through private enterprise, to speak at Fairfield University


 

"Entrepreneurs create products, services and jobs. They expand economies, improve people's lives, provide employment (high and rising wages) and bring about competition. A competitive environment, in turn, gives rise to efficiency, meritocracy and further innovations and entrepreneurial drive." -The Seven Fund

Image: Andreas WidmerAfter Andreas Widmer worked as a bodyguard for Pope John Paul II, he found his place in the world.

He saw his calling as helping the world's poor, but not through one-time, aid-based funding that came in a lump sum, but through supporting entrepreneurs and fostering innovative business practices. Widmer will speak at Fairfield University about his role in helping to found the SEVEN Fund, a "virtual non-profit," when he delivers the 2010 St. Thomas More Lecture on Tuesday, April 13 at 7 p.m.

The annual lecture, free and open to the public, will explore social entrepreneurship and is entitled, "Strong Faith, Sound Business." It is co-sponsored by Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life and the Golden Stags, a group of Fairfield alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago from the University. It will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room.

The SEVEN Fund, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was co-founded by Widmer to support those who despite living in poverty are "self-determined, action-oriented, and effective." Its goal is to dramatically increase the rate of innovation and diffusion of enterprise-based solutions to poverty. The organization accomplishes this by finding and investing in the innovations of pioneering thought leaders and entrepreneurs inside the world's poorest nations.

"If we, as a society, want to make progress on the issue of poverty - and pursue wealth-creation, we have to alter the currently prevailing mindset of looking for aid based, one-size-fits-all government-led solutions," he said in an interview with the John Templeton Foundation.

Before embarking on his business career, Widmer served as a Pontifical Swiss Guard from 1986-1988, protecting Pope John Paul II.

Since then, he has worked extensively in the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin Americas, working in high-tech, international business strategy consulting and economic development.

He worked at Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital firm. He helped lead OTF Group, Eprise Corporation, Dragon Systems and FTP Software. He has participated in the early stage of four startup companies with cumulative exits valued at more than $730 million. He has brought more than 100 leading-edge technology products to market. His current projects include advising high tech and medical device startup companies on strategy, venture capital and angel fund-raising efforts.

Widmer wrote two chapters of the book, "In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty" (Templeton Press, 2009). He has been interviewed by the Financial Times, Bloomberg News, Sky TV, Kigali Times, Fast Company and Catholic Digest.

For more information, contact the Center for Faith and Public Life at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3415 or visit www.fairfield.edu/cfpl.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 25, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 248