Thursday, February 24, 2011

Poverty and the 7 Virtues

Every once in a while, a TSB reader wil send me the seed of an idea for a blog post that is too good to pass up.

This is one of those days.

It originates from a quote sent my way from Jim Gilbert, otherwise known as "Canada's Huggable Car Dealer".

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it"

A quote like that would resonate with a guy like Jim ever since since he and his wife Dawna started from nothing back in 1979 and have built a used car dealership that has become the envy of the industry from coast-to-coast. But, the quote also got me thinking that perhaps it would also strike a chord with an another entrepreneurial type; in this case, the daughter of a New Glasgow, N.S. used car salesman who recently made a pitch to help pummel poverty on CBC's, "Dragons Den".

From what I understand, Barb Stegemann, a 41-year old mother of two, is the first Atlantic Canadian woman to slay the "Dragons".

Barb Stegemann, CEO of 7 Virtues Beauty Inc., is an author and consultant with backgrounds in sociology, journalism and economic development. Her book, "The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen" was written to help inspire other women get into the world of business. The book was dedicated to her best friend from King’s College, who was wounded in the war in Afghanistan. “I just kept trying to find ways to support his mission and one day I found an article on this gentleman who was growing oils in Afghanistan trying to help the farmers get off the illegal poppy crop. He had this campaign about how if you made perfumes from oils you could really help their economy.”

In the end, three "Dragons" offered support but Stegemann decided to go with Brett Wilson. Using the "Dragons’" money, she expanded production from 1,000 bottles to 10,000, the number needed to approach the Bay and land a nationwide deal. Barb is now focused on expanding her vision and her "7 Virtues" business by sourcing oils from Haiti, Israel and Palestine.

Stegemann's initiative challenges some of the most fundamental aspects of any effort to wipe out poverty. As she explains it, “People are generous and kind and I think that’s lovely but you … don’t necessarily want someone to raise money and donate it to you – you want people to welcome you and include you. When I look at the world … all the aid that was donated, where did it go? We really need to do trade.”

In his New York Times best-seller, "Parliament of Whores", P.J. O'Rourke writes, "You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money". In that spirit of knowing what happens when you just throw money at a problem, does Barb Stegemann know something about the interrelationship about poverty and wealth that most of the free world has missed?

Is there something myopic-visioned governments and clarity-challenged non-profit worlds need to pay attention to in this story?

Could it be a basic understanding of the difference between a hand out and a hand up?

"Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that"

P.S. ... Atlantic Canadian readers of TSB might be interested in knowing "Dragons’ Den" is holding auditions in Halifax on March 15, 2011. To watch the show or get more information visit For more information on Barb Stegemann and her products visit

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1 comment:

Ken Mikalauskas said...

A great entrepreneur that is making a difference in the world.