December 2014
The New 'Sexy' is Philanthropy

Prosperous urban professionals seem to have everything they want in life and more. But Mr Christian Rahnsch (Class of 2006, MBA) says they may be missing out.

Said the NBS alumnus: "In a place like Singapore, some of our biggest concerns are how successful we can become in our careers, how much wealth we can accumulate, and which top restaurants and bars we still want to hit before they become mainstream."

"Close connection to the communities we live in becomes a rare sight and caring about others has developed for some into a once-in-a-year donation exercise to a good cause. However, merely donating money is not necessarily enough for many people who desire a different level of fulfillment."

"Instead, personal involvement and building an emotional connection is what fills this void and allows people to experience a level of happiness that they might not have felt before. Thus, I believe that philanthropy is the 'new sexy'."

The revelation struck Mr Rahnsch 20 years ago when he made his first trip to Asia in 1994 to Manila, Philippines. He said: "I came close to real poverty when I saw slums in Manila, and witnessed the real struggle of people trying to survive. It was a life-changing experience as I became determined to do something about it in my lifetime."

It wasn't only his heart that was in Asia, he soon realised that he should drive his professional development in the region instead of his native Germany. In 2004, he embarked on his Master of Business Administration at NBS, after having worked in a management consulting firm in Germany for four years.

"I felt that I needed a deeper academic foundation and by that time, I had already decided to explore beyond Europe and take on the adventure to succeed in Asia," he said. "I chose NBS as I felt it had the best programme with the right balance of academic and hands-on components."

Currently the Managing Director of TrueNorth Advantage, a professional services staffing firm, Mr Rahnsch is also holding a Director's position at CENDID Energy Solutions Singapore, a German engineering firm specialising in energy efficiency for industrial plants.

But more importantly, Mr Rahnsch, hand-in-hand with his Singaporean wife Alexis, are now driven to change the world one bit at a time by supporting orphanages throughout South East Asia.

Every year, he visits these orphanages for one or two weeks, helping out with digging dirt, mixing cement and general odd jobs.

The idea for Swing for the Kids came about when Mr Rahnsch, who enjoys golfing in his free time, realised he could channel his hobby into something more meaningful. "In 2012, we thought it would be fun to gather about 30 of our friends and fellow golfers to have a great day on the golf course and raise money for a good cause."

In the last two years, the pool of money raised by Mr Rahnsch and his wife has gone to constructing a school building, new dormitories, a fully equipped library and other smaller infrastructural improvements for orphanages in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

One of his most heartwarming moments was helping a young boy in the Philippines who, before he was brought in to the orphanage, had lived on the streets for four years on his own and had been found with rat bites on his legs. "Towards the end of one of my visits at the orphanage he told me that he is the luckiest boy, and that he wants to become a successful business man when he grows up so that he can also build an orphanage to help kids just like himself," said Mr Rahnsch.

Swing for the Kids has grown in scale as more money is required to support a growing number of beneficiaries. The vision is to support the orphanages work towards sustainability, so they become self-sufficient to provide for the underprivileged kids.

For the 2015 event which will be held on 8 March at Batam, Mr Rahnsch, his wife and his team of 11 volunteers hope to attract over 200 golfers and guests. Some of them will be NBS alumni.

He said: "This is the first time since we are gearing up our fundraising efforts as we need to reach a broader audience. Ultimately, Swing for the Kids will become a major annual fund-raising event providing us with a solid financial base to fund all the projects that we have in the pipeline with the orphanages."

By Wong Sher Maine