Pershing Square Foundation’s scholarship initiatives are meant to train a new batch of social entrepreneurs, according to Bill Ackman.
The prominent hedge fund manger disclosed during his interview with Financial Times that his foundations scholarship is not meant to force someone to work for an investment bank.
The Pershing Square Foundation
Bill Ackman and Karen Ackman set up Pershing Square Foundation in 2006.
Bill Ackman is signatory to ‘The Giving Pledge’ which attracted some of the wealthiest individuals such as Jeff Skoll, to publicly commit to dedicating a substantial part of their wealth to philanthropy.
Of late, business schools have been attracting contribution from hedge funds. Ackman owned Pershing Square Foundation has announced a gift of £4.5 million to Saïd Business School at Oxford University. Earlier Brevan Howard donated £20.1 million over eight years to Imperial College Business School in London to set up a research centre in financial economics.
Bill Ackman’s gift to Saïd Business School is meant to fund up to five scholars in a year to participate in the school’s “1+1” programme, that facilitates students to pursue an MBA and an Oxford University specialist master’s degree in two years.
Justifying the rationale behind his contribution to the Saïd Business School’s initiative, Mr. Ackman in his Financial Times interview indicated the purpose of the scholarships is to train the next Andre Youn, whose One Acre Fund provides small loans to farmers in Africa through seed and fertilizer, besides providing a facilitating mechanism to sell the harvest. The One Acre Fund, however, takes a share of the profit as repayment of the loan.
Bill Ackman’s Indications In His Interview
Mr. Ackman has indicated in his interview that social entrepreneurs engaged in non-profit activities lack business background. Hence his scholarship would subsidize someone’s education so that the student is encouraged to pursue a career having a meaningful social impact. Besides Bill Ackman also liked the idea of the “1+1” programme initiated by his former finance professor at Harvard Business School, Peter Tufano, the dean of Saïd Business School.
The hedge fund manager elaborated further in his interview about his endowment objectives. Bill Ackman emphasized that the scholars coming under his endowment should pledge to serve for the greater good after completing graduation besides donating back the value of the scholarship, if their means permit.
In his interview with Financial Times, Bill Ackman also briefly touched upon the controversial topic of Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF). Mr. Ackman considered the global nutrition group Herbalife as a pyramid scheme and announced his intention to short the company in December. However, subsequently the activist investor Carl Icahn bought 16.5 percent in the company. Bill Ackman indicated in his interview that if he manages to close down the nutrition company, he would consider it as the greatest achievement of his life.