Canadian Underwriter

A broker’s crusade to help Africans get fresh water

October 21, 2015  

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Somewhere in the legend of Band-Aid is the salient fact that Bob Geldof was an unbelievable pain in the ass. The story goes that in the ‘80s, to help save famine victims in Ethiopia, he shot the whole day down again and again with his rock star pals, nagging them to their breaking points where they agreed: okay, okay, we’ll record, and yes, we’ll do the concerts. Now can we please get back to watching Miami Vice and playing with our Macintoshes?

Stephen Mallory has a few things in common with Geldof. Hey, he has a band, too. It’s called The Cherry Trees Band; their music, he says, “varies from soft to hard rock” with vocals that kind of remind you of vintage folkie stylings. And Mallory has a cause, too. His band put out an album available on iTunes and Amazon and elsewhere, trying to raise money for a clean water initiative run by the Global Aid Network. And he’s got this group of about 25 do-gooders—business types, graphic artists, web designers, social media experts, musicians—calling themselves “Team Change the World” and hoping to raise $25,500 to fund three wells (each costs $8,500) for 3,000 people: one well in Tanzania, one in Togo and one in Benin.

And Mallory is relentless. He’s bugged Top Broker through a series of phone calls, trying to enlist us to get on board and write an article about the project, but because we’re nasty cynics over here who will probably die alone (watching our vintage Miami Vice episodes on DVD), we told him in so many words, “Steve, it’s not a story until you actually get an insurer to cough up some bucks.”

But Steve Mallory is also relentlessly nice, and so he went away. And then he came back, and damned if he didn’t get Trisura to put in $5,000. CEO Mike George says they “were only too pleased to be able to help. On a personal level, having lived in Tanzania in East Africa when I was a boy, I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact this type of donation can have on hundreds of people in a community.”

Okay, so Steve got one. You got one insurer. And because we’re nasty cynics, we told him to please go away because it’s only one—but damn it! He went and got another five grand from Travelers, which reports it’s was “happy to contribute…” And then he got Markel International to contribute five grand.

On top of all this, his band will play to raise more money at a Toronto watering hole, Hugh’s Room, on November 23. Why does he even care? (we grumbled).

“For about the price of what you and I would spend to get a flatscreen TV put in on our basement wall, to feed a thousand people fresh water for 25 years for 8,500 bucks, that intrigued me,” says Mallory. “But when I found out further what the well actually does…! It prompts people to actually build schools nearby. Young girls are saved from actually having to walk through the woods and through dangerous conditions. There’s education, there’s sanitation, there’s nutrition—and so all the spin-off benefits from a measly 8,500 bucks… it just seemed to me that this was something I had to act on and try to make somewhat scalable.”

See what we mean? Nice.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.