From Gold Coast Shaping To Luxembourg Philanthrocapitalist Fund!
Firewire’s founder can’t stop, won’t stop.
You might know him as the gent who founded Firewire Surfboards, which has been, regardless of your opinion on the shapes, a disruptive and successful company (Kelly Slater is now heavily involved on a financial level). But since stepping out of the shaping bay, Nev Hyman has pulled focus on a more ambitious task; philanthrocapitalism.
But, what does that word mean exactly?
The more pertinent question is what it represents here; In short, a fund called NevEarth, a project in pursuit of revolutionising affordable, durable housing – particularly for disaster-ravaged countries.
It’s a pursuit that’s seen a Gold Coast surfer who started out shaping boards, touch down in the European banking capital of Luxembourg, rubbing bespoke designer suit shoulders with the EU’s most dynamic financiers.
And surprisingly (or maybe not so much?), these financiers can’t help but have their attention stolen by this vibrant foreign philanthropist.
But, let’s rewind. You may remember a Stab article last year, which applauded Nev’s then-new venture, NevHouse, a Good Design Award-winning project which created homes, schools and medical clinics in Vanuatu following Cyclone Pam. “This is a house that’ll last 100 years that’s impervious to bacteria, free of maintenance, and to a degree withstand (category 5) hurricanes and earthquakes,” he said at the time. “So from this perspective, they are important tools for disaster relief and it can be built and taken down again in just two days. What’s more, it’s culturally relevant to its host nation and community.”
While not a charity (the cost of a school room is around $50k), Nev is attempting to create a (relatively) cheap housing program for countries prone to disaster. With the right government investment, a lot of lives can be improved, and potentially saved.
So, how did we land in Luxembourg?
Nev is launching a philanthrocapitalist fund there, which aims to raise EU20m.
With this funding, he’ll create an echo village and manufacturing base for NevEarth on the Gold Coast, where the first production plants will be installed, along with an eco village, training centre, R&D facility, accommodation, and a model village. The Gold Coast is kinda perfect; a first-world city with generous resources, which exists in a sub-tropical climate not too dissimilar from those Nev aims to assist. This’ll then become the NevHouse manufacturing hub for Oceania, and will be the template for delivering the in-country manufacturing model globally.
“This project has the potential to create jobs on the Gold Coast, while bringing a brand new industry to the city that has the potential to make a real difference to the world,” says Nev.
With a mandate from Vanuatu’s Prime Minister for the construction of 40,000 homes there, and work in effect with the Mexican government and indigenous Australian communities, Nev now heads to London to speak at the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry conference, where he’ll essentially ask rich people to turn out their pockets for a very good reason. Surely the evolution of this gent has been one surfing’s more intriguing of late? We must applaud an entrepreneur/philanthropist who understands the realities of commerce and social change. Keep an eye on NevEarth, because it isn’t dropping gears any time soon.
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