Who he is:
a professor of management at Penn's Wharton School of Business and director of its Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Research Center.
What he does for Africa:
MacMillan is a torchbearer for the idea of "entrepreneurial philanthropy," which uses charitable donations to support small businesses that have bold ideas aimed at solving such social problems as hunger, disease and malnutrition. One of his successes, celebrated recently by the Financial Times, is a chicken-feed plant in Zambia that's becoming an important economic engine for its region.
Chicken feed is a bold idea?
Indeed. "Chicken is the major source of protein in Africa," MacMillan says. "If we can make cheap, very high-quality chicken feed, people will feed chickens, and what you'll eventually see is meat production." The six-year-old feed plant in Zambia produces 350 tons of chicken feed a month — translating into 280,000 pounds of poultry for the table.
"Many, many people want to give," MacMillan says. "And what they do is put money into a tin cup, and the tin cup keeps coming back.
"If you're not careful, you create a dependency. You want to create self-sufficiency. We say, if you put in enough money to start a plant, we'll get the plant started and that tin cup will never come back again. We'll solve a problem that will continue to be solved."
Friends in smart places:
One of the secrets to the chicken-feed plant's success is the recipe for the feed mix, engineered at Penn's world-class veterinary school using sophisticated linear programming technology.
More credit where it's due:
MacMillan tends to get most of the glory in business circles, but he's quick to acknowledge his Wharton colleague, James Thompson.
As it turns out, Thompson was tending to business in Africa the day that the Daily News spoke with MacMillan. "We have this system where he goes out and gets his ass bitten by tsetse flies, and I get credit," MacMillan laughs.
MacMillan was born in South Africa (his first job was in a gold mine, "a pretty crappy job") and was able to play a small role, from right here in Philly, in the country's re-awakening after apartheid.
Not long after Nelson Mandela's African National Congress and its alliance came to power, MacMillan organized a high-level policy teach-in at Wharton for representatives from the new government. "We had a group of people who'd run a brilliant bush war for 40 years, and they were smart enough to know that they had a lot to learn about running a country," he says.
To get involved in his cause:
To contribute to MacMillan's projects, contact Philomena Rhoades, Wharton External Affairs, 215-898-4177
» READ MORE: rhoadesp@ wharton.upenn.edu
— Becky Batcha