Thursday 18 October 2018

O'Brien receives prestigious award from Clinton

Former US President Bill Clinton, right, with Denis O'Brien, far left, Pepe Julian Onziema, Right Reverend Christopher
Senyonjo, Luis A Moreno, Carlos Slim Helu, Katie Stagliano and Donna Karan in New York
Former US President Bill Clinton, right, with Denis O'Brien, far left, Pepe Julian Onziema, Right Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, Luis A Moreno, Carlos Slim Helu, Katie Stagliano and Donna Karan in New York

Edel Kennedy

former US president Bill Clinton has given a prestigious award to businessman Denis O'Brien for corporate leadership and work in Haiti after the earthquake.

Mr O'Brien was one of six recipients at the sixth annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards in New York.

Mr Clinton's awards went to human rights activists, business and philanthropy leaders, and a 14-year old social entrepreneur for "outstanding contributions".

He said the work being done by the award recipients was "nothing short of extraordinary".

In the citation for the award, Mr O'Brien's role as chairman of the Digicel Group is detailed, including the company's growth since he founded it in 2001.

There is also recognition for his work in Haiti in the wake of its devastating earthquake.

"O'Brien is one of Ireland's leading entrepreneurs, with extensive investments across several sectors, including international telecoms, radio, media, property, aircraft leasing, golf, and other leisure interests," the citation said.

"In 2010, O'Brien was named goodwill ambassador for the city of Port-au-Prince in Haiti by the mayor in recognition of his efforts to rebuild Haiti and attract foreign direct investment in the aftermath of the earthquake that year. Digicel is the single largest private investor in Haiti."

Meanwhile, in Time magazine, Mr Clinton writes that Mr O'Brien's move to make cash transactions available for the world's poorest via mobile phones is world changing.

The Time cover story featuring Mr Clinton holding a globe is entitled "5 Ideas that are changing the World" and Mr O'Brien's idea is under the heading 'No 1 -- Technology'.

Mr Clinton wrote: "Denis O'Brien, worked with a Canadian bank, Scotiabank, to provide a service that lets Haitians withdraw cash and make deposits and person-to-person transfers using their mobile phones without a bank account.

"By the end of 2011, this service had processed over six million transactions."

The awards, at which designer Donna Karan spoke, recognises those who "demonstrate visionary leadership in addressing global challenges".

Other recipients included:

• Carlos Slim Helu, founder of Fundacion Carlos Slim.

• Luis A Moreno, of Inter-American Development Bank.

• The Right Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, executive director of St Paul's Reconciliation and Equality Centre, Uganda.

• Katie Stagliano, the 14-year-old founder and chief executive gardener of Katie's Krops, South Carolina.

Irish Independent

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