Bill Abrams spent over 30 years in the media industry. He worked with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and ABC News as journalist and senior executive. From 2001 to 2005, Abrams worked as president of New York Times Television, the documentary production company. In 2005, he switched gears and took a full-time position as the executive director of Trickle Up.
Trickle Up is an innovative non-profit company designed to help people across the world emerge from poverty. They provide grants, helping participants become eligible for microfinancing. Trickle Up offers seed grants of between $100 and $250 to participants, who then can start up their own small businesses. Participants are also given structured business and livelihood training to help them run their businesses and manage their money.
Before Trickle Up, Abrams was involved with a few different charities and non-profit companies, but his full-time work was in the media. After three decades in a business centered on profits, he’s focusing all of his attention on trying to help the poor. That’s why he’s our “Man of the Day.”
We caught up with Abrams for a quick interview.
Why Trickle Up? Why help fund the poor through microenterprise?
We help the very poorest women—people living on less than a dollar a day—become self-sufficient. When they start or expand businesses, with Trickle Up’s help, they are able to increase their income and assets, save money and gain access to credit, gain new skills and confidence. When people graduate from Trickle Up, they have new resources that will help them create new futures for themselves and their families.
What makes a good man, in your eyes?
The ability to give yourself to others. To use your skills, assets and advantages for good purposes. To truly be a citizen of the world, with all the rights and responsibilities that it entails.
Are you a good man? Why or why not?
Absolutely! Always have been. But I became a better man five years ago when I joined Trickle Up, after a 30-year career in the media business. I’d always been charitable and active in nonprofit causes, but Trickle Up was my first full-time nonprofit job. Being able to dedicate myself, fully and totally, to Trickle Up’s mission of alleviating poverty has enabled me to be a better person (and I say “person,” rather than “man”). Now I can accomplish more to help those who were born without privilege.
Who has been the ultimate good man in your life?
My dad. He was a classic child of the Depression, and his total focus was on making a better life for his family. He was modest, unpretentious, hard-working, honest, kind, and passionately in love with my mother. He was not particularly charitable or public-spirited, but the values he gave us and the example he set—and the freedom he gave each of his three sons to make our own paths—are my North Star. My choice for runner-up is my son Eli, who is 15 and en route to becoming a very good man.
What other men would you nominate as a “Man of the Day?” What guys, like you, are doing equally awesome things?
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, is a personal hero. He uses his platform to open our eyes to poverty and injustice. He is fearless, tireless and never deterred by the magnitude of the need. His writing helped inspire me to leave corporate life and join Trickle Up. I admire how Bill Gates has used his wealth and position to create a second career that I think will ultimately leave a bigger mark on the planet than Windows. I also admire the thousands and thousands of un-famous men, both in the developed and developing worlds, who dedicate their time and talents to creating a just and sustainable planet.