Gemelli founder James Stewart tells how it all began.
This business started by accident. I finished my last job and planned to take time off to consider next steps. But emails kept coming, the phone kept ringing. And people kept asking, “Hey, if you're at a loose end, could you give us a hand with this?”
I remember sitting on the beach at Kaiteriteri with my wife.
She said, “It's like a little business is starting here. Why don't you give it a nudge and see what happens?” So, I printed some business cards and three months later I’d hired the first member of the Gemelli team.
What’s with the name?
James Stewart Consultants was a bit boring. We’d just had twin boys, so I named the baby business Gemelli, the Italian for twins. But Gemelli has come to stand for balancing our twin objectives of social impact and financial sustainability.
Our why is simple.We exist to destroy poverty
Poverty starts with financial deprivation, but it can include social exclusion, lack of opportunities, environmental degradation, and spiritual poverty. Our purpose dates from a flight to South Africa when I worked for the World Bank. Before all transactions used cards, you accumulated coins in various currencies when you travelled. And on long haul flights, they’d collect those coins for a cause. On this particular flight, I watched the doco on the orphanage the collection supported. The film followed half a dozen girls through their education. At the end, each girl told the camera what they planned to do when they graduated. One said, “I want to be a nurse.” Another one said, “I want to be a teacher.” But the last girl stared right down the lens and said, “I want to destroy poverty.”
Stumbling out of fog into sunlight
It was one of those moments where everything makes complete sense. The whole purpose of my journey through development studies at university and my career in international development suddenly became clear. I feel fortunate to have a clear calling as my cornerstone for life. Born into white, middle-class Christchurch, I can use my privilege to get rich, or to help those who weren’t born so lucky. So, when I founded Gemelli, I knew destroying poverty was our kaupapa, right from the start.
“Gemelli bring flexibility, breadth, and simplicity. Their ability to take complex subjects and put them into a robust context from a professional peer review point of view, but also make them easy to read for someone who has no financial understanding at all adds huge value.”