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Houstonian Spreads Good Will Across Continents

Robert Scharar, Commonwealth Funds’ Advisor, brings donations from Houston to Africa for the Open Arms Home for Children.

Houston-based fund Advisor for Commonwealth Funds, Mr. Robert Scharar, not only assesses companies’ potentials, monitors assets and reviews fund performance – he is also a humanitarian, catalyzing philanthropic efforts in his wake.

What started out as a single donation of a wicker bassinet and rocking chair that couldn’t be brought home, Scharar has expanded his charitable giving to include a variety orphanages and organizations with participation from individuals and corporations alike.


As a well-traveled Houstonian, Scharar is conscious of the needs of those who are less fortunate, and he actively engages those he’s connected with to help him make a difference. Beginning “When you travel the world, you see first-hand the needs of people,” Scharar explained. “And if you’re capable of making a difference – no matter how big or small – it’s important to do so.” After over a decade of philanthropy, Scharar continues to take advantage of his United Airlines Platinum and British Airways Gold memberships by traveling with additional luggage full of goods and supplies earmarked for lucky boys and girls in African orphanages.

During his latest trip to Africa, Scharar enlisted the help of his Memorial Drive United Methodist Church Sunday School and coworkers at Commonwealth Funds to collect supplies, including handmade blankets, books, clothes and Beanie Babies™, for the Open Arms organization in Malawi. For this orphanage, Scharar has organized over half a dozen gifting programs over several years. Once in Africa, Scharar and the orphanage matron, Mrs. Phiri, brought the donations inside and caught up with orphanage workers before holding the first blanket recipient: a small infant.

In addition to working with local Houstonians to collect donations to bring on regular visits, Scharar reaches out to local businesses in Africa, persuading them to donate and help on a regular basis. Through his frequent trips, Scharar has built strong relationships with those in the villages and towns who he has enlisted to also help support the orphanage. “It’s important to spend time in other countries around the world,” said Scharar. “You don’t truly know a place until you meet the people who call it their home.” Scharar’s humanitarian focus has aided his professional life and career as the Commonwealth Funds’ Advisor. Through extensive face to face contact with people in countries the Funds invest in, Scharar has built a substantial knowledge of international investing. By getting to know all types of people, Scharar has gained a better understanding of the countries they call home.

Founded in 1995, Open Arms works to give Malawi orphans the chance to grow up in a loving and secure environment. Because Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries and the rising orphaned babies, in 2000 Neville and Rosemarie Bevis took over the orphanage to continue providing care for children who need it. With nearly 120 children, some as young as 12 hours old, Open Arms has two home locations in Blantyre and Mangochi, serving over 300 children daily. For more information or to donate to Open Arms, please visit www.openarmsmalawi.org.