elea Foundation intensifies its investment activities and emphasizes thematic aspects

27 December 2010

Besides the active enlargement of its project portfolio within the three core areas of the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization, the elea team invested during the year a lot of time and energy to support the existing project partners and opened the elea portfolio to first philanthropic investors. Moreover, different thematic aspects were emphasized.

Peter Wuffli, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, explained: "Over the last year we have given much thought to the ethical basis of our work. The concept of ethics in globalization forms part of our Foundation's name, so we set out to establish exactly what we mean by ethics and why new answers to old ethical questions are of particular relevance in an era of globalization."

However, despite this venture into the field of philosophy the Foundation's principal aim is and remains to make a tangible impact in parts of the world where people live on USD 2 or less a day - regions where elea is helping to improve life prospects and provide access to the opportunities that globalization offers. The Foundation has made encouraging progress in the last twelve months. The elea portfolio now encompasses around a dozen investments in all three regions of the southern hemisphere, each geared to one of the three priorities elea has defined: new technologies, global value chains, and skill building programs.

One of elea's first partnerships - promoting wind power in northern Madagascar through the Mad'Eole project - has already made considerable advances: four villages with a total population of some 5'000 people have been electrified, and first signs of the positive impact on commercial activities are beginning to show through. elea has secured the support of another foundation which will make a substantial contribution to strengthening the project's management organization, and has been actively involved in planning and communicating the project's progress. The Foundation's equity holding in the Swiss start-up company Pakka AG is also delivering results. Pakka imports organically-grown fair trade certified agricultural produce from the southern hemisphere to Europe, thereby providing stable incomes and safeguarding jobs for small farmers. The firm's attractive product range includes spiced cashew nuts from South India, which are sold in Switzerland via retailers and the Internet. elea is actively involved in Pakka's board of directors and has recruited an additional major investor to strengthen the firm's capital base, helping it to do business effectively in a niche area that has a big impact but also presents many challenges. Further highly promising investments have recently been made in vocational skills training in Johannesburg (South Africa), Hyderabad (India) and Gbéhoué (Benin).

elea's strategy, structures, networks and decision-making processes are now firmly established. Indeed, the Foundation's strong project pipeline will occasionally exceed its own financial capacity, and it is therefore becoming increasingly important to identify further potential sources of capital. Andreas Kirchschläger, CEO of the Foundation, commented: "We are looking for philanthropic investors who are attracted by our philosophy and direction and who would like to join us in investing in our project portfolio. In return, we offer active exchange with like-minded people and social entrepreneurs, opportunities to experience our projects at first hand, and transparent reporting on the social impact of our investments." Using a method elea developed itself that measures and compares aspects of that social impact, the Foundation aims to help ensure that philanthropic resources are targeted more carefully in the areas where they can do the most good.

The elea Foundation wants to achieve sustainable, positive and tangible impact to the direct benefit of people challenged by the globalization process. It targets the poor at the base of the pyramid through entrepreneurial philanthropic projects that align ideas with capital.

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