elea Foundation looks back on a multi-faceted year

31 December 2012

The elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization looks back on important and multi-faceted 12 months. Several highlights were experienced but also a few setbacks and disappointments had to be faced. Besides the first external audit of the elea Impact Measurement Methodology (eIMM), also the stable portfolio, the Swiss Ethics Award which Pakka AG received, and the further extension of the elea Philanthropic Investors' Circle show that the elea Foundation is on the right track.

Peter Wuffli, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, shows satisfaction: "We accomplished a lot this year. The external audit by BDO Ltd., for instance, of our in-house developed methodology to systematically measure the impact was not only for us new ground. According to BDO it can be regarded as a pioneering achievement in German-speaking Europe." Furthermore, at the end of 2012, the foundation made the elea Impact Measurement Methodology (eIMM) available for interested parties in an own English publication.

A particular highlight was the presentation of the Swiss Ethics Award 2012 to Pakka. Pakka AG (one of elea's first commitments) is a Swiss start-up company that imports organically grown, fair-trade certified agricultural produce from the southern hemisphere into Europe, thus providing stable incomes and creating jobs for small farmers. elea Foundation has been an active investor in the company for more than three years. As the first outside partner (alongside the founders and their families), the foundation serves on the Board of Directors and helped Pakka AG, which operates in a high-impact but also highly demanding niche market, to refine its business model, carry out a major restructuring, and acquire further investors.

elea's portfolio of commitments remained stable in 2012, in terms of both number and content. It comprises a dozen entrepreneurial projects in three fields: new technologies, global value chains, and vocational skill building programs. Some new investments were made, besides completing first exits and extending selected partnerships.

Strengthened by the recruitment of new members at the end of last year, the highly committed team has made a variety of contributions that go beyond the financial investments of the elea Foundation. It addressed in a manifold manner the specific requirements and thus contributed to the progress of the projects of the portfolio. The foundation's objective to invest in addition to capital also ideas and energy proved to be a successful formula, as the experiences we gained show. In Madagascar, for example, a business plan for extending the use of renewable energy sources was drawn up, while in India models for collaboration between a wide range of partners from the private and philanthropic sectors on novel entrepreneurial concepts for fighting poverty have been developed. A particular support to this endeavour were two specialists, taking a career break. They assisted the elea Foundation and its project partners in an honorary capacity with their professional outside expertise and time over several months both on site and in Switzerland. Their successful assignment which elea conducted as a pilot project indicates in a very positive manner the big potential such a model offers and which the foundation will now develop further.

The elea Philanthropic Investors' Circle made encouraging progress, too. The involvement of entrepreneurial personalities, foundations and companies is central to the future of the elea Foundation. The Circle's first event at the end of May addressed successfully the high interest in a focused exchange within the still small but growing community. The launch of a long-term collaboration with Accenture Switzerland AG, the first Corporate Philanthropic Investor of the elea Foundation, was an important step in exploiting the big potential lying in the combination of the financial and knowledge contribution of companies. Accenture invests in elea's portfolio and additionally provides specialized teams for some of the portfolio's projects. Andreas Kirchschläger, CEO of the foundation, emphasizes: "Such partnerships with companies open up new prospects for all those involved and could serve as examples for other businesses that, as organizations and through joint action involving selected employees, wish to deploy their expertise to professionally fight poverty using entrepreneurial resources."

Besides the highlights the elea-team had to cope with a few specific challenges and sobering experiences in which the high expectations were disappointed. It is very encouraging that also such difficult and complex situations could be handled successfully, and problematic cases were duly identified - also thanks to the professional and systematic approach. It became evident that partnership relations based on respect, trust and transparency, also in the business world crucial to success, are even more vital in the field of entrepreneurial philanthropy. A partnership on equal terms is a challenging concept which makes high demands on all parties involved.

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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