elea Foundation celebrates its fifth anniversary

31 December 2013

It has been five years since the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization took up its operations. It is with pleasure that the foundation looks back on this exciting period in which more than a dozen entrepreneurial investments to fight poverty in developing countries were made, 88'000 elea Impact Points achieved, new partnerships built and organizational structures further refined.

In the first five years of operational activity, the elea Foundation was able to achieve project results that add up to some 88'000 impact points. In the past year alone, team members travelled to countries such as Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Burkina Faso, Kenya, South Africa, India and Thailand to identify and develop, in close cooperation with the foundation's partners on the ground, ideas and projects to fight poverty. The foundation also made two new investments which it expects to have a long-term social impact. One of them is Coffee Circle, a company that markets high-quality coffee from Ethiopia via the Internet using an innovative concept to access new target groups and, in so doing, is bringing about lasting improvements in the living conditions of coffee farmers. The second investment is Angaza Design, which operates a "pay-as-you-go" system in East Africa via mobile phones to make the purchase of technical products such as solar lamps affordable for the poorest community groups.

Through its practical experience over the past years, the elea Foundation saw its thematic focus on new technologies, professional skill building and global value chains confirmed and will, therefore, continue to concentrate its operations on these core areas: new technologies, especially those related to mobile telephony, offer considerable potential for fighting poverty on a large scale basis. Providing young people and adults with relevant practical professional skills to increase their chances for a higher and more secure income is an extremely important but also challenging field of activity. The Foundation views the rising demand from Western consumers for ethically produced products as an opportunity to access global markets and thus foster development, especially in poor rural regions.

While the elea Foundation's work is characterized by many highlights, there are also some sobering moments: the implementation of projects generally takes longer than expected and often proves more complex than initially assumed. Arising problems are frequently impossible to foresee and related to factors beyond the foundation's control. However, Peter Wuffli, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, is confident: "We view such experiences not only as a challenge but also as an encouragement to continue learning while at the same time maintaining realistic expectations. They also make every achievement even more valuable: each successful step in the battle against poverty is extraordinarily motivating, and gives us the courage we need to move on to the next."

Above and beyond the management of projects, the elea Foundation continued its efforts to raise its profile in the entrepreneurial philanthropy sector. In addition to delivering a series of speeches and strengthening its dialogue with the philanthropic community, investment networks, companies and academic audiences, the foundation further refined its systematic, externally audited impact measurement methodology and published it on various platforms.

The past year also brought about some changes at the organizational level. With Nicole Adler and Adrian Ackeret joining the elea team, the foundation has grown to a total of seven professionals, and, with a view to accommodating its growth needs and plans, the foundation moved offices. The interest of philanthropic investors in elea's work and its elea Philanthropic Investment Management has allowed the foundation, for the first time since elea's establishment, to maintain a stable level of organizational capital while at the same time increasing its investment activity. Andreas Kirchschläger, CEO of the elea Foundation, expresses his satisfaction: "We view this very positive and encouraging fact as an indication that our model of an impact-oriented institution dedicated to entrepreneurial philanthropy seems to work, and that the elea Foundation is moving closer to its goal of not only investing in economically sustainable projects but also becoming a sustainable organization itself."

elea Foundation aims at achieving sustainable, positive and tangible impact which directly benefits people challenged by the globalization process. It targets the poor at the base of the pyramid through entrepreneurial philanthropic projects, aligning ideas and capital.

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