For the elea Foundation a year with manifold and exciting developments draws to an end

31 December 2015

In 2015 the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization enjoyed positive growth in all four of its core activities. As a result, the “social impact” of the foundation has once again increased. 

During the last 12 months elea Foundation expanded its portfolio with new investments in highly promising social enterprises. Thanks to BagoSphere, for instance, poor adolescents from the rural regions of the Philippines are able to engage in innovative training programs that prepare them to deal with the challenges of being a call center agent. As a result, they are in a position to assume a professional activity thereafter within the rapidly growing business process outsourcing industry in their country. Dharma Life, elea’s new partner in India, is building a distribution network composed of several thousand micro-entrepreneurs that are located in poor villages and provide residents with useful products. On the other hand, after a good seven years of cooperation with Pakka AG, elea Foundation sold back its share of the company to one of the founding families and thus completed the planned investment cycle. During the time of elea’s investment, this company (which sustainably improves the living conditions of small farmers in poor regions of the world by means of its trade in organically grown, “Fairtrade” certified nuts products) has been strengthened and can now stand on its own feet. Further positive developments include the transfer of a successful job training concept to new professional groups. With Fundes elea has extended the jointly developed “Mom & Pop Shop” training programs in Bolivia to small hairdresser businesses.

Apart from all the positive experiences, the elea Foundation finds itself time and again also confronted with big challenges in the daily work with its project partners. For example, a water project in India is a cause for increasing concern, and elea needs to find and implement new solutions there very quickly. “Expanding elea’s investment pipeline with new, impactful and innovative business models for the fight against poverty is an ongoing and demanding task. For this purpose, elea team members went on ‘scouting tours’ to Ecuador, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique in order to find interesting social enterprises and to strengthen the elea network on the ground” reports Andreas Kirchschläger, CEO of the elea Foundation. Consequently, some interesting new investment ideas were discovered. Currently contributions in companies that either trade in fresh fruits or vanilla and enable small farmers an entry into local and international markets are considered. Moreover, the elea Foundation is in the process of transferring the successful “Mom & Pop Shop” training programs from La Paz, Bolivia, to Nairobi, Kenya.

There are also welcome news from the foundation’s circle of friends and investors. Some of elea’s philanthropic investors, including elea’s first philanthropic investor from the corporate world (Accenture Switzerland), have extended and expanded their partnership with elea Foundation. These commitments are not only valuable signs of trust, which are very motivating for the entire elea-team, but they also constitute an important basis for the long-term development of the foundation.

In order to give elea’s practical work a corresponding framework for reflection from an academic perspective, the elea Chair for Social Innovation was recently created at the IMD Business School in Lausanne. All of the necessary resources for this purpose are provided by elea’s founders in addition to their existing contributions. Peter Wuffli, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, states that “in accordance with the mission and goals of the elea Foundation, this new and innovative kind of professorship in Switzerland will particularly deal with the impact of entrepreneurial activities and market mechanisms in tackling social problems and thereby contribute to the identification and promotion of societal innovations”. Furthermore, elea is especially pleased about the publication of Peter Wuffli’s new book Inclusive Leadership: A Framework for the Global Era. In this, his second book, he proposes a new understanding of leadership that is based upon the experiences he has had throughout his professional career and, in particular, at elea Foundation.

With regard to the development of elea’s team, the elea Foundation succeeded in shaping the important start-up phase in great personal continuity. As of the end of this year, two team members are now the first to leave the foundation to pursue new responsibilities. Lina Regula Bee-Müller has been a part of the elea Foundation since it became operational and has significantly helped to form its structure and development for more than seven years. Sibylle Käser has equally been a valuable support for the elea-team in her assistant role. The entire team is thankful for Regula’s and Sibylle’s great commitment and important contributions to elea Foundation’s success as well as their collaborative teamwork over so many years. In June, Janik Porzelt joined and strengthened the team. elea is looking forward to Nicole Adler’s return from maternity leave and Anne Decker’s start at the beginning of 2016.

The upcoming year ahead, Andreas Kirchschläger notes: “We are looking forward to taking further steps together in 2016 to intensify our impact toward our vision to fighting absolute poverty with entrepreneurial means and to achieving increasing sustainable results”.

The 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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