elea looks back on another great year and adds a complementary knowledge base to its organization

22 December 2017

In its eleventh year of existence, the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization realized many successes, not only regarding its partnerships with social enterprises and the development of its organization, but also regarding the very important trust that its philanthropic investors placed in the foundation.

Already in the first half of the year, elea was able to further expand its portfolio with three new attractive investments: The start-up company awamo provides unregulated financial institutions in Uganda with a digital solution, via an innovative FinTech software, for simplifying the credit approval process, thereby stimulating entrepreneurial activities in a poverty-stricken region. Another social enterprise, Copia, is active in the realm of informal retail and last-mile distribution. It is making smart use of mobile tech­no­logy platforms to build up a quickly growing distribution network in Kenya, in order to offer people in remote regions access to innovative products that make daily life easier. Digital Divide Data, which is also located in Kenya, enables disadvantaged adolescents to take part in the global trend toward digitalization through targeted employable skill building within the field of information technology. With these invest­ments, as with all others, elea aims to create substantial added value in terms of impact by actively contri­buting its experience in the respective fields of activity and by providing professional support.

“Among our existing partnerships, we would especially like to highlight the one with Angaza Design, which shows just how far a joint journey with elea can lead”, explains Stefan Kappeler, Project Leader at elea, and adds: “Since our investment in 2013, Angaza Design has grown into a well-established enterprise that was able to receive new growth capital from both commer­cial and impact investors in October of this year. And thanks to its Pay-As-You-Go technology, more than two hundred thousand people with low income now have access to solar devices”.

The path to success is never easy for elea's entrepreneurs who must repeatedly confront tough challenges. Unfortunately, political develop­ments that often have considerable negative effects on their daily busi­ness, such as those in Kenya or Zimbabwe in the past months, are difficult to influence. Adrian Ackeret, Project Leader at elea, points out: “However, when it comes to entre­preneurial problems, elea can and wants to get actively involved: this year, we helped B’Ayoba with diffi­cult restructuring measures, developed a new strategy with BagoSphere, and provided support to Dharma Life to overcome a liquidity shortage”.

Furthermore, elea has added a complementary knowledge base with the appointment of Professor Vanina Farber to the elea Chair for Social Innovation and to the Center for Social Innovation at the IMD Business School in Lausanne, for which Peter and Susanne Wuffli committed funding in 2015. Peter Wuffli, Founder of elea and Chairman of its Board of Trustees, is convinced: “Professor Farber will be doing research on and teaching about the impact of entrepreneurial activities and market economy mechanisms on finding solutions to social problems, and will thereby make a fun­da­mental contribution to elea’s work in the fight against absolute poverty”.

elea is extremely grateful to the members of its Philanthropic Investors’ Circle for their high level of confidence in elea’s work and underlying principles as well as for their valuable financial support and encour­agement. “The gratifying growth and continuity elea enjoys with regard to its philanthropic investors are both important prerequisites for the successful implementation of entrepreneurial models for poverty alleviation as well as for the ongoing development of our organization”, says Andreas Kirchschläger, CEO of elea.

With regard to the team, elea has positive news to report. Aleksandar Buneta, who has been working part-time as the Head of IT for elea for several years, has now assumed the additional role of Associate and is thereby strengthening the project team. Furthermore, over the past year, elea was able to hire five very qualified and highly motivated professionals to work on short-term project assignments in Switzerland and, in some cases, directly with elea’s project partners on-site. elea would also like to wel­come Jutta Schläpfer-Elsässer, who took over the role of Assistant to the CEO in November of this year. Jutta has already worked very closely with Andreas Kirchschläger during their time at the St. Gallen Symposium. In addition to Myrta Meichtry’s departure in October, Janik Porzelt will be leaving elea at the end of this year to pursue a new career opportunity. elea would like to thank both Myrta and Janik for their high level of commitment and valuable support and wish them all the best in their new endeavors.

At a time in which debates are increasingly led by populist statements and ideas of national isolation are welcomed, emphasis is often on the negative consequences of globalization. “By contrast, we prefer to focus on the realization of opportunities that arise from an ethically oriented globalization”, remarks Andreas Kirchschläger. For a deeper insight into elea’s investment philosophy, elea refers to the book contribution “Conscious and Ethical Investing” published this fall. As the year draws to a close, Andreas Kirchschläger points out: “As a philanthropic impact investor, we see it as our responsibility and role to stand by selected social enterprises by providing them with risk capital and strategic assistance for the estab­lishment of robust solutions and by preparing them for the next growth phase. We are pleased with the impact our work has achieved over the past year, all the while being conscious of the fact that we are still only in the early phase of a long and challenging journey”.

elea fights absolute poverty with entrepreneurial means. As a professional and active philanthropic investor, it supports social enterprises and entrepreneurial organizations in creating sustainable and measurable impact. Guiding its partners towards achieving self-reliance and autonomy, the foundation not only invests financial capital but also provides them with business know-how, coaching and access to its network. As such, elea is a growing community of committed entrepreneurs and philanthropic investors.

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