elea celebrates its ten-year anniversary and looks ahead to the next stage in the fight against poverty with entrepreneurial means

31 December 2016

Based on the conviction that globalization offers new opportunities to fight absolute poverty with entrepreneurial means, Susanne and Peter Wuffli founded the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization in 2006. On the occasion of its 10-year anniversary, the foundation reflects on successes as well as lessons learned and provides an ambitious outlook on the way forward.

Since its inception ten years ago, elea has been advocating a globalization that is inclusive and promotes integration, cohesion, and trust between the economy and society, as well as across geographical and sectoral boundaries to the benefit of all. Andreas Kirchschläger, elea’s Chief Executive Officer, explains: “Our goal has always been to provide access to the global value creation process for people with low incomes and thus to sustainably improve their livelihoods.”

Ten eventful years later, and with nearly 30 social investments in various countries and 200’000 elea Impact Points realized, elea reports that its efforts have translated into continuously increasing – and in many ways already sustainable – impact. “Our entire team is highly motivated to assist our project partners with our know-how, network and capital. Each and every life story we become familiar with touches us and fuels our passion further to find new promising initiatives for us to invest in”, says Andreas Kirchschläger.

The foundation was particularly pleased with two highlights in this regard over the past year. First, it invested in B’Ayoba, a food producer in Zimbabwe that has introduced additional sources of income to smallholder farmers with an average yearly cash income of USD 100. Secondly, elea entered into a partnership with a company called Jazza Centre in Kenya, which offers young people with no professional education the opportunity to acquire vocational skills and secure jobs as domestic workers for the growing Kenyan middle class. There are also some promising new investment opportunities in elea’s pipeline as a result of scouting tours that were conducted in West and South Africa as well as South-east Asia.

Asked about the decisive factors that have contributed to the positive results of the past years, Peter Wuffli, elea founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, replies: “Critical in this regard were our focus on partnering with engaged and talented entrepreneurs, the development of a capable and effective team as well as professional processes and a viable platform within elea.” At the same time, elea sees itself as a learning organization. There were indeed several situations from which the foundation was able to and had to learn a lot over the last ten years. Peter Wuffli remarks: “Perhaps the most important and continuously reaffirmed finding is the central role the social entrepreneurs are playing: Their personalities, motivation, skills, and tenacity are essential for the success of their entrepreneurial projects. They thereby also contribute to the development of a sustainable economy and a liberal society in their respective countries.” For this reason, elea invests a particularly high amount of energy and work in finding potential project partners and performing due diligence on them in order to lay a solid foundation for a five-to-seven year cooperation that is based on respect, trust, and mutual support.

In October, elea took its 10-year anniversary as an occasion to – for the first time in its history – invite a larger group of these entrepreneurial personalities, with whom the foundation works closely, to Switzerland. Andreas Kirchschläger remembers: “For the elea team, it was as enjoyable as it was impressive having the chance to exchange experiences with our entrepreneurs from such diverse countries as Germany, Costa Rica, India, Kenya, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, and the United States through a series of workshops in which we were able to develop solutions to problems common to our partners.”

elea is very grateful to its investors, partners, and friends. They provide a crucial contribution to the development of the foundation and thus to the creation of a sustainable, positive impact on the living conditions of poor people. Peter Wuffli underlines: “We consider ourselves privileged to have over 20 investors in our 'elea Philanthropic Investors’ Circle' today, and we treasure the trust that they are placing in us. elea cannot be envisaged without them.” With the newly developed investment idea 'elea PULSE', elea now also offers a portfolio of selected entrepreneurial elea projects particularly designed for foundations and family offices.

Even though elea has already come a long way over the last ten years, the foundation is conscious that it only scratched the surface. Looking ahead to the next decade, Andreas Kirchschläger notes: “Our goal is to further strengthen our cooperation with and within this growing community of 'elea entrepreneurs'. That way, we seek to jointly unlock the true potential of their ideas, technologies, and products with regard to scaling, transfer, and global distribution. For elea, this also implies that we will further refine our focus areas and work towards replicating successful projects that are based on results-oriented methods and have had substantial impact on a global scale. We will also search for ways to put our innovative approach to fighting poverty on the international development agenda.” Interested parties are invited to follow the realization of this ambitious endeavor on the newly launched website at www.elea-foundation.org.

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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