elea continues improving its operations to become the partner of choice for entrepreneurs, philanthropic investors, and talented people.

31 December 2018

While traditional values of open, democratic societies are being challenged and politics are being shaped by exclusion and discrimination, elea – in its twelvth year of existence – is inspired by its daily interaction with visionary social entrepreneurs and creative, responsible individuals who commit themselves to improving the lives of those around them and who radiate optimism for the future.

“As we review 2018, we realize how important it is to stand up for globalization as a force for good, and as an opportunity rather than a threat”, explains Peter Wuffli, Founder of elea and Chairman of its Board of Trustees, and adds: “We refined our thinking and processes based on what we have learned over the past 12 years, included new colleagues in the elea team, and worked intensively with our partners in the field.”

Andreas Kirchschläger, CEO of elea, is convinced: “The expertise, time, and energy we invest in our enterprises is often a critical factor for their impact, growth, and success.” Besides its daily mentoring activities, in 2018, the elea Team conducted extensive impact value creation efforts with Amazi in South Africa, BagoSphere in the Philippines, Dharma Life in India, and Digital Divide Data in Kenya. elea helped its partners overcome challenges they were facing and assisted them in developing specific strategies, processes, and structures to scale and realize their potential. This year elea also saw some of its maturing investees receive international recognition for their work. Four of its elea entrepreneurs, whom elea invested in between 2013 and 2017, won well-known industry prizes: Lesley Marincola of Angaza won the treasured Skoll Award (one of the most prestigious awards in the social enterprise space), Zhihan Lee of BagoSphere received a lifetime Ashoka Fellowship (an award established in 1980 as the first recognition for social entrepreneurs), Gaurav Mehta of Dharma Life became a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, and awamo won the Fintech Germany Award. “We have coached, counseled, and supported these companies for the past several years and it is very satisfying to see our investees become viable social businesses that are recognized for their work.”

Furthermore, elea continued to expand its portfolio with exciting new social enterprises. elea invested in Essmart, a last-mile distribution company in India that grants the rural poor access to essential products. It also started a joint venture with FUNDES to create Fundes Digital, a digital platform for mom-and-pop shops in Latin America to share tools and best practices for more social impact, better productivity, and higher profits. Additionally, elea increased its engagement with BagoSphere, Dharma Life, and Coffee Circle to accelerate their expansion. At the same time, the elea team is constantly pursuing new investment opportunities. Stefan Kappeler, COO of elea, points out: “We completed scouting tours and due diligence trips to Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua, Ghana, India, the Philippines, and Indonesia, resulting in having over 50 new projects in our pipeline and seven social enterprises undergoing due diligence.”

While elea has had a successful year overall, there have also been some challenges. elea decided not to extend its partnership with Jazza Centre, a domestic worker training program in Kenya because of significant leadership issues and unsatisfactory future development potential. elea did not invest in two companies after extensive due diligence uncovered serious questions to their business models that were not satisfactorily answered. Adrian Ackeret, CFO of elea, underlines: “While often painful, these difficult decisions are necessary to ensure that we achieve significant social return for the capital we invest.”

elea could not be what it is today without its dedicated team members. In 2018, Myrtha Bohni, elea’s valued Chief Administration Officer, retired. She will be greatly missed by the entire team and elea thanks her for her commitment and enormous contribution to elea since its founding. Sadly, Anne Decker also left the team when she returned home to Germany. elea is very grateful for the enriching collaboration and wishes her all the best in her next career step in management consulting. At the same time, elea strengthened its team by hiring new colleagues (on a full- and part-time basis) from diverse backgrounds including banking, consulting, and social entrepreneurship. Amanda Ege joined elea as a Senior Associate; Lisa Jean-Mairet, Tina Ruchti, and Gerald Weigl started as Associates; Candice Hitzeroth and Marietta Füllemann are supporting elea in administration; Julia Bronnikowa was completing an internship until the end of December; and Melody Chua is assisting elea in IT. elea warmly welcomes them into the elea family.

In the current global situation, elea is even more committed to its mission of fighting absolute poverty with entrepreneurial means. Andreas Kirchschläger adds: “We are incredibly grateful to all of our partners who contribute financially to our daily work as a philanthropic impact investor. It strongly motivates us to see that our elea Philanthropic Investors’ Circle continues to grow with new members joining us each year. Additionally, several of our investors have extended their partnerships, including one of our corporate partners, Accenture, who invested in us for the third time. Thank you all for your trust and valuable support!”

Finally, elea is very thankful for the generous, long-term contributions of the new members of our Comité de Patronage, Martin Haefner and Paul Geissbühler. “These two distinguished individuals share our optimism for the future and believe that elea is making a difference in the fight against absolute poverty. They invested in elea as an organization, thus enabling us to grow stronger and realize our potential in the field of philanthropic impact investing”, concludes Peter Wuffli.

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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