Counteracting global challenges through strategic investments in innovative entrepreneurship
31 December 2023
elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization, a philanthropic impact investor based in Zurich, looks back on a successful year: elea made notable achievements in its fight against absolute poverty by investing in four innovative impact ventures, exiting from two ventures, and engaging in a range of ecosystem activities, thus further validating elea's impact model.
While the world is struggling with multiple global crises and unimaginably brutal wars, a continued active contribution to protecting democratic values and counteracting these global disruptions is vital. “elea is convinced that investments in innovative entrepreneurial solutions are one of the most promising answers to the pressing challenges of our time,” states Andreas Kirchschläger, elea CEO. That is why elea continuously searches for ventures with innovative impact models led by visionary entrepreneurs.
Four investments in innovative impact ventures
Four investments were made in 2023: In South Africa, BluLever Education teaches practical and market-driven skills to marginalized youth so that they gain the opportunity to earn a living and establish a career as craftsmen. Elucid brings together global value chains in the food sector by facilitating access to health care for smallholder farmers in Ghana and Madagascar, linking them via digital platforms to large global corporations. Thanks to Oorja, smallholder farmers in India can optimize their income and increase their productivity based on affordable, solar-powered irrigation systems and other services. Finally, Yebo Fresh simplifies the procurement process for the owners of small shops in South African townships and directly delivers the goods to them, which saves them both time and money. Overall, fewer investments were made during the year than planned. Following detailed analyses of impact models, market opportunities, and company valuations, elea often realized that the latter were too high to justify a positive investment decision.
Exits further proof elea’s model in a challenging fundraising environment
In 2023, elea successfully exited Coffee Circle and partially Virohan. Both ventures have been able to stabilize their business models and achieve profitable growth, and have now attracted new investors for the next development phase. This provides further evidence that elea’s operating model is working effectively. Yet, the current fundraising environment has become challenging for companies that strongly depend on patient capital. elea portfolio companies for which high initial investments entail a longer loss-making period have been affected.
A multi-faceted approach to increasing elea’s impact
Systematic and positive social change requires the collaboration of many different stakeholders. elea is actively contributing to the evolution of effective impact-investing ecosystems. Hubs in Africa and Latin America encourage exchanges between impact enterprises, co-investors, and the academic world. The elea Entrepreneurs’ Community supports the personal and professional development of its almost fifty members, as well as the further development of the sectors in which they operate. To promote dialogue about impact investing, elea has intensified its contribution to events with network partners, such as the Humanitarian and Resilience Investing (HRI) Initiative of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
“Impact-oriented companies, built by entrepreneurial teams on-site, provide people living in absolute poverty with access to jobs, markets, and value chains, and thus perspectives for a self-determined future. In doing so, these companies foster societal resilience and are essential contributors to geopolitical stabilization,” outlines elea founder Peter Wuffli. Through its Vision 2030, elea wants to increase its scope of philanthropic activities and triple its impact by 2030.