Businesses today are keen to contribute to benevolent organisations or local communities in many different ways. However, for the recipient charities, having the chance to really catalyse change is as welcome as a cheque.
As corporate giving increasingly becomes integral to company cultures, some firms are showing this commitment through Venture Philanthropy, a more involved way of giving. This is the chosen model of the Trafigura Foundation, but, as Foundation Director Vincent Faber explains, it isn't and shouldn't be for everyone.
1. What is Venture Philanthropy?
VF: Venture philanthropy (VP) is characterised not just by financial assistance such as funds and loans, but by substantial non-financial support. The European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) of which the Trafigura Foundation is a member, outlines venture philanthropy's seven core principles as: high engagement, tailored financing, multi-year support, non-financial support, use of networks, organisational capacity-building and performance measurement.
2. Aside from funds, how does the Trafigura Foundation help the programmes it supports?
VF: We help charitable organisations scale-up and extend their reach. The Foundation draws on Trafigura's own business management, marketing and IT expertise to offer partner NGOs insights and tools to grow and become sustainable. It's really where the humanitarian and corporate worlds converge.
“Our partners provide the vision, we help them crystallise their objectives, to become more impactful, profitable and financially independent.”
As managing risk is in Trafigura's nature, we are also prepared to support unusual or untried business ideas that other donors may shy away from.
3. To what extent are the Foundation's programmes base on VP principles?
VF: Over 90% of Trafigura Foundation's programmes incorporate the seven principles: we offer longer-term funding (three to six years), and we are highly committed. The Trafigura Foundation often sits on a charity's Board and we share fundraising, monitoring and reporting tools to help shape the framework within which activities are carried out. We're deeply involved in all of our programmes. Not all companies can or wish to offer the level of investment that is expected in venture philanthropy, hence why it isn't for everyone – it's simply another model.
4. Which Trafigura Foundation projects in particular show VP in action?
VF: We have supported Eau & Vie, who provide water delivery to slums in Bangladesh and the Philippines, since the outset. They had an innovative business model that connected local water boards with the often-overlooked population of slum dwellers, delivering water to slum households. Now we're helping them scale-up and replicate their successful venture in new slums and new countries.
Eric de Turckheim sits on the selection panel for WomenChangeMakers, a programme which selects women-lead social enterprises in Brazil and India and provides them with high-level professional advisory services (in HR, management, strategy, finance, marketing & communication) via renowned international companies. The idea here is to strengthen these women's ventures and to scale them up so they can become genuine life-changing social enterprises in their community.
For Alive and Kicking, who create and sell footballs in Zambia and Ghana, Trafigura used the geographic reach of its daughter company, Puma, to sell footballs through Puma service stations. A&K's mission is to provide footballs for children, create jobs for adults and promote health education through sport. This is a typical example where Trafigura's logistical input and sales & marketing know-how really helped boost sales through a new kind retail outlet.
5. How is Venture Philanthropy shaping the future objectives of the Foundation?
VF: The Trafigura Foundation is dedicated to helping create social impact through the work of our partners. An emerging trend in giving is that of 'impact investing', a type of financial instrument for investors to fund charitable projects. Although this tool still helps advance a social cause, the key driver is profitability.
“We remain purpose-driven and will continue to champion causes that bring about change and help create stability and improve lives around the world.”