“My forebears also instilled in me the deep conviction that wealth demands certain responsibilities. This conviction has led me to seek and implement new ways of doing philanthropic work.” “Stephan Schmidheiny, My Vision, My Path”, January 2006
Stephan Schmidheiny has been involved the philanthropic community since the beginning of his professional career in the 1980s. He inspired and created a series of non-profit organizations to encourage the development of entrepreneurs, as well as financial, social and environmentally sustainable businesses, with global reach and regional impact in Latin America. He also promoted the arts and made important contributions to education and professional training.
Several of the foundations created by Schmidheiny are established in Latin America, as a result of his interest in the region and its people. There are notable cases, such as FUNDES, Fundación AVINA, MarViva and VIVA Idea, that continued to evolve until they attained international standing. FUNDES promotes and strengthens the management of SME (small and medium-sized enterprises); Fundación Avina contributes with concrete and relevant changes for a more sustainable development in Latin America and beyond; MarViva’s objective is to protect the vast marine resources of the Tropical Eastern Pacific; and VIVA Idea articulates learning communities around sustainable development
In order to provide long-term funding for these institutions, Stephan Schmidheiny created VIVA Trust in 2003. The word VIVA is a simplified version of the expression Vision and Values, and is how the trust is known. He bequeathed the shares of the companies that form Grupo Nueva to VIVA Trust. Part of the profits and dividends that these companies generate are invested in the Latin American foundations in order to ensure their permanence and transcendence.
As part of his involvement in the arts, he created the Alexander Schmidheiny Foundation, which supports cultural, social and ecological projects and activities, and increases and promotes the Daros modern art collection in Europe and Latin America.
His contribution to education and professional training has been made through his support of and, in some cases, participation in, the professional training of top executives and business owners.