Spring 2009

Dear Subscriber,

For the past six years we have focused efforts on tackling two key challenges that have arguably been overlooked in the past:

- Reducing Indoor Air Pollution - the toxic smoke from cooking on fires and traditional stoves in the developing world that causes the premature death of 1.5 million people each year - through both the market-based sale of improved cookstoves and public health campaigns.

- Promoting Growth Finance - the rapidly growing asset class that provides both the skills and finance required by small and growing busineses in emerging economies whose needs are not met by either microfinance or other commercial investors.

Recent months have seen growing interest in these areas, with the 'New York Times', 'Financial Times' and 'The Economist' featuring them - as highlighted in this newsletter. This recognition is very encouraging. We believe that our long and close partnerships with both Envirofit and GroFin have enabled us to be at the forefront of pioneering financially-viable responses to these challenges - thus enabling a focus not just on the nature of these problems but the fact that sustainable and scaleable solutions now exist.

I would also urge you to check out our new ‘Business Principles’, which are part of a broader initiative by the Foundation to promote best practice among corporate foundations as well as explain our hugely value-adding ‘independent yet linked’ relationship to Shell.

Finally, in these difficult economic times, I wish you every success with your own initiatives and endeavours.

Best Regards

Chris West Director,
Shell Foundation

Improved Stoves rising up the agenda

Indoor Air Pollution (IAP) - the toxic smoke from cooking on fires and traditional stoves in the developing world - causes the premature death of 1.5 million people each year yet attempts to tackle it have historically suffered from its extremely low profile when compared to Malaria, HIV/AIDS and other major killers.

That, however, is rapidly changing due to two factors:

1) IAP is increasingly being seen as a major contributor to so-called 'black carbon' (think of soot up a chimney), which is itself being seen as a major climate change contributor.

2) In the last 2-3 years several commercially-orientated providers of so-called improved stoves - ones that emit less fumes and use less fuel - have entered the market, including: Bosch and Siemens, Philips and Foundation partner Envirofit. Improved stoves sold at scale represent a potentially self-financing way to tackle IAP.

Together, these factors arguably represent the beginning of a paradigm shift in tackling IAP, one that the Foundation, with its long-standing commitment to finding a solution, plans to be at the forefront of. The 'New York Times' and 'The Economist' have both recently written about these changes.

To read 'The Economist' article click here.

New coalition of foundations comes together to tackle Growth Finance

At an event in March hosted by Shell Foundation a group of major philanthropic foundations launched a new economic development initiative designed to increase investment in the Growth Finance sector: small and growing businesses in the developing world.

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) comprises 35 organisations, which include for-profit and non-profit social venture funds, business assistance providers and philanthropic foundations active in the developing world. Financial backers include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Lemelson Foundation, Omidyar Network, The Rockefeller Foundation and Shell Foundation.

The launch was covered by 'The (London) Times' (click here).

EMBARQ goes Intercontinental

Istanbul has launched the world’s only Intercontinental Bus Rapid Transit System, similar to the innovative bus system pioneered by Foundation-backed EMBARQ in Mexico City. The new 11-kilometer Metrobus line carrying commuters between Europe and Asia began operations on 3 March with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included top city officials and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "The presence of the prime minister underscores the importance placed on Metrobus as a solution to the urban transport problem in Istanbul," says Sibel Bulay, director of EMBARQ’s Center for Sustainable Transport in Turkey (SUM-Turkiye), which helped to catalyse the project.

With the completion of this stage of the project, the Metrobus corridor now measures 41 kilometers, includes 31 stops and cost $360 million. The addition of the intercontinental corridor is expected to increase total ridership to 800,000 passengers per day.

To see a short film showing a drivers-eye view of the Istanbul BRT click here.

Shell Foundation Business Principles

The Foundation has published a set of Business Principles, which govern how it conducts its business. To read the SFBPs click here. Apart from being good practice, the Principles are part of a broader initiative by the Foundation to better explain its ‘independent yet linked’ relationship to Shell, the company. The Foundation has put in place a detailed assurance system to make sure it leverages as much as possible from the company towards its charitable objectives without compromising its charitable status.

The Financial Times highlights Growth Finance

Foundation Director Chris West appeared alongside former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and others in the first edition of the 'Financial Times’' new monthly magazine 'This is Africa'.

Chris wrote a full-page comment piece on the challenges faced by the so-called ‘Missing Middle’ - developing world entrepreneurs whose businesses are too large to qualify for microfinance but too small for risk-averse banks to consider investing in. He talks about Growth Finance, the new, rapidly growing asset class that is trying to plug the missing middle.

To read the article please click here.

 
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