Creation of VIVA Trust

VIVA Trust Video 2013

Our story begins with our founder, successful Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist Stephan Schmidheiny.

Stephan was brought up in a family with a strong tradition of sharing their wealth with those in need. In 1984 he founded his first nonprofit organization, Fundes, to promote more competitive and sustainable small enterprises in Latin America and contribute to job creation and the development of the region.

One of his strong beliefs was that economic development did not have to be at odds with the conservation of nature, and in 1994 he established Avina Foundation to strengthen the initiatives of social and business leaders seeking to create more sustainable forms of development in Latin America.

Meanwhile, his companies in the region, under the GrupoNueva corporate umbrella, had already become noted leaders in terms of their responsibility towards the community and the environment, with special expertise in water management and the development of a sustainable forestry industry.

In 2003, Stephan started a new experiment. To ensure the long-term sustainability of Avina and Fundes and the continuation of his philanthropic activities in Latin America beyond his own life, Stephan donated all of his shares in GrupoNueva to the newly created VIVA Trust.

VIVA Trust would be run by a specially appointed Executive Committee made up of business and social professionals from around the world, and would oversee and guide the group's business and philanthropic operations in Latin America. VIVA Trust would fund the growth of the business and Avina's and Fundes' operations with its capital gains and dividends from GrupoNueva. Instead of being connected by a founder and shareholder, Avina, Fundes and GrupoNueva would now be connected by an innovative organization that combines productive and philanthropic activities in a single strategy.

Since 2003, VIVA Trust has worked towards the prosperity and sustainability of Latin America. VIVA Trust is a new model for business and philanthropy, an experiment which seeks to foster the development of the region by forging an alliance between businesses that are financially, socially, and environmentally successful, and philanthropic organizations promoting leadership, innovation, and the integration of more competitive and sustainable small enterprises.

For VIVA Trust's 10th anniversary, VIVA Idea was created with the purpose of documenting and managing the knowledge of this ecosystem of organizations, using it to inspire and empower a new generation of leaders and social entrepreneurs committed to the sustainability of Latin America.