Accomplished academic and social entrepreneurship expert Professor Vanina Farber has been selected to be the first holder of the elea Chair for Social Innovation at IMD. The founding family of the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization has provided a special donation to IMD of CHF 3 million to create the Chair, which will focus on teaching, research and outreach to advance the field of Social Innovation, with a special emphasis on entrepreneurial poverty alleviation.

Challenges to capitalism have never been greater. Businesses can no longer just generate value for shareholders; in order to preserve the ecosystem which allows them to thrive, companies must increasingly provide clear benefits to society and contribute to tackling global challenges in all aspects of their operations. At the same time, investors and professionals are demanding more and more to serve a meaningful purpose as they deploy their capital and skills. Governments or civil society organizations are no longer seen as the only actors that can address social problems. Market-based solutions are gaining traction and the corporate world needs to become a key driver of these shifts.

With Vanina Farber as the first holder of the elea Chair for Social Innovation, both IMD and elea are joining forces to systematically create further knowledge in the field of social innovation and to leverage the resulting insights and learnings through publications, teaching, and outreach to the social entrepreneurship and business communities.  

Professor Farber’s career has been dedicated to creating positive social impact. Her teaching and research have largely focused on inclusive sustainable entrepreneurship. She has held faculty positions at several academic institutions including Universidad del Pacifico in Peru, IE business school in Spain and others. In addition, she works with a number of international organizations that shape the global dialogue in this field and supports multinational companies in addressing issues regarding responsibility and societal relevance.

“I am particularly interested in studying and fostering the application of innovative, practical, sustainable and inclusive market-oriented approaches that aspire to change the world by eliminating the root causes of poverty and social ills. Social innovation is inspired by bold idealism but grounded in economic and financial pragmatism. Education must be at the core of a culture of innovation driving positive economic, social and environmental change. The elea Chair will serve to pioneer research, innovative pedagogies and global collaborative networks that will strengthen the capacity of individuals and organizations to develop innovative solutions, bringing positive social and environmental change to the world,” said Professor Vanina Farber.

According to Peter Wuffli, Founder of elea and Chairman of the Board of IMD: “Globalization is under threat with increasing political instability, violence and inequality around the world. The elea Chair seeks to address these issues and contribute to a peaceful continuation of globalization, which has lifted millions out of abject poverty. Being located at IMD, where over 8000 influential business leaders from over 98 countries meet every year, will help increase the impact and outreach of the Chair by educating executives about social innovation and fostering inclusive and responsible leadership. With our experience of over 10 years of active philanthropic impact investing, we believe that now is the time for deeper academic research in the field of social innovation.”

Jean-François Manzoni, President of IMD, said: “IMD is delighted and privileged to host the elea Chair for Social Innovation. This Chair is created at a time that feels very much like a crossroads, where we need to think about new forms of capitalism with well understood and articulated, positive social impact. On the research side, IMD is committed to contributing to a better understanding of social innovation, its impact and how it can be supported and expanded. The Chair will be of great help on this front. IMD also has a role to play in the development of thoughtful and ethical leaders, and we are committed to broadening the horizons of the executives who come to IMD by helping them understand that they can do well by doing good. We are deeply grateful to the elea Foundation for their confidence and their support.”

The mission of the elea Foundation is to fight absolute poverty through entrepreneurship, capitalizing on the benefits and opportunities of globalization. As an active philanthropic investment manager, the elea Foundation creates measurable, lasting impact through investments in local entrepreneurs who are committed to creating business opportunities that benefit their communities. It strives to be the partner of choice for social entrepreneurs and philanthropic investors, and to provide an attractive platform for ambitious, talented professionals. The foundation is a recognized pioneer in the field of impact investing and was one of the earliest to use investment models to fight poverty.

For more information about the elea Foundation, please visit www.elea-foundation.org