When the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations (EDRF) started the ERFIP (EmpoweR Families for Innovative Philanthropy) initiative in 2013, the intent was to engage with families active in both business and giving from the Global South. What has emerged is a unique platform for private philanthropists from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. ERFIP is largely the brainchild of EDRF CEO Firoz Ladak, who told Caroline Hartnell: ‘We have found that the comfortable and professional environment we created has sparked an exciting discussion among peers facing similar challenges and opportunities.’
‘ERFIP also wants to disengage philanthropy from its silo. True, philanthropy is a distinct sector, but families play an important role in development through a combination of their businesses and charitable activities. This intersection is an incredibly powerful opportunity to build synergies, and to develop hybrid solutions and scale,’ says Ladak.
Firoz Ladak. Photo by François du Chatenet.
Although most of the ERFIP families have been engaged in giving for a long time, they aren’t necessarily found on the conference circuits. This, and the fact that many avoid the limelight, means that reaching them has required extensive scouting through existing relationships, in-depth research and one-to-one conversations. ERFIP seeks to engage families whose voice remains discreet and to harness their experience around local giving. It also includes a diaspora component, Ladak emphasizes, ‘so it’s not only people who live in Kenya or Turkey, but also those who give back to their country of origin. Across such a vast spectrum, we find a similar passion, innovation, heart and patience’.