One of Switzerland’s leading foundations, the Jacobs Foundation has forged a reputation for its research-based and system-wide approach to the problems it decides to take on. Its chairperson Lavinia Jacobs talks to Charles Keidan about the foundation’s genesis and the wellsprings of her own approach to philanthropy.
How has your personal family background and business shaped your philanthropy?
You’re probably already aware that my father [Klaus] was a significant entrepreneur. In the 1990s, he founded Adecco, an HR solutions provider, and Barry Callebaut, a manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products. Both companies are now leaders in their respective global markets and I think this continued drive to go forward is something that served him both personally and in business, and most importantly is why he created the Jacobs Foundation in 1989. He was extremely socially committed from a very early age. He strongly believed that each person should have equal opportunities regardless of any social or financial background and that’s how I still try to run the Jacobs Foundation. And I think his continued ambition to make the world a better place is something that has affected me and my approach very clearly.
When did you become more actively involved?