About us

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is a not-for-profit, independent and neutral organization, founded in 1998, with the purpose to advance social entrepreneurship and to foster social entrepreneurs as an important catalyst for societal innovation and progress. The Foundation is under the legal supervision of the Swiss Federal Government and is headquartered in Cologny-Geneva, Switzerland.

The Foundations's main activities include:

  • Identifying and highlighting the world’s leading social entrepreneurs: Annually, the Foundation select 20-25 Social Entrepreneurs from a pool of applicants through a global “ Social Entrepreneur of the Year” competition. The  profiles of the selected social entrepreneurs can be searched and viewed online.
  • Community building: Currently, over 260 social entrepreneurs form part of the Schwab Foundation community. They come from around the world and work in a wide range of sectors, but they have many challenges and characteristics in common. The Foundation fosters the peer-to-peer exchange of the social entrepreneurs and supports the replication of their methodologies among each other.
  • Connecting social entrepreneurs: The Foundation supports the participation and active involvement of its selected social entrepreneurs at the regional and global meetings of the World Economic Forum. These meetings offer unique opportunities for social entrepreneurs to connect with corporate, political, academic, media and other leaders.
  • Generating solutions in partnership: Social entrepreneurs participate in  Forum initiatives, the conversations shaping the future agendas of industries, and are experts for the  Forum’s Global Agenda Councils. The Foundation works with selected companies to advance specific activities of social entrepreneurs or initiatives that support social entrepreneurship ( partners).
  • The next generation of social entrepreneurs: The Foundation works with the  Forum of Young Global Leaders to identify rising social entrepreneurs with a significant impact under the age of 40.
  • Additional services: The Foundation works with Harvard University, Stanford University and INSEAD to provide scholarship opportunities to the best executive education courses in the field to the selected social entrepreneurs. The Foundation works closely with leading academic institutions to publish case studies on specific social entrepreneurs for incorporation in undergraduate and graduate level courses

The Foundation does not give grants or invest financially in the organizations of its selected social entrepreneurs.


Frequently asked questions

How is the Schwab Foundation funded? 

The Schwab Foundation is financed out of an initial endowment provided by Klaus and Hilde Schwab and a combination of grants and fees for services it provides to individuals, foundations or companies seeking high-impact social investments. 


What types of support does the Schwab Foundation provide?

The Schwab Foundation does not give grants.  Rather, it invests its limited resources in creating unprecedented opportunities where social entrepreneurs who have successfully implemented and scaled their transformational idea, can further the legitimacy of their work, have access to usually inaccessible networks, and in consequence, mobilize the financial and in-kind resources that enable them to continue to strengthen and expand. 


What is the involvement of the World Economic Forum in the Schwab Foundation?

While the Schwab Foundation is a separate legal entity from the World Economic Forum with it’s own Board, the Foundation is operated by the World Economic Forum and housed at the Forum headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The Foundation works closely with the World Economic Forum to ensure that leading social entrepreneurs can best be integrated into shaping the regional, global and industry agendas through the Forum’s unique platforms. 


How does the Schwab Foundation bring social entrepreneurs and leaders from the business, public, academic and media sectors together?  

The Schwab Foundation works with a network of leading companies, foundations and universities that extend pro bono or reduced fee services to the social entrepreneurs that have been selected into the network of the Schwab Foundation. Throughout the year, and also at specific events such as the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum and the regional events, the Foundation sets up opportunities whereby specific individuals and leaders of companies and public sector organizations can come into contact with social entrepreneurs working in areas of relevance to their activities. 


How do you become part of the Schwab Foundation’s network?

If you are a social entrepreneur, apply to the social entrepreneur of the year competition.

If you are a philanthropist or a social investor, you can support Schwab social entrepreneurs through grants, low interest loans or equity investments as well as targeted in-kind goods and services. 

If you are a company, you can partner with us to support innovative social entrepreneurs by activity or geographical area. 

If you are from the media, the Schwab Foundation offers you a platform of outstanding individuals and amazing ongoing life stories. 

If you are from the academic sector, you can join the Schwab Foundation in promoting knowledge and research on social entrepreneurship.