Shell Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: The Shell Foundation links its giving efforts to the energy sector, as its business is energy; however, Shell gives widely to helping people living on less than $2.50 per day.

IP TAKE: The Shell Foundation uses a social impact investment model rather than strictly traditional methods of operation in its grantmaking.

PROFILE: Established by the Shell Group in 2000, the UK-based Shell Foundation seeks to create and scale "new solutions to global development challenges" by applying "business thinking to major social and environmental issues linked to the energy sector." It also intends to "leverage the skills and networks of others where possible to deliver greater development impact."

The Shell Foundation is an independent UK registered charity. Though it maintains a “linked relationship” with the Shell Corporation it has a mixed board of trustees, maintains a separate endowment, and employs its own set of business principles.

Throughout its grantmaking process, the foundation works with a handful of partners in order to "identify the market failures that underpin many of the world’s problems and co-creates new social enterprises to solve them." The foundation provides grantees with patient grant funding, extensive business support and access to networks. Once Shell considers a grantseeker's solution to an issue viable, meaning actionable and realistic, it creates "specialist intermediaries to facilitate growth and replication at an industry level." 

Shell has four programmatic foci: Access to Energy, Sustainable mobility, Sustainable Job Creation, and Incubator. It works across these programs to address some of the world's largest development challenges by centering its efforts on "major obstacles to inclusive growth." Shell's teams work to identify underlying market failures to these challenges, and then forms long-term partnerships with a "small number of entrepreneurs to co-create new disruptive solutions."

Overall, Shell's approach works to create "social enterprises with ground-breaking technologies and services that deliver social, environmental and economic value to low-income consumers at a price they can afford" through enterprise-based solutions that employ an enterprise-based model. 

At present, the foundation's geographical focus is Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

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