The UBS Optimus Foundation was founded December 17, 1999 by UBS with the aim that the bank would participate in charitable activities with its clients.
Children are at the center of all aid projects, a direction that was cemented in the first three years of operation. The Foundation ultimately decided that the areas of "Education & Protection" and "Health" would receive most attention. Its work is not only focused on the "Millennium Development Goals", but also aims to provide long-term assistance to deal with other neglected subjects that previously received few pledges of money.
In 2003, the Foundation Board decided to focus on the area of "Protection from Violence & Sexual Abuse" with the aim of funding related projects, breaking the taboo on the subject and strengthening protection of children against sexual abuse.
The Stop Buruli Initiative saw the light in summer 2007. It marked the first time that the Foundation became active in determining a neglected theme and in convening an internationally organized consortium of experts to research the insidious Buruli ulcer disease.
The Regional Office Southern Africa was founded in February 2008. The team provides on-the-ground and efficient support and control of the local partner organizations and projects in the focal region of Southern Africa.
In the spring of 2008 the Foundation was evaluated by an external non-profit consultancy - FSG – Social Impact Advisors. The key question was how to achieve the maximum humanitarian impact from the donations, in the light of what had been achieved so far. The study recommended defining the focus of projects even clearer and more specifically. In addition, successful project approaches should be replicated in other regions and countries.
In summer 2008 the Foundation initiated the Optimus Study Initiative. It brings together experts from Switzerland and China with the aim of generating more data from both countries on the frequency and types of child sexual abuse.
In March 2009 the Foundation Board approved a new strategic focus. From then on, it has focused on innovative projects that pursue completely new and unconventional approaches in solving problems. The new strategy is based on the value chain model in which the projects are developed as core ideas after the innovation phase, and then replicates the successful approaches as programs. At the end of the value chain are the initiatives for international research consortia to tackle neglected subjects.
The school project for girls and young women in Zambia that we have supported for several years was replicated from 2009 as a program in Malawi. Like the first project, this program is being handled by our experienced partner organization CAMFED. In replicating the school model in Malawi, the aspect of child protection also plays an important role.
Under the motto "Give community a voice", the UBS Optimus Foundation brought together around 150 representatives of charitable organizations and grantmaking foundations from over 50 countries. The symposium marked the ten years jubilee of the foundation an took place at the Wolfsberg conference center in Novemeber 2010.
Contributions from over 10,500 donors have enabled us to provide more than 100 million Swiss francs in support to 230 projects in 65 countries over the last 10 years.