Richard F. Chandler established the Chandler Foundation in 2013. It marked the culmination of nearly two decades of working in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship – as well as a new chapter in a generational story that began more than a century ago.
My grandfathers’ diverging fortunes were not caused by a difference in work ethic nor ability, but one of opportunity. My paternal grandfather, Edward F. Chandler, moved to New Zealand in 1903 and built an innovative advertising business that flourished and grew until he passed away. On the other side of the world, my maternal grandfather, Anton Guina, grew grapes in Trogir, Croatia. He became a self-taught winemaker known for producing high-quality Riesling – until most of his lands were confiscated by his own government, crushing both his business and his dreams. It is, sadly, a story still being relived today across countless countries and countless lives – where talent is more widespread than opportunity.
My grandfathers’ diverging fortunes were not caused by a difference in work ethic nor ability, but one of opportunity.
I had the fortune of being raised in New Zealand. My mother, having grown up in the aftermath of World War II in the part of Yugoslavia that is now Croatia, emigrated to New Zealand where she started a life with my father. My father was a beekeeper and real estate entrepreneur who recognized my mother’s passion for retailing, and together they took a risk and acquired a fledgling retail business. With hard work, dedication, and my mother’s eye for beauty, the business flourished, enabling my parents to provide for the well-being of their family – and also serve their customers, employees and community.
New Zealand consistently ranks near the top of global prosperity indices, having overcome its remote location to build a healthy, vibrant nation. Since 2006, my company, the Clermont Group, has been based in Singapore – a country that vaulted from developing-world status to developed country in a single generation. Today, Singapore consistently scores near the top of national prosperity rankings on several measures. Neither New Zealand nor Singapore were endowed with large populations nor natural resources, and yet they stand as testimonies for how prosperity can be built and broadened.
While New Zealand and Singapore exemplify what is possible, poverty, disease and conflict remain prevalent for much of the world. Many nations lurch between seasons of relative prosperity followed by seasons of economic recession and hardship. For many individuals, social mobility and vocational opportunities are out of reach. The roadblocks to their creative liberty, respect, and dignity are often found in weak governance, corruption, and broken social and economic systems.
At the Chandler Foundation, we are focused on building the foundations for a growing and broadening prosperity in low- and middle-income countries. We accomplish this in two ways: First, by making philanthropic grants to organizations helping to build the enabling conditions for shared prosperity. And second, by participating in a movement to make global development philanthropy and philanthropy’s program partners more effective.
Our approach to building and broadening prosperity is based on a holistic approach that integrates both top-down and bottom-up strategies. We focus on promoting and helping to build the enabling conditions in which prosperity can grow and broaden. This means supporting good governance, smart policies, and marketplace systems and structures, alongside broadening the reach of basic healthcare, education, and economic opportunity – so that all can unleash their creative and entrepreneurial potential in a way that only one of my grandfathers was fully able; so that every person has the chance to contribute toward, and share in, greater prosperity.
It also means partnering with other like-minded donors as well as bringing together governments, businesses, communities, and social-purpose organizations. That is why we joined with partners such as Bill & Melinda Gates, Jeff Skoll, and the Rockefeller Foundation to launch Co-Impact, a global model for collaborative philanthropy at scale. Since the launch, Nandan and Rohini Nilekani, ELMA Philanthropies, and MacKenzie Scott have joined us as core partners.
The Chandler Foundation’s approach today continues to be informed and inspired by the twenty-plus years we’ve spent working to build and broaden prosperity. We began by creating metrics and methodologies to answer the question, “Where would the incremental dollar of philanthropic giving make the greatest difference?” We later invested in social enterprises and went on to build and operate low-cost healthcare and education businesses in eight countries. Time and again, we have seen that lasting solutions to the world’s major social challenges require holistic, multi-level approaches.
We hope that by partnering with others, sharing lessons and practices, and supporting world-class social-purpose organizations, together we can help build healthy communities, vibrant marketplaces, and strong nations.