Shell Foundation

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The Shell Foundation is an initiative of the oil major Royal Dutch Shell. Envisioned in 1997,[1] it is a worldwide, social investment initiative to concentrate on working with external partners to promote sustainable development. It is an independent registered charity[2] which has three Shell executives on its board balanced by an equal number of independent non-executive directors, in line with UK Charity Commission rules.


In 2000 Shell formalised the foundation by creating an income stream based on a notional capital set aside of $250m (£133m).


The Shell Foundation has programs across four continents covering numerous issues. These range from tackling the pollution and congestion clogging up developing world cities, to helping African entrepreneurs grow their businesses or to removing barriers that prevent developing-world producers from gaining access to world markets.[3] The Shell Foundation takes an “enterprise-based approach” to fulfilling its mission.

This approach is focused upon establishing pioneers - new partners with new ways of working - and targeting scale of impact and financial viability from the outset.[4] Envirofit, a leading US environmental non-profit organization, is one of the Foundation’s partners. In 2007, Envirofit and the Shell Foundation partnered to launch a World-wide Clean Technology Cookstoves Business to impact IAP through a market-based approach.[5]



In South Africa and Uganda, The Shell Foundation has facilitated the formation of partnerships that help small local businesses to enter the energy services market on a financially viable basis which allows them to serve the needs of the impoverished.[6] The Foundation also contributes to the UN Investment Climate Facility for Africa with $2.5 million over 5 years.[7]

South America[edit]

Another story of success is EMBARQ, a network of transport experts established by Shell Foundation and the World Resources Institute, which creates public-private collaborations between local government, transport and construction firms, investors, air-quality experts and community groups. The network's critical breakthrough came with evidence that the urban poor were willing and able to pay to use new Bus Rapid Transit systems. The first EMBARQ project took place in Mexico.[8]


On 28 September 2006, an article published in The Guardian newspaper alleged that "An attempt by Shell to portray itself as a model of corporate social responsibility was undermined last night after Whitehall documents showed its charitable arm discussing a key commercial project with a British government minister." The article entitled "Campaigners attack Shell’s charity arm over Sakhalin talks" related to The Shell Foundation. The Charity Commission subsequently conducted an inquiry and according to an article published in The Guardian on 17 October 2006, concluded that The Shell Foundation "has fallen short of the good governance and decision-making that we expect from large charities”.


  1. ^ European Venture Philanthropy Association
  2. ^ The Guardian Shell Foundation: building megacities for the poor megacities-poor
  3. ^ United Nations Foundation
  4. ^ Business fights poverty. Shell Foundation: New Solutions to Global Development at Scale?
  5. ^ Envirofit
  6. ^ Global Giving Matters. The Shell Foundation -- Bringing more than money to the table
  7. ^ Business UN .org. The Investment Climate Facility For Africa (ICF)
  8. ^ The Guardian. The Shell Foundation: building megacities for the poor