The competence center for charitable foundations "We want to achieve positive results with long-term effects."
Hublot founder Carlo Crocco is committed to helping disadvantaged children and young people in Europe and India through his “Main dans la Main” Foundation. In this interview, he talks about what inspired him to get involved in this social engagement and how he intends to make the foundation's social projects financially self-sustaining in the long term.
Mr. Crocco, you have had a long and successful career as an entrepreneur. Now, you are advocating for a better future for disadvantaged children with your “Main dans la Main” Foundation. What inspired you to make this commitment?
Carlo Crocco: For me, it started when my own four children had grown up. At that time, I continued to feel a great need to be involved in the well-being of children and young people. In particular, I wanted to help children with physical disabilities or those from poorer regions of the world. So, I began traveling to India in 1994. There, I saw the difficult situation for poor, sick, and orphaned children with my own eyes. That's why I decided to support existing and establish new local projects that take care of disadvantaged children and young people.
So, your humanitarian work began in India?
Yes, we started with projects in South India. We have expanded these together with local partners over the years. This enables us to support children and young people in the most diverse of situations. For example, one of our projects is for pregnant girls who have been rejected by their families and in another, we offer medical care and education to children with serious illnesses or physical disabilities.
It’s very important for us that we always collaborate with committed employees locally who manage the individual projects on a daily basis and look after the children. Doing so has enabled us to help more than 2,000 children to date.
Your foundation is now involved in other projects outside of India as well, isn’t it?
Correct. After undertaking these commitments on a purely personal level for the first few years, I established the “Main dans la Main” (MdM) Foundation in 1998. This meant I could give the engagement a stable basis and other people could more easily support the cause.
In addition to its direct projects, the foundation awards an annual prize of CHF 50,000 to a person or organization committed to helping disadvantaged children. In 2010, we also began to work in Italy and Switzerland. Ca. Stella FARM-Camino in Meride, Switzerland, is an example of this.
Can you tell us a bit more about Ca. Stella FARM?
Ca. Stella FARM is a social enterprise, an organic farm that we have built in the beautiful area of Meride on Monte San Giorgio. Already during the reconstruction of the main building, we were able to offer many students from special schools in the Sottoceneri the opportunity to work here and develop their skills. In the meantime, the building, which was in need of renovation, has been turned into a modern, completely handicap accessible multi-purpose facility with 24 overnight accommodations. Children and young people with physical or mental disabilities, as well as families, associations, and school classes, all feel at home here.
In addition to the agricultural products from the organic farm, we mainly offer animal-related activities under the guidance of qualified staff. This ranges from therapeutic activities, through animal-assisted education, to hiking with our alpacas in the region. The facility also has a campsite. This allows us to continue to offer disadvantaged young people professional opportunities. For example, in food services or reception work.
How do you ensure the financing of the projects?
We do not receive any public funding for our projects. To date, they have been largely financed by the foundation. However, the goal is for as many of our projects as possible to be financially self-sustaining since our aim is to achieve a positive effect in the long-term. And this is only possible if our projects reach a high degree of self-financing.
At Ca. Stella FARM, we are now well on our way to achieving this. We have, among other things, integrated the campsite and a vegetarian restaurant, in which we use our own vegetables. And we are constantly looking for new ideas for further expanding our services.
How important is your bank as a partner for your foundation?
Backing from a solid bank is always important. The foundation has been working with Credit Suisse since its inception. It is a longstanding relationship that has always worked well. Additionally, our collaboration has intensified significantly over the past few months.
You’re referring to Credit Suisse's regional ambassadors for public foundations?
That's right, Francesco Andreazzi and Ohan Inian proactively approached us with fresh ideas and concrete proposals for the foundation. This created new possibilities and opportunities: for example, how we can build a network with other foundations that have similar goals or how to increase awareness of “Main dans la Main” and, as a result, its potential. This is a service that I really appreciate.