The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development: Tackling HIV/AIDS and Poverty in South Africa

Darden School (University of Virginia)



Case Study Sector


In 1998, Klaus Leisinger and Karin Schmitt of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development in Basel, Switzerland, were approached by a sociologist who wanted help in launching a pilot program in Tanzania to deal with the crisis of the more than 8 million HIV/AIDS-orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa. The proposed program was unusual in that it addressed the psychological and social traumas these children experienced. The other unusual aspect of this request was that Novartis, at that time the second-largest pharmaceutical company in the world, did not make, sell, or distribute any products related to HIV/AIDS. Novartis, and its philanthropic foundation, was committed to helping the neediest in developing countries, however. Leisinger and Schmitt did not believe that "throwing money" at problems resulted in solutions; rather, they looked for innovative ways to address problems and crises. But given the unusual nature of the request, Leisinger and Schmitt had to decide whether the foundation should help launch this program.



  • Field Building
  • Strategy


  • Africa
  • Europe

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