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Guest Profile

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Sandro Giuliani

Board Trustee

Roger Federer Foundation

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About Sandro Giuliani

Sandro Giuliani has a background in business administration from his MBA studies at the University of Zurich and also holds a Master of Advanced Studies in development and cooperation from the ETH Zurich. 


From 1999 to 2009, Sandro Giuliani worked for Pestalozzi Children Foundation, most recently as head of its international programs and member of the Board of Directors.


Sandro Giuliani joined the Board of the Roger Federer Foundation in 2019. He is currently the Executive Director for the Impact Forum and Fund at the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA).

Sandro is also a member of the Board of the Compagnia di San Paolo, the Jacobs University Bremen and the German Children & Youth Foundation (DKJS) and Member of the Managing Board of Swiss Foundations.


Episode Overview

Roger Federer Foundation: great insight on Roger’s philanthropic work and the Foundation’s support of education in Africa and Switzerland, from Board Trustee Sandro Giuliani.


The Foundation was founded in 2003 and focuses on school readiness; they invest approximately 10m Swiss Francs (roughly US $10m at the time of writing) annually supporting children to transition into school. 


UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.2 is a key reference for their work, aspiring to ensure that by 2030: all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.


Geographically, the Foundation works across six countries in Africa – Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe – and also in Switzerland.  Roger’s mother is South African and his father is Swiss.


When asked what it’s like to work with Roger, Sandro replies that it’s pretty cool.  Roger is running the Foundation strategically and is very hands on. For Sandro, it’s not just about working with someone who’s very high profile, it’s also a matter of working with a philanthropist who truly wants to transform children’s lives for the better. It’s a lot of fun and a privilege; it is incredibly rewarding.


We hear how the Foundation has a strong executive team and is very lean. There are only around three team members based in Switzerland and another three based in South Africa. Their CEO is Janine Händel, who has been with the Foundation from the outset.


The Foundation’s approach is community based; they work with teachers through their partner organisations (the Foundation is not an implementing organisation); they work with local partners directly in the local communities they serve and have reached more than one and a half million children. 


Sandro notes the Foundation is working on an innovative project right now called the ‘Early Learning Kiosk’, which is a tablet-based app that is used by pre-primary educators to train themselves; and it also helps teachers assess a child’s development.   It is easy to scale since it is a tablet-based solution.  They are currently testing the Early Learning Kiosk with 5,000 teachers; and we hear how it was developed with universities and local partners. Even though the Early Learning Kiosk is currently being tested, it is already available for download for anyone who wishes to sample it. Once testing is completed, the Foundation aims to scale it and deploy it across Africa. The Early Learning Kiosk is available for download on both Apple and Android tablets.


Sandro adds that the Foundation is in an enviable position, whereby they can combine rigorous testing and innovation with a strong brand name and a personality that can engage effectively with policymakers.  First they focus on excellence and then they use the power of Roger to promote their work.


During these challenging times with COVID-19, the Foundation aims to ensure that teachers learn, maintain and increase their competence while in remote areas.  There is a focus on teacher workforce and quality; and they need to use technology to strengthen the role of the teacher; not to replace the teacher. 


Sandro remarks that this is an exciting platform for scale; to reach millions of kids through various partners who are active throughout Africa.  The development of the Early Learning Kiosk at the beginning was in collaboration with Hansjörg Wyss, one of the biggest Swiss philanthropists. 

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Additional Resources

Sandro Giuliani - LinkedIn

Sandro Giuliani - Twitter

The Roger Federer Foundation

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