Our History

Highlights 1997-today

October 1997

The Canopus Foundation was founded as a private charitable family foundation.


Orientation towards a “venture philanthropy” model. First experiences in cooperating with social enterprises in developing and emerging countries; focus on environmentally friendly energy systems, entrepreneurial commitment and poverty alleviation. The foundation uses the expertise that its sister company forseo GmbH has gained from its investments in solar and wind power companies in Europe and America.


Cooperation with Grameen Bank, Grameen Shakti and Grameen Cybernet in providing three village schools in Bangladesh with thin-film solar modules for the local generation of electricity. Expansion of the project through the entry of BP Solar in 2001.


BASE (Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy): co-founded by Canopus together with a Swiss partner organization; collaboration on the feasibility study. On the initiative of Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP at the time, BASE obtained the status of a Collaborating Centre of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Canopus' executive director is a member of the BASE Foundation Board.


The foundation supports the Brazilian organization IDEAAS, founded by Fabiò Rosa, with financial and human resources for the project "The Sun Shines for All" in providing low-income homes in Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul with solar power-generated electricity; support in acquiring development funds from other European foundations.


forseo GmbH provides bridge finance for Quiron, an IDEAAS project: linking the rural solar power supply with a concept to increase the organic production of crop and livestock in order to secure an income for farmers and shepherds (Gauchos).


Canopus supports SELCO Ltd. in Bangalore, India, founded by Harish Hande, in gaining certified emission reduction (CER) credits for their solar home systems. The CER certification helps SELCO to verify that their systems contribute to reduce CO2 emissions. By selling these CER credits on the European ETS market SELCO is able to generate financial added value.


Symposium "Social Entrepreneurship in Germany" with national partner organizations on the framework conditions for charitable entrepreneurial initiatives in Germany.


Advice "Barefoot College" in Tilonia, India, on the setup of the manufacturing unit of solar lanterns; assistance in a reference study by the Norwegian government; further advisory work for solar initiatives in Africa: Wawata, Tanzania, and Tiané Photovoltaique, Senegal.


Symposium "Sympathetic Values – Innovative Funding Mechanisms for Social Change" in celebration of the Canopus Foundation’s 10th birthday: The symposium brings together social investors from Europe and America in order to present specialized social investment funds and review them with regard to their relevance as new financing tools. The funds are specialized on health care/eye clinics, organic agriculture, and independent media work.


The "Solar for All" initiative is founded together with Ashoka.


The first "Solar for All" contest for innovative low-cost off-grid photovoltaic solutions is launched.


The "Solar for All" contest award ceremony is hosted by Intersolar North America. Awarded are the best and most innovative system solutions for sustainable and reliable energy supply in low-income off-grid areas.


Development of the concept of a thematically focused "Solar for All" Investment Fund providing equity to social enterprises in Africa and Southern Asis in the field of solar energy access. Contacts to fund managers in the micro credit sector. Grant of 300.000 € from the European Investment Bank (EIB-GEEREF) to conceptualise the structure of the fund.


Signature of a term sheet with Bamboo Finance, Geneva. Conclusions of the conceptual work on the fund, final report to EIB in summer 2013. Bamboo Finance takes over the fund project.

Support of the solar energy access enterprises Kamworks (Cambodia), Angaza (USA) and Solar Age (Namibia).


Start of the "re:mini" project. Rapid market assessment of existing loan and credit finance options for solar energy access enterprises in developing countries, provided by private institutions and governmental development agencies.

In July 2014, in association with other partners, the Canopus Foundation founded the HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA Governance Platform (HVGP) gGmbH in Berlin.


In March 2015, together with the HVGP, the Canopus Foundation organised an "Economic-Trialogue" on the topic of "Unemployment in Europe".

Since April 2015, the Canopus Foundation supports the newly established Cusanus Hochschule (engl. "Cusanus University") in Bernkastel-Kues with a financial contribution for the master study program "Economy and Cultural Design", and since Oktober 2015 by co-financing a professorship in the field of "Economic Design".


Launch and organisation of the second "Solar for All" contest for innovative photovoltaic village grid power solutions in cooperation with the Fraunhofer ISE.