Vontobel fundraising appeal 2021 supports the livelihoods of 10,000 people in Lebanon helping them to make a fresh start

20/01/2022 Reading time: 5 minute(s)

With the 2021 Fundraising Initiative, we are supporting the ICRC’s aid activities in Lebanon, helping people to make a fresh start in their lives. At Vontobel, we firmly believe in the future and its possibilities. We accept challenges and actively create opportunities—for our clients, our employees, and for society as a whole.

On August 4, 2020, an enormous explosion shook the Port of Beirut and its surrounding neighborhoods causing more than 200 deaths and 6,000 injuries. Almost half of the city’s infrastructure was damaged—and all this amid the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since this catastrophic event, the Lebanese economy has been in ruins. Many people who were already in a difficult situation no longer knew how they would feed their families.

Pietro Orlandi, EcoSec Coordinator in Lebanon, gave an impressive, moving description of the situation and needs of the people in Lebanon at the exciting podium discussion during the livestream event on November 18. The emotional insights have accomplished a lot. The fundraising appeal 2021 is the most successful initiative since 2015. Our employees have never donated as much as they did during the XMAS donation 2021. As always, Vontobel doubles the donations.

Watch the replay



«I am very impressed with the great willingness to help shown by our employees, and I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for the support that led to the success of this fundraising appeal. I am glad that with the Fundraising Initiative 2021, Vontobel can make a substantial contribution to the aid provided by the ICRC to the people in Lebanon.»

Thomas Heinzl, CFO and patron of the fundraising appeal in 2021



What will the donation be used for?

This donation will help needy people in Lebanon meet their basic needs, strengthen their existing livelihoods, support their earned income, and help them to make a fresh start. The assistance from Vontobel will be used to finance the activities of the ICRC to alleviate existing needs and, at the same time, support the country’s efforts to rebuild after the explosion in Beirut.

The donation will especially be used for the ICRC program for economic security in Lebanon. The ICRC offers:

  • distribution of food packages and hygiene items to households for immediate aid
  • help for victims of violence, families of missing people, people with physical disabilities, and other at risk people:
    • monthly grants to cover rent, medical expenses, or other unavoidable living expenses
    • provision of training sessions and cash grants for founding small businesses
    • implementation of cash-for-work projects to improve communal water sources and food production
    • donation of aid supplies for agriculture and livestock farming as well as assistance given to farmers to help them market their products

Micro-economic Initiative (MEI)

A Micro-Economic Initiative program also got underway in Lebanon, to help people with the aptitude to run a small business.  It targets individuals with a basic understanding of reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as an understanding of basic business principles. After signing up for the project, the ICRC provides these business owners with an ATM card that allows access to an account into which the assistance funds are provided by the ICRC. In 2021, around 30 people were selected to be included in the program, as well as seven additional beneficiaries of the Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) program, so-called "CVA graduates."  They each received grants ranging from $4,000 to $8,000, conditional on providing proof of business-related purchases made under the project agreement. After six months of this cash support, beneficiaries are asked if they would prefer to continue with cash support for an additional six months or develop a sustainable source of income.

What is the effect of the donations?

  • CHF 1,000 can help a needy household to cover its basic needs for a year.
  • The ICRC's cash grants to help with living expenses typically range from CHF 2,000 to CHF 6,000, but after the explosion they have been raised to up to CHF 8,000. With this money, breadwinners can rebuild a sustainable income for their families.

How many people benefit from the donation?

The ICRC will use the donation to support up to 2,000 households (10,000 people) with emergency food parcels and cash grants that will further strengthen the ICRC program for economic security.


Ahmad, Fatima, and Saiid— Three MEI success stories

The success stories of Ahmad, Fatima, and Saiid show how important donations are and what the ICRC’s aid programs can accomplish. Thanks to the assistance from the ICRC, these young people managed to make a fresh start under the most difficult of conditions.

Ahmad, 33 years old, Lebanese

Ahmad lives in the Ozaii district in the suburbs of Beirut, is married and has four children. One of his legs had to be amputated, and he was fitted with a prosthesis by the ICRC physical rehabilitation team. He used to work in a butcher's shop, but he lost his job two years ago. In 2021 he was selected for the MEI. As requested in his project proposal, he received an amount of USD 6,600 to open a small bakery in his town. Today Ahmad is happy that he can work again after two years of unemployment. The last time he was visited by the ICRC was in November 2021. He is now earning around 5,000,000 LBP (approx. CHF 3,000) per month, which is enough for him to pay his rent and school fees for his children.


Saiid, 30 years old, Lebanese

Saiid lives in Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, with his parents and brother. Fifteen years ago he was in an accident and has been disabled ever since. The ICRC physical rehabilitation team provided him with a wheelchair. He applied to the local authorities looking after disabled persons for financial assistance to start his own business, but unfortunately he was turned down. Through the ICRC's MEI program, however, Saiid received $3,800, enabling him to open a coffee shop in Tripoli – something he had always dreamed of. Since then, he has been working in this café with his brother, generating 1,000,000 LBP (approx. 600 CHF) every day. Thanks to the regular income from this successful project, Saiid was able to get married.


Fatima, 28 years old, Syrian

Fatima was seven months pregnant when she fled to a refugee camp. She opened a beauty salon in the camp with a grant from the ICRC. “I have my own income and can pay for everything that I need. I am no longer dependent on others.”

Learn more



We have been holding an internal fundraising appeal every year since 2015 as part of our partnership with the ICRC

  • Fundraising appeal 2020 “Restoring family links”

  • Fundraising appeal 2019 “ALMANACH—the digital doctor”

  • Fundraising appeal 2018 “Restoring schools in Iraq”

  • Fundraising appeal 2017 “Secure access to education”

  • Fundraising appeal 2016 “Protecting Syrian children from weapons”

  • Fundraising appeal 2015 “Access to drinking water”


Vontobel has been a member of the ICRC Corporate Support Group since 2005

Selected Swiss companies founded the ICRC Corporate Support Group to provide long-term support for the ICRC’s new tasks. Vontobel has been a member since 2005. Vontobel launches an internal fundraising initiative every year in favor of the ICRC as part of this membership.

You can find more information about the ICRC Corporate Support Group here.