About us

Spanda Foundation

Spanda Foundation (Spanda) is a The Hague (NL) based International Civil Society Organization (ICSO) for development to catalyse sustainable long-term systemic change in culture, education, health & environment, economics, and research. Spanda aims to promote creative solutions and strategic resources for the attainment of a higher individual and collective state of consciousness, and to foster social, economic and global development by pursuing initiatives that serve the common good and add social value.
The Foundation was established in 2005 under the Dutch law as a legally independent, non-profit, tax-exempt organisation for the common good (ANBI), and is in Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Spanda launched the Mantra Project in 2011 in Sierra Leone in the districts of Pujehun and Bo to support income generating activities for low income households. It implemented a sustainable off-grid solar power system and promoted the productive use of energy among villagers for cooking, lighting, IT, radio, household electrification, agriculture water pumping, machinery operation etc., and micro-business. This section of the project is now on hold due to the outbreak of Ebola.

The MC will be incorporated in the Mantra Project as a new chapter and pursues its mission to “alleviate poverty and revitalize communities in developing countries by empowering people to lead lives of self-reliance, meet their own basic needs and attain economic self-sufficiency, in harmony with their culture and the environment”.

 Our Team

Elena Fuhr (Germany) – Project Development

Elena developed the MC project within the scope of her Master thesis in International Relations at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. Having developed the project’s theoretical background over the last six month, she is now devising its implementation details together with the selected Mapuche communities.

Before her MA, she was educated at the University of Zaragoza (Spain) and the University of Munich where she earned a BSc in Economics.

Working on a number of development projects in different European countries, in Accra (Ghana) and in Tabacundo (Ecuador) she got acquainted within many different cultures and beliefs which made her develop a strong interest in the field of development with cultural identity. Since she finished her Master programme in 2015, she volunteers with Spanda Foundation to prepare the project’s implementation.


Francesca Compagnone (Italy) – Research

In the context of the Mapuche Chapter Francesca is researching the possible implications of adopting a food sovereignty approach to establish a sustainable rural development strategy with cultural identity in the selected communities.

She holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Naples, L’Orientale, and a MSc in Development Economics from the University of Florence, where she graduated with a thesis evaluating the impact of land ownership on women’s household decisions in Burkina Faso. She has experience in both qualitative and quantitative research in the fields of agricultural economics, food security and rural development. Currently based at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, she is preparing for her future field work in Latin America on the topics of agrarian change, environmental justice, agroecology and food movements.


Francesca Vespasiani (Italy) – Research and Fundraising

Francesca is working on a research paper about Mapuche intergenerational learning and transmission of traditional knowledge and is helping to find possible partners and funding opportunities for the project.

Francesca recently graduated from University of Bologna. After a Bachelor Degree in Anthropological Sciences, she attained a Master Degree in Political Sciences, with a specialisation in International Cooperation and Development Studies. She has experience in qualitative research, gained through two different field researches, one in Tamil Nadu (India) on intergenerational knowledge transmission and one in Ghana on water management and community participation. Among her interests and studies there are indigenous people, human rights, development studies and economics.


Valentina Vadala (Italy) – Communication

In the context of the Mapuche Chapter project Valentina is responsible for communication and fundraising.

She holds a bachelor degree in International Relation from the University of Bologna. During the course she spent one semester at the University of Barcelona, Spain, working on European Integration and international trade, where she got passionate about ibero-american culture and minorities. Currently, she is enrolled in a Master degree in European Affairs at the University of Bologna during which she attended a semester at the University of Leuven, Belgium, working on European foreign policy and ibero-american history. She is interested in international and European law, human rights, development economics and ibero-american minorities.