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The Conversation with Vanina Laurent-Ledru, head of Foundation S – The Sanofi Collective

In our blog series, “The Conversation”, we discuss how we can co-create agile and impactful interventions for a healthier world.
Meet Vanina Laurent-Ledru, the head of Foundation S – The Sanofi Collective; the new philanthropy engine of Sanofi.  Although only recently launched, they already have been able to impact 23 million lives, thanks to the power of their diverse team coming from different corners of the globe. Vanina, a trained lawyer, has 20 years of experience as a senior executive and counsel in organizations like Gavi, or Sanofi. She discussed with us about the impact and the Why of philanthropy. 


What values drive your philanthropy?

The strengths and power of the collective are our highest value.  We know we cannot create long-lasting impact without first understanding issues at the local level, but also working with a multitude of actors to solve some of the most pressing global health issues.
Two other things are important to creating long-lasting impact.  The first is being data-driven.  What we try to do is measure our actions through public health outcomes. Related to humanitarian aid and medicine donations, we measure our impact by the number of lives saved or impacted through our contributions. The second is trust-based philanthropy.  What this means to us is how we can simplify our operations and accelerate our impact.  We have been rethinking Foundation S operations with this in mind to ensure that we can be closer to our grantees and accelerate our impact.


Why did you choose to give to the WHO Foundation? 

There are many potential grantees out there, but WHO Foundation is playing a key role on two fronts.
The first is innovation.  The Foundation is innovating in fundraising and in expected impact on global health.  We find this very exciting and interesting.
The second is diversity. The diverse team and the complementary points of view that have been assembled at the Foundation are contributing to deepening the impact of the Foundation’s actions.  Working hand in hand with WHO and its regions and ensuring at the same time that the key programs of WHO can be funded is essential to a strong and sustainable global health framework.


Why did you join the WHO Foundation Health Emergencies Alliance?

We support the WHO Foundation’s Health Emergencies Alliance because we believe in the power of innovation and in the importance of joining a strong collective. The WHO Foundation has the ability to convene different partners who are all essential to supporting vulnerable populations when they are impacted by natural disasters and other crises. It’s essential for the long term that we join forces between humanitarian actors and development actors and that’s where I think the junction can be made. What we’ve been trying to do at Foundation S is to move from a reactive approach to a proactive approach when it comes to emergency relief.  Again, we can only do that if we combine the efforts of the public and private sectors.  Every project we are involved in, whether in Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Korea or Lebanon, tells us that it is the power of the collective in action that works, and the earlier those forces are aligned and the better they understand each other, the better the response works. This is why we are very much looking forward to seeing the Health Emergencies Alliance in action, and creating a preparedness framework for humanitarian aid and that is where the role of the WHO Foundation is essential. 


What advice would you give to others new to philanthropic giving?

What I’ve learned throughout my career is that you can only be successful by surrounding yourself with different minds, with complementary skill sets, and by not trying to recreate the wheel.  In global health, it’s very important to foster community-led giving and that we don’t take a top-down approach when it comes to our philanthropy, but that we agitate, innovate and orchestrate in all that we do.  We agitate the public discourse so that those who don’t have a voice can be given a megaphone. We innovate because we have a duty not to do things in the same way when they don’t work.  If people are still vulnerable, then something isn’t working and we need to continually push ourselves to innovate.  We orchestrate because nothing can be done without putting everyone around the table and ensuring that what gets innovated gets implemented.  We have high hopes that the Health Emergencies Alliance of the Foundation can work for the greater good and achieve massive impact.  We invite other companies and corporate philanthropies to join us in this effort.


To get more information and to join WHO Foundation’s Health Emergencies Alliance, contact


December 19, 2022, 11 min. read
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