Maurice Machenbaum and Etienne Eichenberger had known each other for many years when they decided to create WISE in 2004. A meeting, facilitated by a friend, inspired this collaboration: a man with no children, wishing to put part of his wealth to use in a sound project, placed his trust in them. After supporting an organisation proposed by Maurice and Etienne, he chose to directly engage with the beneficiaries. "We were convinced that, whilst Reginald was exceptional, he was not unique".
Prior to this encounter, Maurice had worked for many years with a number of non-profit organisations, specialised in the child and health fields, notably in Latin America. During his career, first as a volunteer and subsequently as director and head of projects, he came into contact with more than 160 organisations in over thirty countries. Etienne had worked for Nestlé in India, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and the Stephan Schmidheiny's foundation followed by numerous years with the World Economic Forum at Davos.
Based on this fruitful meeting with Reginald and the combined strength of their respective professional track records, they decided to create an organisation to support donors. Their collaboration took form in the founding of WISE, acronym for Wealthy Individuals - Social Entrepreneurs. "wise" also aptly describes an approach to philanthropy based on an understanding of the constraints, possibilities and mechanisms linked to the funding of social action.