About us

For a basic understanding of economics

Since the early 1970s, the Ernst Schmidheiny Foundation has been active in promoting understanding of economic aspects - in particular among young people. The Foundation wants to arouse interest in economic matters. The Foundation is committed to ensuring that young people have access to the knowledge necessary for critical examination and debate on economic questions.

Economy Weeks - the core activity of the Foundation

The Foundation's best-known activity is the Economy Weeks joint project. Working together with the Chambers of Industry and Commerce and numerous Swiss companies, the Foundation holds project weeks in Swiss higher secondary schools (Gymnasien). Managers from the world of industry and commerce guide the Economy Weeks, acting as instructors.

Our history

The Ernst Schmidheiny Foundation was founded in 1972/73 by the former Cementfabrik Holderbank AG (now Holcim Ltd.) on the occasion of the 70th birthday of Dr. h.c. Ernst Schmidheiny. The Foundation promotes understanding of and interest in economic aspects, particularly among young people.


The operation of the Ernst Schmidheiny Foundation is paid for by annual contributions of the company Holcim (Switzerland) AG as well as the Lotex Foundation. The Foundation's assets are intended for the further development of foundation projects.

Operational Foundation

The work of the Ernst Schmidheiny foundation is purely operational, i.e. it does not provide any funds to other projects. Please do not make any applications for funds to the Foundation.

"If we wish to develop further in a sustainable and positive manner, we need a basic understanding of economics. We need to recognise the fundamental connections within our economy in order to work in a committed way in a direct democracy."

Dr. h.c. Thomas Schmidheiny
Foundation president 1985-2015


Every young person in Switzerland should become intensely involved at least once during his or her schooldays with economic matters and basic economic principles. The Foundation promotes education in general economics, particularly among young people. The aim of the Foundation is to create "enlightened citizens" who have the capacity to make judgements in social matters, even when highly complex questions are involved. In this way, the Foundation contributes to communities and community life in Switzerland.

The Foundation stands for factual, neutral communication of knowledge. The fundamental values the Foundation supports are: democracy, the social market economy, social partnership as well as economic and ecological sustainability.

  • Foundation statutes pdf


Activity-oriented learning

You are far more likely to remember things you have done yourself. This is why, ever since the 1970s, the Foundation has relied on activity-oriented learning in the form of computer-based simulations / management games. This involves school students with "economics" in a lively, easy to understand way.

Teaching concepts for economics

The simulations and management games were devised in co-operation with the Institute for Education in Economics (Institut für Wirtschaftspädagogik) at the University of St. Gallen and other management game experts. They are designed as teaching concepts. This means that as well as the game software they comprise documents for the course leader, class materials and in part also teaching materials.

Target groups

The Foundation's offer is directed at Swiss higher secondary school levels (Sekundarstufe II, high schools and vocational schools etc.) and colleges/adult education, as well as lower Swiss secondary school levels (Sekundarstufe I).

"Human plus tool"

Combining an economic teaching concept with its communication by a person with practical experience has shown itself to be ideal for learning success. The Economy Weeks are based on this model. Here, executives from the business world teach school students ("humans") for a week. The framework of an Economy Week is the WIWAG® simulation ("tool").

Geographical focus

Geographically speaking, the Foundation's activities focus on Switzerland. In addition, we undertake collaborations with skilled partners abroad. Activities abroad are extended according to the situation and only if we can work with partner organisations that have the appropriate capability and long-term quality can be assured. We are not at present planning any further projects abroad.



The Foundation develops teaching concepts for education in economics, based on computer games and simulations. The Foundation trains teaching staff, university lecturers and volunteers from the world of business (instructors) in the use of the teaching concepts. In addition, the Foundation is committed to establishing partnership models, that is to say co-operation projects for using the educational concepts (Economy Weeks, Discovering Economics). The Symposium completes the list of the Foundation's activities.

The Ernst Schmidheiny Foundation is an operative foundation, i.e. it follows its own projects and programmes. The Foundation will not accept any applications.


Annual reviews

  • 2020 annual review pdf
  • 2019 annual review pdf
  • 2018 annual review pdf
  • 2017 annual review pdf
  • 2016 annual review pdf
  • 2015 annual review pdf
  • 2014 annual review pdf
  • 2013 annual review pdf
  • 2012 annual review pdf


In its programmes, the Foundation cooperates actively with iconomix and YES.

The Foundation is a member of the Swiss Association of Support Foundations (Schweizer Verband der Förderstiftungen, Swissfoundations) as well as of the Simulation and Gaming Society in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (SAGSAGA).

The Foundation is a co-signatory of the LCH Swiss Teachers' Association ethical charter (Ethik-Charta des LCH) for out-of-school providers of education.

The Foundation is a member of  the Association of Swiss Business Women (Wirtschaftsfrauen Schweiz).