About Karuna 2019-02-19T22:13:20+00:00

About Karuna

The word Karuna originates from Sanskrit, the classic language of the Indian subcontinent, and means ‘compassion’. The mission of Karuna Foundation – improving the lives of children with disabilities – starts and ends with compassion. It is compassion that makes people look after their fellow humans and it is compassion that makes people take action themselves.

Karuna Foundation was established in 2007 by the Dutch entrepreneur René aan de Stegge, director and owner of GiesbersGroep. Betteke de Gaay Fortman was appointed as Director. Right after the foundation, the mission and vision were developed, an organisation was established in the Netherlands and in the first project country, Nepal, and the first innovative projects started. Together with social entrepreneurs Deepak Sapkota and Yogendra Giri, Karuna Nepal was established and started working on Karuna’s mission. Karuna Nepal has grown into a strong organisation with 60 Nepalese professionals, that has become an independent local organisation with its own board in 2016. See www.karunanepal.org for more information.


Annet van den Hoek is Director of Karuna Foundation the Netherlands. She has international experience in advising philanthropist organisations on increasing impact. In the beginning of 2019 she took over from former Director Betteke de Gaay Fortman. The Director is the only fulltime employee, supported by people who work on a freelance or voluntary basis.


The Board consists of René aan de Stegge (Chairman), Toon Kasdorp (Secretary) and Huub Timmer (Treasurer). The role of the Board includes developing and controlling the policy and the implementation of the projects. The Board Members do not receive any compensation for their activities. The chairman of the board visits Nepal once a year, together with the director.

René aan de Stegge is an entrepreneur and owner of GiesbersGroep, and is the initiator/founder of Karuna Foundation. With his pioneering spirit and entrepreneurial experience, he wants to contribute to better and more sustainable health care services in rural villages. As chairman of the board he is intensely involved in the policy and implementation of Karuna’s programs.

Toon Kasdorp was a lawyer and partner at law firm Houthoff Buruma.

Huub Timmer is a financial controller and works for several companies as an independent entrepreneur.