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 take action.

The Karuna Foundation was established in 2007 by the Dutch entrepreneur René aan de Stegge.  Betteke de Gaay Fortman was appointed as Director. After some research, they decided to focus on Nepal as the problems related to lack of care for persons with disability were severe in the country, while no other programmes were existing to support these persons. They went to Nepal, met with the social leader and entrepreneur Deepak Sapkota (and later Yogendra Giri) and decided to embark on the journey together.  Since then they have continuously developed, tested, learned  and adjusted the program uptill the moment in 2019 when they realised their cost effective Inspire2Care program was ready for scaling to a provincial level and they developed a replication plan.  In the past years Karuna Nepal  has grown into a strong organisation with 60 Nepalese professionals and has become an independent local NGO, since 2015.

In January 2019 a new foundation was formed called KarunaNL with the objective to support KarunaNepal in fundraising, reporting and coordination with funders, organising an impact study and providing support to the management team in the realization of the scaling.  In  the summer of 2019 the Government of Nepal adopted the program in their health care policy, developed a new act and agreed on a costsharing mechanism with all municipalities involved and the Karuna Foundation. The Government will be responsible for the implementation and Karuna will support, train and advise them.

At the start of the replication plan, KarunaNL had four committed funders, willing to support the scaling of the Inspire2Care program in the coming 5 years. With this group of funders and the scale of the program, a new governance and legal entity was needed. Hence the former Karuna foundation was transformed into the KarunaNL foundation. Annet van den Hoek was appointed as new director.

The former Karuna foundation in the Netherlands is continued by the founder, as his own family foundation “Stichting Perspectief”.

KarunaNL has no annual report yet.


Ir. 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.

Wilma Schaftenaar, Financial manager.


The foundation has a board consisting of three members:

R.T.T. Aan de Stegge (chairman and founder)
Dr. ir. Charles Nijman
Prof. dr. Geert Blijham


The foundation KarunaNL is currently funded by four foundations:

– Ineke Feitz Stichting
– Stichting WeeshuisderDoopsgezinden
– Stichting Perspectief
– UBS Optimus foundation.