About Us

The Adara Group (formerly the ISIS Group) is an international development organisation and an Australian corporate advisory and private placement business. The core objective of the business is to fund Adara Development's core support costs. Adara Development's (formerly The ISIS Foundation) objective is to work side by side with communities and children in remote areas in Nepal and Uganda, improving their lives through health, education and other community development projects. The Adara Group aims to change the way people think about the role of business, and the power of business/non-profit partnerships. The Adara Group is an early example of a 'business for purpose' partnering with a non-profit organisation. The Adara team is delighted that after 17 years we are still providing services to more than 30,000 people in poverty each year since 1998.
  • ADARA long-term strategy outlining three 30-year goals and three peaks of excellence

  • Adara's development philosophy and its culture and values are at the core of all that we do.

  • Understand where our money goes, and our stringent governance policies.


  • Adara was born after years of discussion and thinking about the arbitrary distribution of wealth, power, hope and security in the world. The underpinning philosophy of the Adara Group is that, if we are to truly effect change, business and power must hold hands with non-profits and development.The Adara structure was set up to address important business issues that confront many non-profits. At the outset, we tried to address two key problems that beset the more traditionally funded non-profit organisations.
    1. Though non-profits advocate 'sustainability' to the poor, many are not sustainable as business entities themselves unless they have a core funder. Many non-profits are compelled to spend much of their time and resources on fundraising rather than being able to focus on service delivery. Being donor driven, rather than client driven can lead to poor service outcomes.
    2. Non-profits are roundly criticised by the corporate world and general public - often quite unfairly - for their administration costs. Businesses themselves ensure that central management and infrastructure are well resourced to deliver products and services. Yet many expect non-profits (who in general deal with extremely more complex product and service delivery issues) to operate on minimal core support costs and live off the smell of an oily rag.
  • The concept underpinning the Adara Group was that by creating a business to be the core funder of Adara Development, we could cover all administration and infrastructure costs ourselves (known as core support costs at Adara). In addition to the power of creating a business as a funding engine for a non-profit, it is becoming accepted wisdom that the corporate world can benefit significantly when it focusses on helping those in need as a part of its commitment to the wider community. Research shows that when businesses have a genuine commitment to social responsibility, this boosts their profitability - through consumer approval and staff retention and motivation. Adara seeks to be a role model for creating a bridge between the private sector and non-profit sector, two such different worlds - with powerful outcomes.
  • Adara is a weird beast - we don't fit anyone's model of what a private business or a non-profit should look like. The Adara Group was established to join together the business and non-profit world in bringing about social change. Our structure is relatively unusual. We set up our financial services firm, Adara Advisors, with the sole aim of generating revenue to fund our own non-profit organisation rather than providing a shareholder return. As a result, Adara Advisors funds all the core support costs of Adara Development, and some emergency project costs, as a bottom-line expense of the business. We see the business as the 'engine' of revenue generation for the development organisation. Adara Development is our centrepiece, and the business is its support structure. We have also been lucky to attract some great partners from the business community, whose donations go 100 percent towards project-related costs.

    Our hope was that by making a business the funding 'engine' for a development organisation, we could avoid the two main problems we observed in traditional non-profit organisations. Since inception in 1998 up to June 2014, Adara Advisors - along with the first Adara business, ISIS Limited - has funded close to US$6.5 million in core support costs. In 2007, ISIS (Asia Pacific) (now called Adara Advisors) assumed responsibility from ISIS Limited for funding Adara Development, and became Adara Development's primary funder and core support partner. Since our beginning, Adara Development has received close to US$14.5 million in additional funding from external donors to fund our work.

Our History

  • 2014

    Our New Name

    Adara Group Logo In November 2014 the ISIS Group made the difficult decision to change our name and rebrand as the Adara Group. Although our name has changed, our work will continue with the same energy and focus that we are proud to say we have always brought to it, to reach more people living in poverty, year on year.
  • 2013

    Exams, Babies, and Culture and Friendship

    Newborns foot

    In Nepal, all of the ISIS children in Kathmandu, and all of the students at Yalbang School in Humla who sat their School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams passed with very good marks. The ISIS children have achieved a 100% pass rate to date.

    In Uganda, the KPAP programme was further enhanced with the introduction of oxygen blending to prevent damage to the immature eye vessels of premature infants. It has been a long term goal to find a solution to successfully blend air with oxygen at Kiwoko. This completes the phase of the KPAP programme.

    The first ISIS week of Culture and Friendship was held in Nepal.

    The ISIS Foundation was featured in Bloomberg Markets magazine.

  • 2012


    In Uganda, we launched a 'continuous positive airway pressure' pilot programme at Kiwoko Hospital for pre-term babies in the NICU, in collaboration with the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital.

    In Nepal, the ISIS management team and board members met and agreed a new two-fold purpose and set goals for the next 30 years and strategy for the next five.

  • 2011


    The ISIS Foundation (USA) was registered and received 501(c) status.

    The number of mothers and babies now receiving care in the maternity ward and neonatal intensive care unit at Kiwoko Hospital tripled in comparison with the old units.

    In Nepal, our Humla Plan began its implementation phase.

    In Humla, we held a month-long health camp, moving among five villages and treating more than 3000 people.

  • 2010


    In Uganda, Kiwoko Hospital and ISIS celebrated the , as ISIS and Kiwoko teams and donors gathered from all over the world.

    Over 1000 babies and over 3000 mothers were cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit and the maternal healthcare department.

    In Humla, we assembled our first team of Humli field staff solely funded by ISIS. We developed a three year Humla Plan which included health, education and community infrastructure, child wellbeing, microenterprise and food security projects and hired new staff to implement it.

    We developed a partnership with Himalayan Children Society, which had pioneered a model primary school at the Yalbang school site, with boarding facilities, excellent primary instruction, a model garden, renewable energy systems of various types, and a joint emphasis on both traditional Tibetan and Nepali culture.

    Susan Biggs took over from Leonie Exel as the Chief Executive Officer of The ISIS Foundation globally.

  • 2009


    In Uganda, we began to directly support the Ebenezer Boys project for 25 former street children, by taking full responsibility for the boys and providing food and shelter, education, health and extra-curricular activities.

    At Kiwoko Hospital, the new maternal healthcare department and expanded neonatal intensive care unit were completed.

    We partnered with Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University to improve maternal healthcare processes at Kiwoko Hospital.

    In Nepal, we continued to co-manage our projects in Humla in partnership with the Rural Integrated Development Society (RIDS), and continued our model of holistic community development based on a baseline survey of all householders in a village, and a more than 12 month resurvey of conditions in each household, to monitor the social, health and attitudinal effects of the projects.

    Between Kathmandu and Humla we began reuniting the rescued children with their families where it was safe to do so and as the children became teenagers, we built and created a youth programme to address their changing needs.

  • 2008


    At Kiwoko Hospital, we began building the expanded neonatal intensive care unit premises and new maternal healthcare department.

    In Humla, our community development projects expanded in partnership with the Rural Integrated Development Society (RIDS).

    The global support office in Sydney became fully functional.

  • 2007


    The ISIS Foundation's global support office was first set up in Sydney, Australia.

    ISIS Asia Pacific Pty Limited was set up in Australia as a 'business for purpose' to fund the core support costs of The ISIS Foundation and assumed responsibility from ISIS Limited.

    All but one of the families of the 136 rescued trafficked children were found through our partner organisation, The Himalayan Innovative Society (THIS), and an emotional information exchange between the children and their families in Humla ensued. It was still too dangerous to send the children back due to the civil unrest.

    We formed a partnership with Aspen to expand the neonatal intensive care unit at Kiwoko Hospital and build a new maternal healthcare wing.

    We formed a partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Australia to provide us with a year-long annual secondment of a top-quality chartered accountant, which we continue to this day.

  • 2006


    The ISIS Foundation (Nepal) is registered in Nepal as an international non-profit organisation.

    Two years after we first found the children and after many long hours of negotiations with the traffickers and pressure from The ISIS Foundation and Nepal's Child Welfare Board, we took full custody of all 136 children as an urgent response to their trafficking. They were then aged between six and 17. We set up 10 homes in Kathmandu that were clean, happy and safe spaces - run very much along the lines of traditional large family units, and recruited 70 Nepali staff to work with us on this project.

  • 2005


    In Kathmandu, we were providing support for 136 children who had been sent from their homes in Humla for safety and ended up in perilous conditions, while we began to work to gain custody of them.

    In Humla, we piloted our first greenhouse in Simikot to counter the region's short growing period - between four and five months.

    We also tested solar driers in an attempt to provide Humli families with another means of storing food for the harsh winters.

    At Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda, 400 babies received quality care in the NICU.

  • 2004


    We received an email from a young UK woman, Justine Squires who had discovered 30 Humli children being kept in appalling conditions in an orphanage in Kathmandu. While working in Humla, we had begun to hear terrible tales from the community about the relentless civil strife. Parents were sending their children to Kathmandu with the best intentions to try to ensure their safety and prevent Maoist armies from recruiting them as soldiers. This situation opened the door for child abusers and profiteers. Upon investigation, we found that the conditions these children were living in called for immediate action. Our battle to get custody of the children and our journey into the world of child trafficking began.

    In Uganda, our first ever container of equipment reached Kiwoko Hospital filled with medical equipment and supplies for the NICU.

    The first ever triplets were born and treated in the NICU: Martin, Mervin and Mildred.

  • 2003


    ISIS' International Medical Volunteers (IMED) began with Dr Maneesh Batra, a neonatologist from Seattle Children's Hospital, visiting Kiwoko Hospital for the first time to train NICU staff. Dr Batra is now a special advisor to The ISIS Foundation for our specialised baby care programme.

    We began working with Kiwoko Hospital's HIV/AIDS programme to ensure people living with HIV had stronger chances of survival through the provision of medication and nutrition.

    In Humla, we partnered with Kathmandu University to alleviate the primary healthcare status of the communities, by providing smokeless stoves, pit latrines, solar lighting and clean drinking water for villagers.

    The ISIS Foundation (UK) was registered in the UK.

    In Seattle, the first ever 'Packathon' was held - doctors, nurses and volunteers packed vital equipment not available in Uganda, to send to Kiwoko Hospital in a container.

    Our deep connection to the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital began.

  • 2002


    In Uganda, Debbie Lester, ISIS’ Clinical Practice Manager, visited Kiwoko Hospital to train staff in neonatal resuscitation, thermoregulation and hypo/hyperglycaemia in pre-term babies.

    Debbie Lester built partnerships with Seattle-based hospitals to donate critical equipment and medical supplies for Kiwoko Hospital, not available in Uganda.

    We began to fund the Ebenezer Boys programme, a partnership with a street children's organisation in Kampala, to provide support and care for young boys living on the streets. Today we continue to support these children and directly manage this programme.

    Our first Tibetan doctor was supported to provide mobile healthcare in Humla, walking from village to village.

    In partnership with a Nepali NGO USCCN: The building of the Syanda Health Post in Humla was completed - more than 1600 people received health services and the school hostel in Chaughanphaya village in Humla was completed - 40 children used this to access education.

  • 2001


    In Humla, we funded the first obstetric and gynaecological health camp in Simikot and provided training for health workers from several villages.

    The Yalbang (primary) School was opened in Humla, with 85 children attending.

    We began partnerships with Himalayan Medical Foundation, the Women’s Foundation, Amrit Tibetan Herbal Medicine, and Hands in Outreach in Kathmandu to build the capacity of local staff so they could provide health and education support to people living in poverty in and around Kathmandu.

    The conflict in Nepal began to impact daily life in Humla.

    In Uganda, Debbie Lester deepened our work with Kiwoko Hospital, beginning regular trips for training and development in the NICU.

    The ISIS House, where all ISIS staff and volunteers from around the world stay at Kiwoko Hospital, was completed.

    Moses Ssekkide, the head of the community based healthcare department at Kiwoko Hospital, completed his Diploma in Health Administration supported by ISIS.

    Leonie Exel joined The ISIS Foundation to help for six months (but ended up staying on as Executive Officer for nine years), and Kimber McKay became the Nepal Country Manager.

  • 2000


    In Humla, the Yalbang School building was completed and the outreach healthcare programme was rolled out in partnership with USC Canada.

    ISIS worked with Kiwoko Hospital to design, build and run their first ever neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This was the first of its kind in the region. The unit makes it possible to provide tertiary care for pre-term and critically ill babies, who may have otherwise died without this specialised newborn care.

    A medical team led by Debbie Lester, visited Kiwoko Hospital for the first time to provide training and development in the NICU. During their trip, they focused on mass neonatal resuscitation and premature baby care 101. They also brought with them supplies and cardiac monitors that were not easily accessible in the region.

    Following the first ISIS clinical trip Nola Henry, an experienced nurse, visited Kiwoko Hospital for a month working in the new NICU receiving guidance and advice by phone and email from Debbie Lester.

  • 1999


    In Uganda, we completed building the first community-based healthcare hall at Kiwoko Hospital and conducted our first training for healthcare workers and traditional birthing attendants. We also funded mobile clinics and hundreds of bicycles for outreach work.

    Brian Hall provides seed funding to build the first ISIS neonatal intensive care unit at Kiwoko Hospital and becomes a cornerstone supporter of the work of The ISIS Foundation.

    Debbie Lester, an experienced nurse, began volunteering for The ISIS Foundation from Seattle, Washington USA. She spent the year preparing for the beginning of training and development in the neonatal intensive care unit that would be conducted at Kiwoko Hospital the next year. The paediatric supply chain was also started in preparation for the first trip.

    In Nepal, we began construction of the Yalbang School, in Yalbang, Humla, 11,000 feet above sea level, and worked with the community to establish an outreach primary healthcare programme.

    Dr McKay designed and implemented our first baseline survey conducted in 11 Humli villages. The survey focused on hygiene and sanitation in villages and households, disease and disability, health seeking behaviour, and an anthropometric survey to determine the nutritional status of children aged 0-5 and women 15-45 years old.

    The ISIS Foundation (Bermuda) received charitable status in Bermuda.

  • 1998


    The story begins - after years in business, Audette Exel, Sharon Beesley and a small group of friends and supporters decide to establish the first ISIS business and The ISIS Foundation (Bermuda).

    Audette began to work for ISIS full time and travelled to Nepal and Uganda with Dr Charles Swart to learn about development work and start our first projects.

    Audette had the good fortune of meeting Dr Kimber Haddix McKay, an anthropologist with expertise in one of the most remote areas of Nepal, called Humla and our work there began. Audette and Charles spent over a month in Humla with Kimber visiting villages, meeting local people and beginning to learn the landscape and cultures of the District.

    After Nepal, Audette travelled to Uganda and connected with Kiwoko Hospital and fell in love with this special place and its people.

    We continue to work in both these regions today.