About Us

The Adara Group has two quite different parts, but one united purpose – to support people in poverty. The first part is an international development organisation called Adara Development. The second part is two Australia-based corporate advisory businesses, Adara Advisors and Adara Partners.

The Adara businesses are “for purpose” rather than for profit. Their sole objective is to fund Adara Development’s administration and emergency project costs. This allows 100% of all other donations received by Adara Development to go directly to project-related costs.

Adara is focussed on improving health and education for women, children and communities living in poverty. Over two decades we have built expertise in maternal, newborn and child health; and remote community development. We reach tens of thousands of people living in poverty each year.

Our Vision

Our vision is that each and every person has access to quality health, education and other essential services, no matter where they live.

Our Mission

Our mission is to bridge the worlds of business and the world of people in extreme poverty, and to support vulnerable communities with health, education and other essential services.


  • Adara’s story is built on a commitment to partnership across divides, a commitment embodied in our tagline ‘Bridging Worlds’. We bridge the world of Wall Street with the alleyways of Humla, the world of business with the world of non-profits, and the world of privilege with the world of poverty.

    The Adara model was set up to address important business issues that confront many non-profits:

    1. In order for non-profits to be truly sustainable, long-term funding is important. This is often difficult, and many non-profits instead find themselves spending much of their time and resources for fundraising, rather than service delivery.
    2. Non-profits are also roundly criticised – often quite unfairly – for their administration costs. They are expected to operate with minimal expenses.
  • We know that the halls of business and power have incredible potential to facilitate change for communities in need. 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. In doing this, we could also demonstrate the power of business and become truly sustainable.

    With the current state of inequality in the world, bridging these worlds is more important than ever, as rising extreme inequality – the gap between rich and poor – threatens to undo the progress made in tackling poverty over the past 20 years. Our goal is to show that through bridging worlds, we can change hundreds of thousands of lives.

  • The Adara businesses, Adara Partners and Adara Advisors, exist for the sole purpose of delivering financial services expertise at the highest levels to clients, with fees generated on transactions directly benefitting people living in extreme poverty. Since inception to December 2017, the Adara businesses, Adara Advisors and Adara Partners, have donated more than AU$12.3 million to Adara Development. Both Adara Advisors and Adara Partners are registered B Corporations.

Our History

  • 2017

    Scale-Up, Grants and a New Strategy


    In June 2017, Adara Partners was announced as a Certified B Corporation. This label recognises Adara’s place in the movement of people using business as a force for good.

    Adara was announced as a Saving Lives at Birth grant recipient. This grant will fund a trial of the bCPAP kit, which will take place in the Kiwoko Hospital NICU in 2018 for five months.

    Adara’s collaboration partner Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) was awarded a Grand Challenges Canada grant. Adara is an implementation partner for this award and will be working with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Medical Research Council. The grant is for developing and testing a community-based early-intervention programme for infants at risk of disability and their carers.

    In September, Adara led a Charity Challenge through Nepal, raising more than US $95,000 to fund Adara’s programmes on the ground.

    Adara’s scale-up work in Uganda began. The IMED team began conducting newborn training at Nakaseke General Hospital to lay the groundwork for establishing a newborn unit.

    In October, Adara’s Global Leadership Team converged in Sydney, tasked with planning Adara’s strategy for the next three years.

  • 2016

    New School Begins Construction

    25th Anniversary

    Adara Partners passed $1 million of revenues raised from their work.

    The Temporary Learning Centre opened in Ghyangfedi, providing children with a place to learn while the new school was under construction.

    Members of the Adara team came together to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Kiwoko Hospital.

    Adara joined more than 13 other organisations to make a commitment – called ‘United for Oxygen: Oxygen and Pulse Oximetry in Ethiopia’ – through the Clinton Global Initiative to support expanded access to oxygen for women and children in Ethiopia.

  • 2015

    A year of change and a year of hope


    In April 2015, a massive earthquake hit Nepal, claiming the lives of nearly 9,000 people. The Adara team immediately sprang into action, launching mobile medical camps in and around Kathmandu. At the request of the Nepal Government, Adara also assisted with disaster relief in Ghyangfedi, a small community in Nuwakot district, northeast of Kathmandu.

    Later in the year, the Adara Global Leadership Team gathered to plan a strategy for rebuilding after the Nepal earthquake. It was decided Adara would continue our work in Ghyangfedi and would help build a new earthquake-resistant school.

    In June 2015, Adara’s newest business, Adara Partners launched. Adara’s Partners, is a top-tier corporate advisory firm. Its sole purpose is to deliver financial services expertise at the highest levels to clients, with fees generated on transactions going to directly benefit people living in extreme poverty.

    In September 2015, Adara stood with the global community at the United Nations General Assembly and made a public commitment to a fairer, more equitable world for women and newborns through Every Woman Every Child (EWEC).

    In September, Adara led a two-day workshop at Kiwoko Hospital, with 60 clinicians from all over East Africa and beyond. The mission was to discuss the development of the bCPAP device and its use in low resource settings. Afterwards, Adara, along with our partners at PATH, University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Kiwoko came together to continue to perfect a low cost bCPAP kit with air and oxygen blending capabilities that will be offered at a very low cost for babies in low resource settings all across the world.

  • 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.