TdS is an apolitical and non-denominational Association created on November 8, 2007 in Geneva. It is recognized as a public utility and is exempt from taxes. Donors benefit from a tax deduction.
TdS is registered in the legal form of a company. The change of status on the Laotian territory was necessary in order to introduce our current model based on a social entrepreneurship concept. All the funds generated by our activities are reinvested in our projects to cover operational costs and ensure the medium-term sustainability of our actions and structure. We work in collaboration with the various local departments involved in our projects. We ensure transparency on all the processes of actions and projects carried out in Laos.
Continuous collaboration is maintained with the Embassy of Laos based in Geneva.
Our project was presented to the Lao Embassy based in Grand-Saconnex. The relations maintained with the competent Laotian authorities are precious to us. They are enthusiastic about our concept and the sustainability it will ensure.
We work in harmony with Lao cultural codes. Indeed, ancient traditions are still very strong in Laos. Tds makes it a point of honour to respect the customs and habits of rural communities as well as the hierarchical rules.
Each of our projects is the result of the villagers’ request, (…) who determine their own needs.
At the origin of the Association
Melanie Pellaud Zermatten – Founder
After a trip to Asia in 2003 during which Mélanie discovered Laos, she returned to Switzerland with the ambition to found an Association to help isolated communities. On November 8, 2007, she created the Terre des Sourires (TdS) Association in Geneva with the main mission of fighting the phenomenon of poverty in the remote areas of Laos. For almost two years, in partnership with Dr. Soli Makohliso, she has developed a new model that combines philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.
It is with passion and love for Laos and its inhabitants that Mélanie pursues her work. With strong skills in Project Management, Mélanie brings her optimism and energy to all the actions carried out by TdS.
Davon Tran – Co-founder
Originally from Laos, Davone had to escape her country when she was 11 years old. She lived for more than two years in a refugee camp in Thailand before she was able to obtain political refugee status and return to Swiss territory. With her strength of character and desire to succeed, Davone was able to rebuild her life here. After 30 years, she felt the need to help her country of origin and her way crossed Melanie’s path. A beautiful meeting in humanity that allowed them to move forward together to intervene with the remote communities of Laos. Co-founder of the Association, she has been of great help to us in launching our projects in Laos.
Solomzi (Soli) Makohliso
Soli Makohliso is a biomedical engineer and international entrepreneur. His current professional interests are in innovation and entrepreneurship for sustainable impact, where he currently serves as the Deputy Director of the EssentialTech Centre at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Prior to that he spent about 18 years in start-ups and entrepreneurship. He also held advisory positions to the South African government in innovation and nanotechnolgy, as wells as served as the advisor to the Swiss government and leader for developing the strategy for the ongoing Bilateral Cooperation with South Africa in science, technology & innovation.
Our Advisory Capacity
Alexandre Cantacuzène is the Founder& Executive Chairman of AJC Advisors DWC-LLC, a Management Consultancy firm, based in Dubai, UAE. He is also a Non-Executive Director/Senior Advisor with different Middle Eastern food and beverages companies operating in the Middle East and Africa.
Previously, he spent 42 years, of which 30 in Africa and Middle East, as an international staff with Nestlé SA, the World’s leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company, where he held Sales, Marketing, General Management as well as top Senior Executive positions. His last two assignments were Chairman& CEO of Nestlé Middle East, based in Dubai and, finally, Senior Vice President Nestlé SA for the Middle East and Africa, based in the Nestlé HO in Vevey, Switzerland. We are pleased to be able to count on his support and precious advice in our projects. An invaluable value for our team.
Soli Makohliso – President
Mélanie Pellaud Zermatten –Chief Executive Officer
Natacha Grasselli Erhabor – General Secretary
Davone Tran– Co-Founder
Account Management and Audit organ
Account Management : OneFid Sàrl – St-Prex
Audit Organ of the Accounts : OneAudit Sàrl – St-Prex
Mélanie Pellaud Zermatten – Director
Jérôme Grenard – Responsable of water project
Natacha Grasselli Erhabor – Secretary
Florian Zermatten – Digital Marketing
Marica Cantacuzène Zermatten – Promotion
Claude Pellaud – Cameraman
Gilbert Rossion – Journaliste
Max Zermatten – Photographer
Ly Chongheuly – Project Manager
TdS is pleased to have Ly as Project Manager among its team. With a Bachelor’s degree in French and a Master’s degree obtained in 2013 at the University of Lyon, Ly has achieved so far a great professional career in the world of finance, but also within our NGO partner PEMM, as well as in a Luang Prabang Tourism Agency. Ly speaks fluently French, Lao, Hmong dialect, English and Thai. He has excellent analytical skills and an entrepreneurial ability. His rigour in his work, his professionalism, his knowledge of Laotian bureaucratic procedures, of the remote communities of the Province of Oudomxay, his facility of communication and his expertise in the various computer tools are valuable assets for TdS.
Longmoua Houaxay – IT Manager and Project Monitoring
With a strong background in IT, Longmoua works with our Project Manager, Ly Chongheuly, particularly on the various administrative tasks with local authorities. His professional experience is also a great asset for our team in all matters related to IT and project monitoring.
Dr. Phetsamone Indara Tran – Coorindator and Partner
Dr. Phetsamone Indara was born in Muang Xay and belongs to the Lao Lu ethnic group. Since 2005, he is the head of the Ophthalmology Unit at Oudomxay Provincial Hospital. With an outstanding personal and professional background, he does a remarkable job within his department. Outside of his professional hours, Dr. Phetsamone provides support to the poorest and most needy people. His generosity, skills, empathy, professionalism, charisma, strength and continued hope in all the actions he undertakes make him an exceptional person. More than a local partner, Dr. Phetsamone brings us his precious support in all our process activities and shares with us his wise advice. We are deeply touched by his involvement in our current project, his kindness and the time he devotes to us.
LY Banchongphanith – Engineering Technician
Ly Banchongphanith is born in Laos. He lived for more than 10 years in France. He speaks fluent Lao, Vietnamese and French. Ly has skills in drinking water supply projects as well as in clean energy. He is a great asset to our team.
Yaethor Vaporthor– Kiosk Manager
Yaethor is a resident of the Ban Nahom area. With a background in IT, he professionally manages the various administrative tasks of the water kiosk, as well as all the activities required to run the water kiosk.
Khamhuck Phonexaysengmanee– Kiosk employee
Khamhuck is also a resident of the Ban Nahom area. Previously a carpenter, Khamhuck works diligently in all the tasks required for the smooth running of the water kiosk.
Peuples et Montagnes du Mékong
Peuples et Montagnes du Mékong has been specialising in the field of health since 2011. An association of international solidarity that works for access to health among the ethnic groups of northern Laos. They set up training courses provided by occidental doctors and addressed to Lao health personnel and are concerned about the environment in which they work.
A partnership between TdS and Peuples et Montagnes du Mékong highlights the coherence of such a collaboration. We are already looking forward to moving forward together to offer the most isolated villages of Laos a better future.
VON DUY KANH
Founded in 2014, VO DUY KANH is a Laotian company based in the province of Oudomxay and specialized in drinking water supply projects in Laos. As an expert in rural and remote areas, Vo Due Kanh offers services that meet a common objective: to provide long-term access to drinking water.
INDARA is a Laotian company based in Oudomxay. Known by the authorities of the Province of Oudomxay, the company Indara is solicited in many construction projects, in the public and private domain. Through its involvement in development projects, the company is very successful.