In 2011, the Tahija family foundation, Yayasan Tahija, in Indonesia, was considering various options in continuing its philanthropic work. Throughout its existence, the foundation had supported projects in education, health, social services, environmental conservation, and other areas, and had a reputation as one of the leading philanthropic foundations in Indonesia. Its projects included, among others, providing scholarships, promoting conversation, and improving educational infrastructure.
In the last several years, the foundation had funded programs to eliminate mosquitos and thus fight dengue fever, but these efforts had failed. The foundation now had to decide whether to abandon its efforts and tackle other pressing issues, or to stay with the fight against dengue fever using alternative methods.
Dengue fever affected a quarter of the world's population, with most of the afflicted in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Tahija family members involved in the foundation were intrigued by the World Mosquito Project, which espoused injecting a particular bacteria into mosquitos that would slow or stop the spread of the dengue virus. The methods were untested, but had a lot of promise.
There were safer bets: funding medical research or environmental causes, for example, but the foundation leaders believed eradicating dengue fever was an essential project. What should Yayasan Tahija do?