During his professional career, Robert often experienced life in other countries. A qualified mechanical engineer, at one time he managed 170 people in a company specialising in heating and wastewater pumps. Robert grew up in a modest household and worked hard to earn his success. “I always worked even when I was at school,” he recalls, “That had a lasting effect on me”. He did not meet the love of his life Romy until he was 45 years of age. “I was in a train and suddenly there she was with her touring skis”. “Being an enthusiastic mountaineer myself, I simply had to speak to her”, says Robert with an impish grin.
Romy Erb grew up in Kleinbasel and worked primarily in the commercial sector. In the last seven years of her working life she found a job that was close to her heart: She helped au-pairs in French-speaking Switzerland find work, sometimes as far afield as London, Nice and Paris. “For that you need a lot of experience of life and empathy with young women,” she says.
“We don’t know what life has in store for us.”
The couple took early retirement several years ago and are now enjoying an active life to the full. They even considered working on aid projects themselves. “But only if I could have passed on my knowledge in a sustainable way”, says Robert Knobel. A good aid organisation does not invest in one-off projects and then simply disappear in a puff of smoke. It was that which impressed them about the Biovision approach; their projects disseminate sustainable knowledge for the longer term. They were also attracted by its size: “No-one in your organisation is a small cog in a big wheel”, they say.
The two of them still have lots of plans and are not ready to distribute their assets just yet. “We don’t know what life has in store for us and want to do as much as we can,” the coupls says. Both, however, want to leave some of their assets to worthwhile projects. “That gives us a good feeling: We have provided for our family and Biovision can make better use of some of our wealth than if it stayed wholly within our own immediate circle,” adds Romy: “Biovision is a splendid organisation with highly motivated staff – you sense that immediately. If I were still young, I would be keen to apply for an interesting position with Biovision,” she says with a laugh.