Who are we?

We still consider ourselves newlyweds. We met in 2010 while recovering from the losses of our first spouses. Meeting online, we were both looking for travel buddies. Little did we know where that common passion for travel would lead. Since 2010, we’ve traveled together to 20 countries on five continents. Each adventure shaping and sharpening our understanding of the world’s wonders, challenges and opportunities.

As both successful and experienced career executives, we were also attracted by the other’s business accomplishments and acumen. We had a strong sense of partnership from the beginning and knew that together we could accomplish even more if we could find a common passion. Collaborating on the sale of Neil’s business was an opportunity to leverage our complementary strengths, including the negotiation of an exit that benefitted both employees and customers. The result from the sale provided funds that could be used to address some of the challenges we witnessed through our travels.

Why we founded Bertzman Social Ventures?

The name Bertzman is a mash-up of our last names Berman and Heitzman. As a husband and wife team, Bertzman Social Ventures merges our passion with our professional experience.

We believe that pure non-profit, commercial or governmental models are inadequate to solve some intractable challenges. We also believe that solutions which target a specific social need and embed market-based incentives provide an opportunity for long-term, sustainable improvements. Our willingness to invest our time, talent and resources can hopefully make a small (or potentially large) difference in the world.

Why Water, Sanitation and Hygiene?

In our work and travels, we’ve witnessed the grinding poverty of people living at the base of the Maslow’s pyramid. Inadequate shelter, clothing, water, food and healthcare are serious obstacles to even a meager existence.

Access to clean water and sanitation, a given in the developed world, are often not available in the lower and middle-income countries. The lack of access leads to increased childhood deaths, girls missing out on educational opportunities and a loss of dignity and safety. While these are not sexy issues, these are solvable challenges that can be life-changing.

As a donor, we dipped our toes in the metaphorical water by funding our first well near Harare, Zimbabwe in 2012 through the Kuaba Foundation. Now, we are diving in head first. It is our hope that Bertzman Social Ventures can play a material role in addressing these challenges.