The Van Leer Group Foundation’s origins lie with Bernard van Leer, a Dutch industrialist and philanthropist. In 1919, he started a packaging company in the Netherlands that developed into a world leader in the packaging industry. Royal Packaging Industries provided him with the resources to pursue his philanthropic ideals: to use his wealth for the benefit of others.
When he passed away in 1958, he had arranged that his business interests would continue to fuel his philanthropic activities. His wife Polly and their sons Wim and Oscar had already relinquished their inheritance rights and a humanitarian foundation had been established in 1949 in Lucerne, Switzerland.