Making the world a little better with entrepreneurial spirit

Weinheim. August 14, 2014. Enactus, the world’s largest student organization, has set itself the target of making life on our planet more sustainable in social and environmental terms through entrepreneurial projects at the same time as bringing economic benefits for people who need help. With this aim in mind, 60,000 students, 450 companies and 1,600 universities throughout the world work hand-in-hand and form a global network. The students are supported by managers from the business and academic sectors. The Freudenberg Group has been a committed and reliable Enactus partner for more than 10 years – with some success; this year, the team from the University of Mannheim became National Champion and is taking part in the world championships in Beijing in October. The students are being advised by Cornelius Bossers, Vice-President North-West Europe, Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions.

The team from Mannheim won the title for two projects. The first project is “Intecreative”, a cultural cookbook where refugees can not only present recipes from their home countries but also report on their history and culture. With workshops on topics such as applications and curricula vitae, as well as assistance with learning the German language, asylum-seekers receive support with a view to initiating dialogue with other people, dismantling prejudices and getting off to a successful start on the labor market. The motto of the second project is “helping people escape”. At Bruchsal prison, team members built up a bicycle workshop where prisoners can assemble individual cycles from scrap and the remains of old bikes. The objective is to offer them opportunities for work and a new start when they are released from prison. Prisoners who have no access to work or training during their sentence are much more likely to reoffend following their release. Since production started in January 2014, more than 30 bicycles have been assembled by the prisoners and 22 have been sold.

A reliable sponsor
The Freudenberg Group has been a committed and reliable Enactus partner for more than 10 years. About 20 managers from the Group boost the quality of projects in Germany, China and the USA by acting as advisers. Freudenberg is also a sponsor of the organization. Many Enactus students write their undergraduate theses or complete internships with the Group, like Emily Azizy, who is leading the Mannheim team. “Enactus promotes values like entrepreneurial spirit and social responsibility. These are values that are essential for our company and for action in the future,” explains Dr. Klaus-Peter Meier, President and CEO of Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions and Member of the German Board of the student organization. “Freudenberg has been practicing these values as a family company for 165 years.”

The national Championship team
This year’s Enactus National Championship team from the University of Mannheim is being supported by Cornelius Bossers – from project selection through to team development and project organization. He provides advice at regular meetings with the team leaders. “At the beginning, the group was rather small and it was by no means easy to establish structures and set up projects. In the meantime, many successful new business ideas have been created.” He said that selection as the National Champion confirmed the successful work of the team, which focused on sustainability and social responsibility. Bossers has been the business adviser to the team since 2006. In October, the team will be flying to Beijing for the world championships. The Enactus group from Mannheim University includes about 150 students aged between 18 and 25. They are all visionaries who want to play their part in making the world a better place.

The team is always working on several projects in parallel; ideally, the students withdraw from a project after a few years and hand over the functioning business idea to one or more partners. This is just what happened in the case of the “company biscuit” project. With the support of Lebenshilfe Mannheim, a local charity for the disabled, people with disabilities produce biscuits with individual company logos. The students optimized biscuit production, determined the ideal price and developed marketing measures. Since the project was launched in 2010, more than 12,000 biscuits have been sold.