Employees and Social Investment
Relevance: Seeking to ensure a successful future for people and communities around the world, as well as SAP
Our vision is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Nowhere does this vision come to life more than in our social investments. When a child is able to go to school and explore the world through technology, new possibilities are created for change. When that child grows up to have the confidence to create a different future, the possibilities multiply. And when that future includes starting up a new business, spurring job creation and economic growth, the cycle begins all over again.
In designing our social investment strategy, we have looked at how we can use our expertise to create the greatest positive impact. We focus on enhancing education and supporting entrepreneurship, both of which are critical to ensuring a successful future for society as well as SAP.
Approach: Creating opportunity and economic growth by supporting education and emerging entrepreneurs
Education is fundamental to people’s ability to fulfill their potential. And in today’s interconnected world, technology skills provide entry to the modern economy. At the same time, youth who become educated may become our future employees or customers, thereby supporting our business success.
Emerging entrepreneurs play an equally vital role in driving economic growth. Such entrepreneurs have a great new business idea that is poised to go to scale but require capital, technology, mentorship or other resources to succeed. They are at the forefront of addressing societal needs while building successful ventures that create new jobs. For SAP, emerging entrepreneurs may become our future customers, and their ideas spark our own innovation. They also help create a stronger business environment that benefits us as well as others.
We aim to be as strategic and innovative in addressing social challenges as we are in the rest of our business. For this reason, we call on our talent, technology, and capital to multiply our impact. Specifically, we focus on:
- Engaging our talent – We tap the skills of our employees to drive new approaches.
- Leveraging our technology – We provide software tools to nonprofits to accelerate their ability to serve their mission.
- Investing our capital – We invest in innovative strategies for creating economic opportunity and long-term change.
Our 2012 results
|Volunteer hours||about 130,000|
|Technology donations to non-governmental organizations||about 1,200|
|Capital investments in € millions||about 18.4|
|Lives impacted||about one million|
Achievements and challenges: Creating partnerships to foster a business environment in which entrepreneurs can succeed
In 2012, we began implementing initiatives to support emerging entrepreneurs, starting in Brazil and India. Our top priority was to understand what they need to succeed, from access to capital to a favorable regulatory environment. Recognizing that we cannot act alone, we cultivated partnerships with leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are experts not just in working with entrepreneurs, but in creating a business climate that supports their success.
The launch of our new Social Sabbatical initiative furthered our strategy. Through the initiative, international, cross-functional teams of “high potential” employees tackle complex business challenges in a unique collaboration with NGOs and emerging entrepreneurs. To date, our teams have worked in Brazil, India, and South Africa on such projects as developing a communications plan for an organization that helps waste and recycling workers move out of poverty.
Other highlights of 2012 included:
- Partnering with Ashoka Changemakers to run a global entrepreneurship competition. We awarded four winners U.S.$10,000 each, a technology donation, and networking opportunities with SAP executives and customers.
- Expansion of ELife in Colombia, a program that provides girls with key life and entrepreneurial skills
- Educational programs in more than 35 countries, with a focus on youth entrepreneurship, workforce development and STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math)
2013 and beyond: Working toward long-term change and developing a methodology to measure our impact
Despite our progress, we see opportunity to do even more and recognize that change will not always come easily. It will take time to help emerging entrepreneurs succeed and even longer to scale our approach. The hurdles that entrepreneurs face are complex, requiring that we build a strong network of partners. In addition, we must localize educational engagements throughout the world, tailoring each to different cultures and needs. One significant area in which we aim to expand our efforts is how we measure our impact to ensure we are making strategic investments.
To address these opportunities and challenges, we are taking a long-term approach while working toward key milestones, such as the creation of partnerships with leading NGOs. We give our regions the flexibility to develop educational programs that best suit local needs. We are also working to develop a methodology for measuring our impact both on society and SAP.
Most of all, we are focused – as is the rest of our business – on creating lasting impact by helping others pursue their own path to success. We strongly believe that people in communities around the world have the ideas, passions, and talents to create a better future. By working along with them, we can fulfill our own vision and build the foundation for our own future success as well.
The Power of Small
Last year, SAP ran a global entrepreneurship competition, called "The Power of Smallthe power of smallThe impact that something small in size or scope – and seemingly insignificant – can have as a powerful agent of change and growth." with Ashoka Changemakers. Each finalist had a unique story to tell about how a new business can change the landscape in underserved communities, spurring economic opportunity and growth. One such story belongs to Shivani Siroya, CEO and founder of InVenture, which helps entrepreneurs gain access to financial services in India. SAP plans to support InVenture as it moves forward, whether through our network of experts and mentors, our technology, or other resources. Here Siroya describes her efforts to date, talking about the importance of credit scores, the challenge of changing people’s behavior, and the thrill of working 20-hour days.
What made you start InVenture?
The impetus was wanting to help businesses grow and realizing that there are two main barriers. One is financial access – being able to shop around for the loan you want. Second, people do not necessarily have accounting tools to manage money. I wanted to help facilitate financial inclusion. The tool we developed, called InSight, allows us to capture data so people can manage their money. And through the data we can create credit scores.
We are targeting individuals trying to grow their businesses. It’s that next step for them after micro-finance, with loans above US$1,000.
When was the moment you knew you had to do this?
I had worked for the United Nations and interviewed 75 micro-borrowers. There was this lightbulb moment of realizing that we hadn’t created the foundation for financial services in these markets. When I would talk to financial institutions, they would tell me these individuals were too risky. It felt really unfair.
One of the women I interviewed – she used to sell street food. Every lunchtime, there was a huge line for her stand, and she would run out of toppings. I’d ask her, ‘Why don’t you get enough?’ and she said, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that, and I don’t have enough money.’ People were willing to bet on me, but in some ways I had less experience and proof-of-concept than she did. If you have a credit score, you can go to many banks and they will want to lend to you.
How did you get the idea off the ground?
After the UN, I returned to investment banking, where I’d worked earlier in my career. I started InVenture at the same time. I slept maybe three hours a day and had the most energy of my life. I e-mailed 2,000 people on LinkedIn and did phone calls in my car whenever I could.
What energized you?
It’s that idea of trying to solve a problem. I didn’t think I was starting a business.
You formally launched in 2011. Where is InVenture now?
We have successfully developed our prototype and went into beta last May. We have partners paying for our services in India. Now we’re starting to understand how we can start to scale.
You’re based in both the United States and India – what has that been like?
I’m Indian and grew up both in the United States and in India. What has been interesting is that my family is from North India and all our work has been in South India. The language is different – it is like entering a new country. For me that’s really refreshing.
What do you think people may not realize about the people you serve?
Most individuals do not think as much into the future as in America. If you do not have access to loans you do not say, “I’ll get US$20,000 for my business.” How do we provide that kind of hope and get them to dream bigger?
How does being a for-profit square with your social purpose?
We became certified as a B-Corporation and see our responsibility as ensuring profitability while maximizing social impact. We want to show people that businesses can be successful while having a social mission.
Did you always think you’d become an entrepreneur?
I think so. I’ve had a very over-active imagination.
Can you give an example?
I wanted to be a fashion designer for shoes at one point and created a portfolio of like 150 shoes. I would grab on to ideas. I love working with teams too – I like innovation and doing something new and collaboration.
Is that what you love about being an entrepreneur?
It’s the problem solving and the people. I’m not sitting at a desk all day and it’s inspirational to meet lots of people and learn from them.
What’s most difficult?
The lack of routine. I struggle with organizational management.
What do you wish you’d known before starting InVenture?
That it’s not going to happen overnight. There are 4.5 billion people affected by this issue. That is what excites me, but you need to realize this is a marathon.
What has been InVenture’s biggest challenge?
Users adopting your productproductA non-versioned high-level view of software from a software logistics perspective. It is a “bracket” that contains corresponding software product versions. in their daily life. How do you change behavior? We think, “We’re designing this amazing mobile accounting tool.” But do we do accounting every day? Accounting is really boring. We have to prove that by doing this, people’s lives will be better.
How can a company such as SAP help?
A start-up learning from a huge company is actually the best thing. At some point SAP started out where we were. For us to learn about how you do strategic planning or supply chain management would help us scale much faster.
What advice would you give to other would-be entrepreneurs?
Reach out to as many people as possible to talk about your idea and do not be afraid to ask for advice. I say all the time, ‘These are the things I’m really confused about.’
How do you see yourself evolving as a leader?
I’m trying to let go a little more and delegate. And I want to understand the psychology of teams.
Where do you see InVenture in five years?
We’re projecting that we’ll have about 10 million customers and will be working more globally. Our goal is not only to bring awareness to credit scoring but the importance of managing money. People really need to understand where their money goes.
Social Sabbaticals: Collaborating to Create Change, Develop Our Future Leaders, and Support Our Long-Term Strategy
Based in inner-city Pretoria, the PEN-Tekanô program can seem a world away from SAP. It is part of a non-profit organization founded amidst the dramatic political and demographic change sweeping South Africa. Its parent organization, known simply as PEN, serves thousands of children and provides 55,000 meals a month, offering counseling, job training and educational services. PEN-Tekanô, one of its many programs, has a vision that is especially bold: to help entrepreneurs succeed so they can support a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.
In the fall of 2012 (or springtime in Pretoria), PEN-Tekanô became a testing ground for SAP’s Social Sabbatical initiative, highlighting new possibilities for collaboration among those coming from seemingly separate worlds. The initiative sends high-performing SAP employees to work closely with non-profit organizations or entrepreneurs for a month-long project. Employees come back not just newly inspired, but with an enhanced ability to lead, work across sectors, and come up with innovative solutions. The organizations benefit from fresh input and expertise that helps them become more effective and achieve sustainable success.
Last year, SAP launched Social Sabbatical pilots in Brazil, India, and South Africa, sending 30 participants from around the world to work on a total of nine projects. Like PEN-Tekanô, many aligned with our focus on cultivating entrepreneurship to spur economic growth and opportunity. They also fit our broader strategy of creating social change while supporting the business goals of SAP. Entrepreneurs not only address societal needs and create jobs, but they may become our future customers or spark our own innovation. In addition, they contribute to building thriving communities that benefit SAP as well as others.
Using human-centered design to address complex challenges
The four SAP team members who worked with PEN-Tekanô were from Germany, India, and the United States, and didn’t know each other before arriving in South Africa. They quickly learned that PEN-Tekanô was up against hard realities threatening its survival. A cornerstone of the program is to provide entrepreneurs – from tailors to driving instructors to security consultants – with subsidized office space. But many routinely fell behind on rent, straining the resources of the organization. And their lack of training in marketing and bookkeeping was undermining their success.
Adopting a human-centered design approach of “hear, create, and deliver,” the SAP team started by interviewing the entrepreneurs. “We wanted to interview as many as possible,” says Suresh Ramanathan, senior principal at SAP America, who works in our Newtown Square office. “We asked them, ‘What is holding you back from paying rent?’ among other questions. We collected information about their pain points and desires, where they want to take their business over the next three to five years.”
Many turned out to be “survival entrepreneurs,” meaning they were focused on meeting basic needs and did not have a long-term, profitable business model. They also feared that if they indicated they had the money to pay rent, they would be asked to move on.
For Jaco Smith, who runs PEN-Tekanô, one of the most intriguing recommendations from the SAP team was to offer positive incentives such as discounts – rather than penalties – to encourage rent payments. “We had never considered incentivizing people,” says Smith, who notes that rent collection has since improved significantly. Martha Venter, coordinator of marketing at PEN, adds that the SAP team “brought the perspective that it doesn’t matter how big or small you are – you need to strategically put systems in place to strengthen the business.”
From better training to becoming an incubator
The SAP team suggested that PEN-Tekanô enhance its training and promotion of the businesses. Another idea was for the entrepreneurs to select representatives to bring issues to Smith’s attention – a change that has saved him time. And the organization is now holding “forum meetings” for the entrepreneurs to come together. “We want them talking more about their business challenges,” says Smith. “Slowly but surely, we’re getting there.”
Ramanathan was especially interested in how PEN-Tekanô could evolve over time into an incubator, as well as a renter of “virtual office space” for those wanting temporary access to its training and community. He has already exchanged email with Smith and aims to stay in touch. “It’s been wonderful communicating with the team and having them as my sounding board,” says Smith. “They know my program better than anyone.”
Future projects: Supporting organizations throughout the world
In 2013, we will expand our Social Sabbatical initiative to include 50 SAP employees on projects in Brazil, China, India, and South Africa. What we have learned from PEN-Tekanô is that a new kind of collaboration is not just possible, but vital to ensuring a sustainable future, for both society and SAP.
“The way they communicated was extremely valuable to me,” says Smith of the SAP team. “They were very sensitive and constructive. We had challenging conversations about how we could improve the project.”
Suresh says that he, too, came away with new insights, learning about his strengths and weaknesses. “This was a unique opportunity to support a team with diverse backgrounds,” he says. “I am better prepared now if I get a people management role.” In addition, exposure to a non-profit in a developing country reminded him that “we should all try to do more with less.” A final lesson, about the value of trust, came from working closely with Smith. “Once I earn my customer’s trust,” Ramanathan observes, “they will begin to engage more and I can better perform my job.”
Changing Lives with Music and Dance: How SAP software Is Supporting a Unique Organization in Brazil
The ingredients of success for Meninos do Morumbi seem immediately obvious to anyone who has seen its world-class performances, which have attracted attention from the likes of U.S. presidents, the British prime minister, and Madonna. The music and dance troupe, based in São Paulo, brings magic to the stage. Its expert drumming is matched by an infectious energy that turns choreography into deeply felt expression. The beaming faces of the young people who have made Meninos impossible to forget tell a story of personal potential unleashed.
But behind its performances is a less obvious story of success – one that involves far more than music and dance. The founder of Meninos, Flavio Pimenta, started the group out of his garage and has since reached 14,000 young people. His vision is to help them thrive and find their way to a successful future, no matter how challenging their circumstances. In addition to music and dance, the organization offers a wide range of support – from fresh meals to counseling, arts classes, sports, and computer science training.
This vision has turned Meninos into a sort of community hub, one that faces all the challenges of an organization that seeks to provide services on a large but personal scale. Among its needs: software to simplify its ability to understand the young people who walk through its doors so that it can serve them even more effectively. We donated the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence OnDemand solutionsolutionSAP solutions enable a customer to meet a challenge or take advantage of an opportunity and are built or assembled by flexibly combining SAP applications and other SAP software. The solutions may include support for best business practices and be aided by to help address this need, with information on each student now only a click away.
“It’s so important to understand what happens with these kids all the time,” says Pimenta, who frequently taps into the data on his tablet. “Before we got this software, the process was very slow. Now we can take action more quickly when it is needed.” For example, Meninos may offer a young person counseling to cope with a parent who has lost a job, or step in to support their success in school.
Deploying our technology and talent to help young people gain the services they need
In addition, the software supports another important function by allowing Meninos to gain insights into where its services are most needed. What kinds of programs would best help young people prepare for the future? How could their education and training be enhanced to prepare them for work? Where are they struggling and what are their strengths? Meninos maintains numerous partnerships with universities and other organizations to offer everything from family counseling to a course on the environment.
For SAP, providing our technology to organizations that support young people in gaining the education, skills training and other support they need to succeed is one of the pillars of our social investment strategy. We have also provided Meninos with the expertise of our employees, who oversaw the implementation of SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand. Says Pimenta, “We told SAP what we wished for, and we built it together. It was co-creation.” From the SAP side, the collaboration was led by Silvio Sherveninas, education sales manager in Training Sales.
Another SAP employee who has become a regular in the Meninos offices, Elisabete Luz, says that she does not view our relationship with the group as charitable. Instead, it is a partnership. “We help them, they help us,” says Luz, an IT business application consultant who has provided Meninos with training and user support. “This kind of project brings results for everyone – I had the opportunity to develop my skills. It also just changes your energy and makes you feel motivated.” The troupe regularly performs at SAP events in Brazil.
Creating a future full of possibility
Pimenta is talking with SAP employees about extending the group’s use of our software to include the SAP Business OneSAP Business OneApplication designed especially for small businesses with up to 100 employees, providing a single, integrated solution for managing the entire business across financials, sales, customer relationships, purchasing, inventory, analytics, and operations. application, which would help manage its finances. He notes that cloud-based technology helps the organization stay connected, with everyone able to access the same information. The ease of use has also helped the group stay on top of its increasingly demanding travel and performance schedule. Pimenta notes that Meninos recently performed with the University of Notre Dame from Indiana and had to organize a 10-day trip for 50 students. “We had to arrange a lot of activities, passports, food and accommodations,” he says. “The software helped there too.”
Our vision at SAP is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Meninos is doing just that. Whether on stage or behind the scenes, its impact is deep and lasting. “Flavio wants to help the children, not just musically or even economically, but to think differently,” says Luz. “He wants to motivate them.”
Pimenta is quick to offer success stories, telling of one young woman who joined the group 11 years ago from a favela, where she coped with severe poverty. She wound up getting an MBA and now manages the organization. “Everybody here is the same inside this building,” Pimenta says. “No one pays anything to be here. People belong here. When I started 15 years ago, my thought was, ‘Music can create the possibility of change.’”
Supporting a New Generation in Egypt: Preparing Youth to Become Entrepreneurs or Succeed in the Private Sector
SAP has nine offices in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, from Egypt to Saudi Arabia to Kuwait. Our social investments focus on job creation and skill development, especially for young people, whose future success is essential to building strong economies. In 2012, we provided support to a new initiative based out of Cairo and run by PlaNet Finance, a French non-governmental organization (NGO), in partnership with a local Egyptian NGO. Directed at empowering youth, the initiative will provide what is all too rare: training to build the practical know-how, soft skills, and business management expertise to become an entrepreneur or join the private sector.
Below we talk with Ahmed Fahmy, project and development officer for PlaNet Finance in Cairo, who says that the young people targeted by the initiative are the reason to feel optimistic about the region’s future.
What is the mission of your organization?
To fight poverty through micro-finance services. It’s not just about securing loans for the poor – it’s also a matter of providing non-financial services like marketing support. It’s teaching micro-loan recipients how to manage their project successfully.
Where do you focus your efforts?
The organization has worked in 80 countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.
What problem are you addressing with this project?
High youth unemployment and the mismatch of the market. There are few training services to help young people fit the requirements of the private sector. We have job opportunities, but the young people who graduate often lack practical experience.
Why is youth unemployment so high?
One reason is demographics – our average birth rate is three or four children per woman, and the labor market could not absorb all these numbers. Universities are very good in theory but not practice, with vocational training centers limited. Egypt is one of those countries with brain drain – we have many great minds who either go to Gulf countries or emigrate to the United States or elsewhere.
Has the political unrest made the situation worse?
Much worse, because in the last two years, many companies and industries have closed down. The construction sector in Egypt is now almost dead. Another sector deeply affected is tourism.
What is the project’s overall goal?
To contribute to youth economic and social inclusion through self-employment and employment services. The project – called MY STEP -- is two-fold. Some of the youth will be trained to be micro-entrepreneurs, to successfully run their own businesses. And the others will receive technical, business and financial training to find regular employment in the private sector. We’ve chosen two deprived areas to focus on in the Cairo region, Meet Okba and Dar El-Salam. They both have a great number of youth who are educated but unemployed. In total, we are planning to reach 250 young people and their families.
Why focus on youth and entrepreneurship?
The revolution was led mainly by young people, who went out in the streets because they didn’t see any future. I’ve talked with taxi drivers who are university graduates but cannot find a job or do not have the capital to run their own enterprise. An entrepreneur is not only building a business to help himself, he is a potential employer to others. It’s like a chain.
What challenges do youth entrepreneurs face?
The main one is practical experience. I have met so many people who have a good idea but have not tried something before. Many people fear the risk. They need to be supported to get on the right track.
What kind of training will they receive?
They will get technical training – such as a young plumber will be trained in a vocational training center. He will also receive management training and financial education to calculate his cash flow, forecast his profits, deal with customers and so on. A young person opening a small grocery shop will get training on what papers he needs to run his business, where to open his grocery to avoid the competition, and the best sources of his wholesale goods.
Where are you with the project currently?
So far, we have been laying the groundwork for the trainings to start in a few months. We are also finalizing a survey of the labor market to see what the needs are. Then we will be able to select and screen the youth who will benefit from the project.
Is this a new model?
PlaNet Finance has done a similar project in Morocco and it was very successful. It is innovative in the sense that at least 50% of the target youth have to be women and we are taking an environmentally friendly approach. We will not train young people for jobs that expose them to dangerous chemicals, for example.
What is the time frame?
Two years, but we have been delayed because it is politically very unstable at the moment. There are still ongoing protests.
How is SAP supporting the project?
SAP and PlaNet Finance have a long-standing relationship. Our IT software solutions are all SAP products. The activities where you will really see impacts on people will be the trainings – SAP is helping to fund these activities and could even give trainings itself. The Middle East is one of the areas that has witnessed the explosion of IT enterprises. One other activity where SAP is extremely needed is the development of a database to match companies with young people. This would facilitate our work tremendously.
What makes you optimistic about the future in the region?
I feel very optimistic because it cannot be worse than the last 30 years. The gap between rich and poor has exploded, inflation is growing, and many people do not see any positive prospects for their lives. I know the aspirations of Egyptians, and what inspires me are the small success stories you come across.
Can you offer any examples?
I have seen many young people doing projects like rooftop planting in slums or opening a sports academy for street children or opening micro-enterprises and helping families. It’s these small stories that you do not read so often in the newspaper. They give you real hope that things are developing in the right direction.