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14.03.19

WFI students develop management solutions for international social entrepreneurs

Developing forward-looking ideas in order to improve the lives of millions of people – this is the objective of a group of international social entrepreneurs who are supported in their work by students of the KU Ingolstadt School of Management (WFI). Some of the students are enrolled in the Master’s degree program in Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation. The group is led by Prof. Dr. André Habisch (Professorship of Christian Social Ethics and Social Policy) and cooperates with the “Bayer Cares Foundation”. This foundation provides financial assistance for entrepreneurs for a duration of 24 months to support them in the development of their business ideas. “Within the project, the students mainly work on identifying particular challenges in the management of the start-ups – for example in the field of financing or marketing – and on developing suitable solutions”, explains Professor Habisch.


The student groups used the kick-off event in Berlin for intense discussions with the social entrepreneurs who are supported by the “Bayer Cares Foundation”. (Photo: Vosen/upd)

The student groups used the kick-off event in Berlin for intense discussions with the social entrepreneurs who are supported by the “Bayer Cares Foundation”. (Photo: Vosen/upd)

(From left) Sarah Kühne, Manuela Kössler, Florian Wehle and Marco Miglietta are some of the Master’s students from the Ingolstadt School of Management who have identified management challenges in several social enterprises and recommended corresponding solutions. (Photo: Schulte Strathaus/Press Office)

(From left) Sarah Kühne, Manuela Kössler, Florian Wehle and Marco Miglietta are some of the Master’s students from the Ingolstadt School of Management who have identified management challenges in several social enterprises and recommended corresponding solutions. (Photo: Schulte Strathaus/Press Office)

One of the social entrepreneurs receiving financial support is the Ghanaian software developer Raindolf Owusu, who wants to establish the app “Bisa” in his home country. This app will enable people in remote regions to make first contact with doctors. “Bisa” is the Ghanaian word for “questions”. Statistics estimate that in Ghana, there is just one doctor for approx. 8,500 people. In addition, many people in the country live in regions which are more than one day’s walk away from the nearest doctor or hospital. This means that they not only suffer from poor access to fundamental health and medical services, but they also have to orientate themselves and know which doctor they can turn to before they set out. “Ghana has a very young population and smartphones are widely spread and also used in everyday life, for example for making payments. This means that you can reach a large number of people via an app”, explains the Master’s degree student Marco Miglietta. Raindolf Owusu entrusted him and other fellow students, among them Florian Wehle, with the task of finding a way to also include doctors in Germany as initial contacts for Bisa users in order to reduce waiting times. In their research, the students found out that especially retired doctors and medical students are a suitable target group for Bisa as they might be more likely to participate in the initiative. With this in mind, the students recorded a video in which they give a brief overview of Bisa and its background to support the operator of the app in approaching prospective volunteers. “We are always looking for doctors who would like to support us. The work carried out by the students, which we incorporate in our concept, is a valuable contribution when it comes to finding and recruiting additional practitioners”, emphasizes Bisa founder Raindolf Owusu.

Another WFI student group of six has established a collaboration with the Berlin-based company “Coolar”, who currently develop a new cooling system for use in developing countries – mainly for adequate storage of drugs and vaccines. While conventional refrigerators depend on a reliable, stable power supply and use compressors which wear quickly in harsh conditions, the Coolar devices function without electrical energy and movable parts. Instead, the inventors of the system make use of the cooling produced during evaporation and use a special gel in order to keep the cooling circuit up and running. The Master’s degree student Sarah Kühne and her team have supported the project by analyzing whether the production should be entirely taken over by the developers themselves or whether parts of the production process can be outsourced. They spoke to experts from the industry and developed the recommendation of having the individual parts of the cooling device assembled in the country of destination in order to also involve the local population in the production chain. In addition, they calculated the most cost efficient way of production and set up a purchasing strategy. “In particular aid organizations and governments are potential buyers of this cooling system”. This is what Sarah Kühne and her team found out during talks with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) which is supported by the German government. “My team and I were really impressed by the students’ work. They make it a lot easier for us to find a production strategy and make a well-founded pre-selection of potential business partners and contractual models”; this is how Coolar co-founder Christoph Göller summarizes the collaboration with the WFI students.

By working with social entrepreneurs, the young researchers were also able to define aims and objectives for their own future careers: “This exchange showed me that it is indeed possible to do good and earn money with it. And I was able to apply my knowledge in a practical context. I could imagine working in a start-up company myself.”, says Kühne. Maintaining close ties to industry and practice as well as imparting an ethical sense of responsibility are both aspects of the KU which were praised by participants in the most recent study quality monitor for which 1,100 KU students were questioned. They have high expectations when it comes to the university imparting values such as an ethical sense of responsibility and the ability for critical, interdisciplinary thinking. At the same time, they feel that their university places greater importance on promoting such values than other universities in the national average. 70 per cent of KU participants in the survey felt that their university was particularly committed to encourage autonomous action and independence while only 58 per cent at other universities thought so. In addition, KU students said they were very satisfied with the way in which the KU promoted students’ ability to work in a team; the national average in this section only amounted to 40 per cent.

About the study quality monitor:

Since 2007, the German Center for Higher Education Research has been issuing the study quality monitor on an annual basis in collaboration with the Research Group on Higher Education at the University of Konstanz. This representative survey reveals students’ views on how study conditions and quality of studies evolve over time. The most recent evaluation of the study quality monitor shows that KU students are significantly more satisfied with their studies than fellow students at other universities. They particularly praise teaching commitment, close contact among the students, an excellent practical focus in courses and that the KU also conveys an ethical sense of responsibility and teaches the ability to work in a team.