Better access to medications in Ghana, locally produced hygiene products from Rwanda and better sales channels for small farmers in the region, as well as an online education platform for young people in South Africa – ideas like these from African social entrepreneurs are accompanying students of the Ingolstadt School of Management at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. The action learning program that is implemented in collaboration with the Bayer Foundation is an integral part of the "Entrepreneurship and Innovation" specialization in the Master's degree program in Business Administration.
"The students are expected to evaluate the business models of the start-ups and identify room for improvement", explains Prof. Dr. André Habisch, who coordinates this study specialization. The African partner companies are founders whose business purpose serves the United Nations' sustainability goals in a special way and have been awarded the title of "Social Impact Start-up" by the Bayer Cares Foundation for this. In the project, KU students are networked with these impressive personalities to develop new impulses for the business models together within two courses. Some of the students also choose to pursue the topics further in their final theses. For the first time, the association SISTAC e.V. that promotes social innovation through academic education now honors selected Master's graduates for their innovative ideas.
One of them is Stefan Fuchs, who cooperated with Marlon Parker as founder of the South African online platform "zlat". This is aimed at (unemployed) young people who are rewarded for social commitment with a digital currency. The aim of the company is to offer Africa's youth, some of whom are destitute and without prospects, basic socio-economic security, to promote knowledge building, to present opportunities to gain initial work-related experience, and thus to provide access to opportunities for social advancement. Fuchs developed a certification process for the platform that trains users in job-relevant skills. "Due to the corona pandemic, we were unable to implement any of our learning programs that we normally offer as face-to-face courses to young people. In this situation, we were able to immediately implement the micro-learning model Stefan proposed: We issued more than 500,000 micro-certificates to youths across South Africa within six months", reports Parker, who has already been recognized as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
Marco Miglietta, also a Master's student, devoted himself to another social enterprise. From a seminar, he continued his cooperation with the online platform BISA, founded by Ghanaian software developer Raindolf Owusu. This platform offers people in remote regions the opportunity to ask doctors for advice via smartphone. In the seminar, Miglietta and fellow students initially developed ways to expand the pool of contact persons – for example, by including retired German doctors or experienced medical students before graduation. For his Master's thesis, Miglietta has now looked at how the platform can also improve the supply of medicines. "In Ghana, access to medicines is much more complicated. Not every pharmacy has a preparation available, prices are not transparent, and counterfeit drugs are in circulation", explains Miglietta. Together with Owusu's team, he has developed a new platform that customers can use to contact pharmacies online and that will probably be available as early as January.
Two other projects that will receive the SISTAC award are based in Rwanda. The student Van Tran has cooperated with the company Sanit Wing, which produces hygiene products based on avocados. Company founder Alex Nshimiyimana responded to the fact that hygiene products had to be imported at high prices until then. He also wanted to make a contribution to combating youth unemployment by promoting domestic production. Tran built a website, online shop, and social media presence for Sanit Wing to open up more sales channels for the company.
Another connection to Sanit Wing was established through the project of Lennart Gondermann, who worked together with the agricultural start-up Real Green Gold. This company produces avocados and fruit itself, but also offers small farmers market access. The long-term goal of Real Green Gold is to offer goods in certified organic quality in order to create a unique selling point compared to its competitors, and at the same time to raise sales margins to enable better living standards for producers. In his project, Gondermann was able to develop a monitoring system for the international requirements of organic farming certifications after a profound market and company analysis of Real Green Gold. The result is the Excel-based tool "OCMS" (Organic Certification Management System), which can be used to manage, evaluate and control the development of groups of small farmers towards a more organic agriculture.
The ceremony for the first SISTAC awards will take place on Friday, December 18, starting at 6 p.m. as an online event. In addition to Professor Habisch, the founders of the "Social Innovation through Academic Education" association include Florian Holste, managing director of the Ingolstadt-based management consultancy firm Achtzig20, and entrepreneur Dr. Bernd Abraham. To attend the award ceremony, free registration is required in advance via www.eventbrite.de. The event can be found on the platform under the search term "Sistac".