SAP volunteers skills, expertise to grow Ethiopian social enterprises

SAP today announced the five social enterprises that will benefit from its 2019 Social Sabbatical, to be held in Ethiopia between September and October in the run-up to the Social Entrepreneurship World Forum, which will be hosted in Addis Ababa from 23-25 October

SAP's Social Sabbatical, a portfolio of global pro bono volunteering programmes, takes highly-skilled SAP employees from around the world and connects them with resource-constrained social enterprises and non-profit organisations.

This year's programme will see a diverse group of employees provide different skills and business expertise, to help the organisations solve concrete business problems and support businesses growth for the following 5 social enterprises in Ethiopia:

1. Timret Lehiwot Ethiopia, which supports marginalised and hard-to-reach children by providing economic, environmental and social services;
2. Whiz Kids Workshop which helps children improve their holistic learning competence by enriching their lives through educational media;
3. OmniTech Consulting which provides design thinking and entrepreneurship training to increase the problem-solving skills of kids, especially girls; 
4. Ellilta Women at Risk (EWAR) which helps women enslaved in sex trafficking to escape to a new life; and
5. VitaBite Nutrition, provides nutritional information to parents and NGOs with the aim of supporting the first one thousand days of a child's development.

Alexandra van der Ploeg, Head of Global Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP, says that by empowering social enterprises at a local level, we accelerate these organizations' ability to foster sustainable societal impact and economic growth, growing employment opportunities along the way. In addition, the SAP Social Sabbatical ties in to our overarching company commitment to foster a strong social enterprise movement around the world.

Van der Ploeg adds that the SAP Social Sabbatical not only benefits the social enterprises, but also builds a stronger company culture, connecting employees with purpose in meaningful ways. "SAP is a leading employer in the global digital economy. Giving our people exposure to cross-cultural exchange and learning opportunities, allows them personal growth and also links directly to our higher purpose of improving lives and making the world run better." 

Purpose-driven work
As the war for talent heats up, companies are under increasing pressure, most notably from younger workers, who consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a key motivator in their employment decision. In the latest research by Deloitte, nearly a third of millennials believe businesses should improve society, with a further 27% stating their belief that businesses should protect the environment. SAP employees agree. In fact, more than 93% of employees surveyed believe that it is important for SAP to pursue sustainability. 

Collaborating with social enterprises since 2012, the SAP Social Sabbatical portfolio has placed more than 1000 participants from 56 nationalities who have volunteered at more than 340 organisations in 41 countries delivering an in-kind investment of €15.8M impacting more than 4.9M lives. 

Cathy Smith, Managing Director at SAP Africa, says organisations can no longer focus solely on profit to the exclusion of social and environmental matters. "The Fourth Industrial Revolution brings both exponential opportunity and immense challenges to our continent. Doing good is no longer a nice-to-have: it is a pillar of every successful purpose-driven organisation in the 21st century. Encouragingly, a new breed of business is emerging - one that combines innovation and social impact to achieve lasting positive change within our communities. The SAP Social Sabbatical programme is one of our boldest ways of enabling our employees to make a meaningful impact by partnering with social enterprises in high-impact environments and enabling some of our most talented team members to share skills and insight." 

She adds that the programme creates a lasting positive impact. "Supporting the growth of social enterprises at a local level also enables us to create a thriving ecosystem of innovative, impactful businesses that create employment opportunities and uplift local communities. At a corporate level, many of these social enterprises may one day grow to become SAP customers and partners, so investing in these businesses certainly offers potential commercial benefits too." 

Beyond Ethiopia, SAP will bring the Social Sabbatical for Global Engagement to more countries across Africa between now and April of 2020 including Zimbabwe, Tunisia and Mauritius.

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