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News | “This Works!”: Ideas to fight unemployment

Social entrepreneurs are developing employment concepts for southern Europe

New developments at Robert Bosch Stiftung

Sandra Schürmann, the founder of JobAct, hopes to promote the strengths of unemployed youth while at the same time help them find a job. Her company offers a special drama program for job seekers that enables participants to develop their own plays. At the same time, those taking part in the program receive intensive job application training that is closely related to their theater work. Schürmann is one of twenty social entrepreneurs that receive funding from the “This Works!” initiative. On June 29, Schürmann and her counterparts presented their ideas to the public in Brussels.

The Robert Bosch Stiftung launched the initiative in 2014 in cooperation with Ashoka, a non-profit organization. The aim is to apply successful employment concepts in southern European countries, where youth unemployment is high, and to provide young job seekers in Spain, Italy, and Greece with new prospects for the future. The initiative is based on the idea that Ashoka Europe and Ashoka national offices help social entrepreneurs find local partners who can then implement the concepts in their communities. The Robert Bosch Stiftung has spent almost one million euros on the “This Works!” initiative.

At the event in Brussels, which was attended by politicians and members of civil society, social entrepreneurs showed how many young people they have been able to help find work. Until now, more than 3,000 people have taken part in “This Works!” training seminars, and about 1,500 have found jobs. To conclude the event, participants discussed what is needed to successfully transfer ideas that promote social entrepreneurship to other countries. Factors include selecting the right partners abroad, taking local needs into account, and promoting knowledge sharing between companies and partners.

In the future, additional countries will also benefit from “This Works!”. Market studies are currently underway to assess whether the project could be rolled out in Portugal and Croatia to help fight youth unemployment in these two countries.

More information on the “This Works!” project can be found here.

More information on the Bosch apprenticeship program in southern Europe can be found here.

News : Open for change

What can companies do to make social innovations possible? 



The Bosch Diesel Systems management team recently addressed this question at its annual meeting. To discuss possible answers, the senior executives invited a prominent speaker to their gathering: Olivier Kayser, the founder and managing director of Hystra, a global management consultancy that specializes in social entrepreneurship. The former McKinsey senior partner’s keynote speech highlighted the fact that stakeholders in today’s business community are now taking a more active role with regard to social responsibility. “The public debate is no longer focusing only on avoiding negative impacts on the environment and society. Today, companies are expected to take advantage of opportunities to tackle social problems,” said Kayser. 



The seasoned consultant provided a number of practical examples to illustrate his argument. He spoke, for instance, about a cement manufacturer that revamped its product portfolio with the aim of providing more affordable housing while at the same time attracting a greater number of customers with lower income and raising its revenue. In addition to its core product, the company now also offers technical advice and financing for the construction of makeshift houses. The approach also pays off for the customers, as approximately 40 percent of the acquired cement has ended up as discard due to a lack of knowledge or financing. Another example his talk addressed was that of a pharmaceutical company that has joined forces with Ashoka, a non-profit organization, to provide up-and-coming executives with insights into the work of social entrepreneurs. As a result of this program, young executives learn to see social innovation as potential drivers of growth at an early stage. 



“Be the change you want to see in the world.” With this Mahatma Gandhi quote Olivier Kayser encouraged the Bosch Diesel Systems managers to commit to social change over the course of their careers, for instance by cooperating with social entrepreneurs in the areas of security, transport, or recycling – all of which are Bosch fields of business. To do this, a corporate culture is required that is, much like Bosch’s, based on innovative spirit, openness, and cross-sectoral cooperation. At the same time, “changemakers” must be willing and able to accept mistakes and learn from them. According to Kayser, executives that take this risk are often rewarded with growth, innovation, and a greater sense of purpose; one that the words “Invented for life”, the Bosch strategic imperative, reflect perfectly.


News: The Era of Citizens

Experts discuss the future of civil society

New developments at Robert Bosch Stiftung


Where and in what form can the citizens of a globalized society make an active contribution? This was one of the topics of “The Era of Citizens – How Civil Society and Foundations are Shaping the Future”, an international conference that was held on October 16 and 17 in Berlin. The event was hosted by Robert Bosch Stiftung and was attended by prominent personalities from the worlds of politics and media, as well as by representatives of foundations and committed citizens. Discussions focused on the role that foundations play as partners of the state and businesses. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the corporate foundation presented its study “The Future of Foundations”.


 Federal President Joachim Gauck opened the conference. In his speech, he reminded the audience of Robert Bosch’s legacy. The company founder never lost sight of social well-being, and was committed to promoting education and health. “Today, there are many networks besides democratic institutions that make this country strong and beautiful,” said Gauck, who emphasized that civil society is the hope for a better future, also in countries such as Myanmar or India.



Gauck’s words were echoed by Kailash Satyarthi, who recently received the Nobel Peace Prize for this commitment to fighting child labor in India. “Each of us has something special to contribute,” said the founder of the “Global March against Child Labour” network. “We must globalize with compassion, and this is a message we must pass on to our children.” Muhammed Yunus also spoke at the conference. The inventor of micro-credit is also a founding member of the “Global Academy”, an Ashoka initiative. The non-profit organization is also a partner of Robert Bosch Stiftung. 


More information on “The Era of Citizens” conference can be found here 

News | "This Works" - job creation ideas

Bosch experts are helping social entrepreneurs come up with job creation concepts for southern Europe 
New developments at Robert Bosch Stiftung
Ana Bella Estévez founded a school in Spain that enables female victims of abuse to discover and nurture their inner fighter, and to successfully apply it in their working lives. This concept has proven to increase women’s chances of finding jobs, and could serve as a role model for other countries. Estévez was one of 15 social entrepreneurs who recently presented their innovative training concepts at the “GlobalizerX on Employment” conference. The event was hosted by Ashoka, a non-governmental organization. 
In cooperation with Robert Bosch Stiftung, Ashoka launched the “This Works!” project in 2014. The initiative aims to fight high youth unemployment in southern Europe. As Ashoka Fellows, social entrepreneurs from around the world are further developing ideas that have succeeded in their home countries, and they are receiving the support of experts along the way. Thomas Heinz and Dr. Alfred Odendahl are among them: the former Bosch executives held high-level positions in HR management and are now working for their former employer as Senior Experts. During the conference, they discussed the Ashoka Fellows’ ideas and provided detailed advice to several young entrepreneurs who were selected beforehand.
“Our common goal is to turn good ideas into business models and local pilot projects into concepts that can be implemented around the world. The aim is to come up with fast and effective job creation projects,” said Dr. Odendahl. “Youth Unemployment in Europe”, a study recently commissioned and published by Robert Bosch Stfitung, shows that there are serious gaps in occupational training schemes in Italy, Portugal, and Spain. These gaps could be closed if politics, business, and civil society cooperated to find solutions. 
In most cases, social enterprises need to be professionalized before they can grow. This includes establishing risk management measures and building relationships with large companies that can support innovative concepts. In this regard, discussions with the Senior Experts proved helpful for Sandra Schürmann and Lukas Harlan. The founders of the “Projektfabrik” initiative have developed an educational theater program that helps youth without occupational training find jobs or apprenticeships. Dr. Alfred Odendahl convinced the two social entrepreneurs that Bosch could also be a potential employer for these young adults.
More information on “This Works!” can be found here