Andrej Safundzic (20), from Bad Reichenhall, is building up the first entrepreneurial ecosystem at a university in Africa in order to protect juveniles from poverty and unemployment through local entrepreneurial activities.
Corresponding to the principle of self-efficacy in social commitment, Andrej combines the personal experiences he made in Uganda with the knowledge gained during his studies to create visible value for others.
„Imagine yourself close to graduating but 75% of the graduates do not find a job. Image yourself being under such serious strain that you consider self-employment just to keep surviving.”
This is exactly what Andrej Safundzic is working on together with his fellow students from LMU & TU München, Oxford, MIT and Harvard. Since 2016, they foster the foundation of firms through effective education of pupils in Uganda.
Their project StartHub Africa is the first decentral Start-up platform at African universities. At the moment, the platform is operating at five universities and is close to being introduced to ten more universities in 2018. The goal is to offer an innovative solution to the high unemployment rate through a scientific basis.
StartHub Africa is changing the Startup environment in East Africa with the help of Founding Acadamies, Business Clubs and practice-oriented teaching curricula at universities.
That way, an academy has been established which allows every student team to obtain 100€ of funding and an eight-week entrepreneurial training to build up a business.
Afterwards, the students present their idea, get in contact with potential investors and get to know like-minded entrepreneurs from other universities. Finally, the best teams will become part of the StartHub Accelerator where they will get additional funding and personal coaching, true to the motto: “We turn job seekers into job creators!”.
Johanna Sander (26) from Bad Salzdetfurth initiated several donation campaigns to support orphans with education in Nayorku, a village in the underdeveloped north of Ghana, in 2011 after her stay in Ghana. This was triggered by her wish to travel around the world after her high school graduation and her social commitment.
In Ghana, she noticed that sustainable aid would be necessary to give the orphans a real opportunity in life.
In 2014, she founded the association “HIBEKI – Hilfe für sozial benachteiligte Kinder in Ghana e.V.” (aid for disadvantaged children in Ghana) which contains 76 members by now. Over the last years, HIBEKI financed and helped building two school buildings. Furthermore, they also pay the running costs, such as a daily meal, school supplies, school uniforms, vaccinations, health insurance, and salaries for four teachers and a chef.
Because of the miserable sanitary situation, Johanna Sander initiated a crowdfunding campaign in the summer of 2017 to finance the construction of a restroom facility, a separate dressing room for girls, and sinks.
After construction, basic rules of hygiene, called WASH, should be mediated in a school program. The mission is to explain the correct use of the system, as well as, to enforce the awareness of hygiene so that the health of the students can be improved. Dependent on the success of the crowdfunding project, more sanitary facilities shall be built in the village.
In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institution for building physics (in Stuttgart), HIBEKI would like to test an oven that could improve the cooking situation in Nayorku by saving resources.
Johanna has a great vision and a lot of plans on how to provide on-site help.
Tom Behrenbeck (20) from Cologne, with his project “TomForRescue”, pursued two goals at once: Helping people in need, and showing people in Germany, through his website, the conditions in one of the world’s most critical regions, the Mediterranean Sea at Libya.
In his online blog, he published daily reports, photos and videos of rescue missions so that people worldwide could take part in those events. Through his efforts, Tom managed to collect 6.420€ worth of donations.
In the summer of 2016, Tom assisted in various rescue missions aboard the rescue cruiser MS Aquarius for the duration of six weeks. For him, it was the most impactful time of his life. Together with the team of the sea rescue organisation SOS Méditerranée he went on missions off the libyan coast. 12 miles off the cost, they came to the rescue of many refugees who tried their luck crossing the sea on their way to Europe. Within the first 24 hours aboard, they had already accomplished four missions, rescuing almost 500 stranded people. Many more followed.
During his time aboard, 1492 people were brought back onshore. Unfortunately, in many cases only the dead bodies of refugees could be retrieved by the team. As member of the Search and Rescue Team, Tom got involved in all of the different areas, such as searching for refugee boats, calming down refugees on their first cruise, bringing them to the mothership, and providing supplies and food.
For him, it was a deeply fulfilling work. In nightly conversations, he heard gruesome stories about the exploitation in libyan working camps, rapes, coercions, public shootings and acid attacks on African women who refused the Libyan tractors. Even with a sympathetic ear, one can help and soothe others.
Carola Burkl (26) from Munich founded the association “Engagement Enfants sans Limites” with a small group of young adults from Germany and Togo that operates the Assokoto School for the Deaf in Atakpamé, Togo.
During her voluntary service, she detected enormous regional differences in quality of the local schools for the deaf and, particularly, in the rural areas the need for aid was high. Many deaf children, especially girls, do not visit a school at all because of two reasons: First, the number of special schools is limited and most are too far away. Furthermore, for many families, having a disabled child is perceived as a dishonor, for which reason, they are often hidden instead of being sent to school.
In the surrounding villages, awareness training was conducted successfully and even sponsorships are being offered for financially weak families. Partly, the organization could also bear the costs of transportation, lunch, and tuition.
The mission of the association surpasses the one of other schools: It aims to offer peaceful education, that focuses on individual strengths and weaknesses of students.
Another part of the mission is to train young adults to become crucial members of society, which includes, education in the fields of environment, human and children’s rights, or health and hygiene. Moreover, it stands up for an increase in acceptance and integration of the deaf. To achieve that goal, the organization performs awareness programs in the surrounding valleys and offers free sign language courses for family, friends, and others.
That goal unites Carola with her fellows and motivates them to keep going – very successfully, so far.
Jin-Ju Jahns (26) from Munich, as a daughter to a Korean mother and American father from Montana, had always been faced with integrative obstacles. As a child, she could already witness the struggles her mother had to go through to be fully accepted in a different culture. That she had a stable job did help them in that regard.
When Jin-Ju, in 2015, witnessed the seemingly never ending stream of refugees coming to Germany, she decided to provide support by mediating jobs to facilitate integration. She started off with a garden-project in the Bayernkaserne, an admitting facility for refugees in Munich, offering meaningful work to 3-5 new applicants each week. This gave birth to the SIR (Social Impact Recruiting), a non-profit initiative supported by her family and close friends. This would keep them busy deep into the night and even on weekends. This provider of jobs grew to 11 employees within its first year, and, until May 2017, managed to provide over 500 immigrants with work in various fields of expertise, from camel caretaker to IT expert.
As of now, the SIR has been incorporated and operates under the Plant-a-Talent.org domain. All men and women who come to Plant-a-Talent are personally interviewed and receive an in-depth preparation for their new line of work in Germany. In this growing, dynamic team under Jin-Ju’s lead, most of its members have an immigration background themselves. They speak the same language as the refugees, being a great model for integration done right. Meanwhile, Plant-a-Talent is recognized as one of Munich’s leading companies in the field of integrating refugees into German society. It facilitates entry into the work process through its job placement services, as it improves the intercultural relations between refugees and employers. S
ince May 2017, Plant-a-Talent has identified and placed an additional 100 jobs for refugees, knowing that employment is a key to integration.
Henrik Lerchl (25) from Lindenfels, Odenwald, together with his brothers, founded the non-profit Active Learning e.V. in 2010, which since then has had an impact on over 10.000 children in the Bergstraße region.
The association seeks to give every child a chance to prove and unleash their inner potential, to themselves and everybody else. The key to a successful and harmonic society, according to the association, is both education and democratic thinking. In order to enable and use the great potential of young people for society, individual talents and personalities need to be nurtured, hope needs to be regained where it has been lost, and both children and juveniles need to be given new perspectives.
Active Learning e.V. offers free shared lunchtime meals to all members, a learning phase, and a phase for both sports activities and creative work. The association works in cooperation with three schools which provide rooms and halls. For supervision and mentoring, senior students, trainees and teachers are employed part-time.
The concept is complemented by workshops, camps and events focusing on socially relevant topics. Apart from a workshop in animal protection and environmental measures, a violence prevention camp has been established with a focus on boxing to offer and outline solutions to conflict situations in which young people may find themselves in.
Furthermore, social events are held to strengthen the region’s solidarity. The association’s work proves that young people, despite their often difficult backgrounds, use their chances, if they are offered any, and given the necessary trust.
Making friends without regards to societal and cultural barriers and the democratic togetherness resulting from it is, according to Henrik Lerchel, the one most important accomplishment for Active Learning e.V.
The Demokratiebahnhof Anklam is a youth- and cultural centre, founded in 2014 by juveniles of the boy scout association from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and voluntarily organized ever since.
The “Youth Centre Abstellgleis” offers an open youth club with workshops, holiday activities and cultural events, like readings, presentations, movie nights or concerts.
Anklam is a “difficult neighbourhood”, especially for those who seek a more democratic solidarity. Through the decades, the local neo-Nazi scene has established itself in Anklam, and the overall atmosphere is one of xenophobia and intolerance. Despite these conditions, there are also those who actively promote democracy which need to be encouraged. Even juveniles from right-wing households are welcome members of the youth centre. Many have already established friendships with refugees. By openly promoting democratic solidarity, and shunning xenophobic behavior and intolerance, the club strengthens and encourages people to get involved and contribute socially.
The “Demokratiebahnhof Anklam” is an open space, providing positive inspiration to Anklam and Western Pomerania. It has become an important refuge for refugees where they receive support and respect.
Here, young people are able to develop and try out their own ideas, and create a living space of their own choosing. The weekly program offers upcycling, gardening, joint cooking and hanging out together. Furthermore, presentations and discussions as well as move nights and concerts are held frequently.
The Demokratiebahnhof Anklam, as a sociocultural centre voluntarily organized by young people, is unique in its regard. Beyond the borders of Anklam, it contributes to the development of a healthy society and it encourages people to put their skills to use, for the greater good.
Safin Hassan Ilyas (22) from Bielefeld, son of an eight-member Yasidi family, at the age of 8, immigrated to Germany as a refugee from Iraq.
During his childhood he spent a good amount of his free time volunteering. As the eldest son of a family of eight, he held great responsibility from a fairly young age. He quickly reached proficiency in German, which enabled him to act as an interpreter and translator for his family and fellow Yasids. He has also always been supporting his younger siblings with pieces of advice. In school, Safin assisted his fellow classmates, often helping them with school work. He was often elected representative of his class and school because of his commitment.
During his time as school representative he managed various school projects, such as “School without racism – school with courage”. Safin graduated on top of his class and school. Besides German and English, Safin also speaks four other languages. Today he studies politics, administrative sciences and international relations.
His involvement in education serves as role model for many juveniles who share his background.
At the end of 2015, Safin realized the initiation and administration of “Kickoff for HUMANITY”, an integrative project, through a nationally held welfare football tournament in Bielefeld. The project was carefully prepared and executed by Safin. He knows well how to attract people to great ideas and how to organize initiatives in a thoughtful manner. In cooperation with other equally committed young people he organizes the tournament, which aims at having children of refugees and local children play together in mixed teams to promote social integration and a more culturally diverse society.
During the days of the tournament in April 2016, 400 young people took part in it. This year, the same event took place on an even bigger scale, and it was rewarded with the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk award.
Safin Ilyas is also involved as ONE- youth ambassador for global organisations of development policies, as well as serving as alumni spokesman on the board of the START foundation.
The “Jugendforum” (JUFO), founded in Diez/Lahn, is a non-profit association managed exclusively by young people who run school debating events, with participation of youth associations, in 31 districts in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse.
They offer non-party debates held in US-American style between young politicians. The free-of-charge evening event attracts 150 participants on average who engage before, during and after the event through various online platforms, such as Facebook comments or the event’s very own website which offers a selection of topics and surveys.
During each event, the JUFO works closely with the student council which determines topic and advertising, and the teacher council of politics and social studies which outlines and organizes the event at its respective school.
Motivated by these JUFO events, political debates will hopefully find their way into young people’s lives more frequently. In the same manner, the JUFO tries to view social issues differently and it seeks to establish connections between different social groups. As written in the association’s statute, the main purpose of JUFO is to act against political weariness and to fight problems resulting from a lack of democratic participation. Low turnout, populist slogans on the internet and daily life, and a decline of members in political parties and youth associations all reflect a crisis of democratic participation in society – and not only in Germany.
That is where JUFO comes in. By organizing effective public debates which, through entertaining features, social media support and a great selection of topics, widely gained interest even with the politically disinterested, JUFO polarizes the Rhine-Main area.
Non-profit association “agon – Gesellschaft zur Förderung von Theater und Musik e.V.” assists students and teens from Bonn and the surrounding area in developing creative initiative in theatre and music.
The focus is on professionalisation as well as networking, communication and interaction between the actors.
A crucial element here is the integrative effect of theatre and music. That way, young people from socially disadvantaged families get motivated to realize their own ideas. The experience and skills gained through these support measures will empower them to stand for their cultural interests with confidence and independence, and eventually become an inspiration to others in living culture.
The initiators Arthur Abs and Johannes Oettingen, who both discovered their love for theatre at the Aloisiuskolleg, managed to bring a theatre play to the public stage all on their own during their senior year at high school. During this time, they learned it takes a professional attitude to manage cultural events with their numerous facets.
In order to empower other young people to take big steps towards independence, self-confidence and teamwork, many project ideas and initiatives are supported through practical methods.
These focus on coachings and workshop done by actors and musician, consulting in cultural management and public relations, arrangements for performance space, props and technical equipment, as well as financial resources and contribution in kind. The development of agon has gained keen interest in the cultural areas of Bonn.
The Mayor of Bonn was welcomed as honorary member and a cooperation with the Beethovenhaus was established. This shows how even relatively conservative cultural initiatives, by students for students, are welcomed by society.
High school student Simon Elias Herrmann (15) from Stromberg in Bendorf, during the nationally held youth contest Startup-Teens, managed to develop a concept for dealing with waste, which quickly gained attention. With his “Ecopress”, a garbage press developed by himself, he wants to enable every household to compress its waste by two thirds of its volume.
The idea to developing the ecopress was realized in March 2017, inspired by the amusing fact that Simon Elias would always be tasked with taking out the trash at home.
Having always been interested in science and technology, he wondered if the potential of waste could be used more effectively. Since there also haven’t been many incentives for households to properly separate their waste, the ecopress could tap into this unused potential.
Besides his idea of reducing waste, he also wishes to reduce the frequency of garbage collections. In his opinion, this could positively impact the reduction of the often criticised fine dust pollution caused by the garbage vehicle’s diesel engines as well as reduce the consequent traffic obstructions which further increase air pollution.
In order to use the potential underlying the waste, Simon’s business plan, with focus on sustainability, encourages households to better separate their waste.
The “Ecopress” is a compressor and cutter at the same time. It can be used for paper, residual waste, and especially for organic waste. The organic waste is used in biogas plants and converted to gas, which can be obtained by users of the “Ecopress” at special rates. Paper compressed by the “Ecopress” is also recycled. These paper recycling products too can be obtained by users at preferential rates. In this regards, the “Ecopress” contributes to the protection of the rain forests as well.
Initial talks with a major disposal company have been held. A cooperation with the Hochschule Koblenz is in
Louis Jarvers (22) from Witten/Ruhr, together with his friends, founded the “Friends of OWSK e.V.” in 2013, a German society of supporters for the One World Secondary School Kilimanjaro, a euro-african project school.
In 2012, Louis had served a voluntary year of social service supporting the school’s first grade.
Since then, the local secondary school made it their goal to give teachers in Tanzania an alternative to the authoritarian school system through modern learning methods. This benefits primarily the students who, thanks to locally anchored modern pedagogy, are receiving an education of higher value. Unlike state-run schools, beating students is strictly prohibited, and through international school exchanges the students learn in a multicultural class environment. According to the slogan “education as the key to development”, the OWSK sees itself not as a development aid association in the classic sense, but as an assistance for self-help instead.
In Germany, the association significantly contributes to the school’s impact in Tanzania. It serves the areas of public relations and fundraising, with annually collected donations of up to 12.000 EUR. Likewise, it helps with the selection of volunteers and overseeing exchange programmes boths ways. As of now, 12 volunteers have been prepared for the OWSK and were accompanied during their time in Tanzania. The association enables them to assist the school on site, as well as helping them define their personal boundaries and gain valuable life experience in the process. Through its online blog the association keeps friends and supporters up to date.
When asked about his motives, Louis explains, “We think that rights to education and its implementation are very important. And we know that projects like the One World Secondary School need assistance in realising this. And, through our personal connections to the school, we know for certain that each and every contribution, be it conceptual or financial, matters. That is why we’re especially motivated to contribute to the realisation of this project.”