“You’ve got to have guts…and liked minded people who believe”

On my last afternoon in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, I stopped by Association of Paper, Carton and Recyclable Material Pickers (ASMARE) to see how SAP Social Sabbatical team members were settling in.  They were in fine shape, especially after a surprise guest joined us for a  visit and candid conversation. It was none other than Dona Geralda Marçal, ASMARE founder and CEO.

Dona Geralda has lived a life that few of us could imagine.  She was born into a poor family in Belo Horizonte. She lost her father at the age of 3 and began to work as a catadora – a garbage collector — at the age of 8. By 16, she was living on the streets and had had the first of twelve children. After spending most of her life as a homeless catadora, she keenly remembers the persecution she faced and the inability of some people to distinguish her from the very trash that she collected.


In 1990, Dona Geralda founded ASMARE, the first association made up exclusively of catadores to help them organize to meet their social and economic needs and to push for a waste policy.  Her vision was to organize the workers so that they could effectively influence and develop a municipal policy for waste collection and recycling.
As members, catadores receive technical training and agree to ASMARE’s rules which include no sleeping or separating materials in the street, no alcohol or drugs and no transportation stolen merchandise. They also commit to ensure that their children are in school, to find housing, to help with warehouse cleanup, and to take part in ASMARE meetings.

In return, ASMARE supports its catadores with several benefits, such as legal assistance, medical and dental, life insurance, microcredit for housing construction, and improved salaries and dividends.


Dona Geralda has already replicated her model in approximately 30 Brazilian cities in the state of Minas Gerais and increasingly attracts international acclaim for her work. Her approach is rooted in firsthand knowledge that catadores can find success as people, as entrepreneurs, and as responsible citizens.


With all her achievements, in my view, Dona Gerlda’s most striking quality is her humility. She personifies the concept of “changemaker”.

Know someone like Dona Geralda who is helping emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities?  Nominate them for the The Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies Competition. Four winners will each receive a comprehensive package from SAP – including a cash prize of US $10,000 and a technology donation. The deadline to enter is September 5, 2012.




The ASMARE team – Evan, Jan, Olena – with Dona Geralda – founder of ASMARE and Ashoka fellow

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Illustrating the Power of High-Impact Entrepreneurs

In today’s ever-changing economic climate, we must look to innovative solutions that unlock small and medium sized businesses’ potential for driving economic growth, innovation and job creation.


One such organization that is doing just that is long-time SAP partner, Endeavor. Endeavor is leading the movement to identify and support a distinct group of entrepreneurs with the greatest capacity to create jobs in emerging markets and generate the economic growth the world needs.  To date, Endeavor’s 600+ high impact entrepreneurs have created more than 180,000 jobs, generating more than $5 billion in revenue.


Endeavor came to us late last year to discuss how we could help them clearly and powerfully illustrate the impact of the “Endeavor Effect” – a phenomenon that suggests that Endeavor supported entrepreneurs dramatically outperform peers in revenue growth, job creation and personal development. The answer was clear, thanks to SAP Crystal Dashboard Design and together, we worked to create analytical dashboards to bring the data to life.


The dashboard analysis combines internal data from the companies of Endeavor entrepreneurs with international company-level data from the Enterprise Surveys of The World Bank. Key metrics include revenue growth, job creation and the direct social effect through the quality of jobs created, including job satisfaction, employee income and employee health and education benefits.


Today, SAP’s Ed Weber previewed the technology dashboards at the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs’ (ANDE) “Metrics from the Ground Up” conference.


Some interesting facts, uncovered in the initial data analysis:

  • By examining data across countries and industry sectors, we can see that Endeavor high-impact entrepreneurs are growing revenue 2.4x faster than comparable firms.
  • Endeavor firms grew revenue 35% per year for 3 years on average, from $3.8m to $12.7m. Layering in data from the World Bank lets us do some comparisons. Comparable firms grow revenue 14% per year for 3 years.
  • We see a similar pattern in job growth. Endeavor high-impact entrepreneurs are creating jobs employees 5.4x faster than comparable firms
  • Endeavor firms grow jobs 39% per year over three years, from 89 jobs to 243 jobs.   Comparable firms, from World Bank data, increase jobs by only 7% per year.


Endeavor and SAP plan to showcase  the success stories of high-impact entrepreneurs and their power to transform local economies. In the process, their hope is to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to create businesses and spark a global dialogue about the power of entrepreneurship.


Learn more about how high-impact entrepreneurship can serve as a catalyst for economic growth and job creation. Check out the dashboards at www.endeavor.org/impact/assessment.  


And if you’re a qualified non-profit, SAP’s business analytics solutions are available through our software donation program. Visit http://home.techsoup.org/Pages/Category.aspx?category=BusinessObjects to learn more. 








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Ever wonder how SAP helps the world run better and improves peoples lives? Check out this recent SAP TV video!

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Reflections and Remembrance from Saint Avold….


My husband and I met friends in France last weekend. On our way back to Germany, we stopped at Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint Avold, France to pay our respects.

The Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial covers approximately 113 acres and contains the largest number of graves of military dead of World War II in Europe, most of whom were killed while driving German forces from Metz, France toward the Siegfried Line and Rhine River.

The cemetary is quite a sight to see. And, made me want to learn more about the young men who fought and were laid to rest there.  As I researched, one hero’s story has become etched in my mind: Ruben Rivers.

Rivers was born in 1921 in Tecumsah, Oklahoma and he grew up with eleven brothers and sisters. With the United States’ entry into World War II, Rivers and two of his brothers, Robert and Dewey, enlisted. Rivers was assigned to a combat unit, training with the 761st Tank Battalion.

The 761st was made up primarily of African-American soldiers, who at time time were not permitted to serve alongside white troops because of segregation. They were known as the Black Panthers after their unit’s distinctive insignia.

Rivers played a critical role with the 761st, becoming not only one of the battalion’s first heroes, but also one of its first casualties.

Shortly after arriving in Europe in the fall of 1944, the 761st was chosen by General Patton to be part of the Saar Campaign. On November 8, 1944, according to various accounts, the 761st’s Able Company aligned with the 104th Infantry Regiment in an attack on German positions near Vic-sur-Seille, France. As they approached the town, a roadblock stopped the progress of the tanks and infantry. The Allied troops came under fire a situation that could have resulted in heavy casualties in a short period of time. Rivers took action that resulted in the battalion’s first Silver Star.  His heroic efforts are recounted below in the official medal citation:

During the daylight attack … Staff Sergeant Rivers, a tank platoon sergeant, was in the lead tank when a road block was encountered which held up the advance. With utter disregard for his personal safety, Staff Sergeant Rivers courageously dismounted from his tank in the face of directed enemy small arms fire, attached a cable to the road block and moved it off the road, thus permitting the combat team to proceed. His prompt action thus prevented a serious delay in the offensive action and was instrumental in the successful assault and capture of the town. His brilliant display of initiative, courage and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon Staff Sergeant Rivers and the armed forces of the United States.

Unfortunately, the medal would be awarded posthumously. On November 16, Able Company, with Rivers in the lead tank, would lead another assault. On the way into the town of Guebling, Rivers’ tank hit a mine, disabling it and leaving Rivers with a life-threatening injury. His commanding officer, Captain David J. Williams, later remembered what happened when he and the rest of the company came to aid Rivers:

With the morphine needle in my right hand about a half inch from Sergeant Rivers’ leg, I could have told my sergeant to hold him down. I said, “Ruben, you’re going back. You’ve got a million dollar wound. You’re going back to Tecumseh. You’re getting out of this. You got a Silver Star and a Purple Heart.” He says, “Captain, you’re going to need me.” I said, “I’m giving you a direct order! You’re going back!” I said, Medics, get the stretcher.” He pushed the needle away and got up. He said, “This is one order, the only order I’ll ever disobey.”

Allowing the medics to only clean and dress the wound, Rivers took command of another tank and, as the Germans had begun to mark the area for heavy artillery fire, moved to take cover with the rest of Able Company. Rivers had been urged to evacuate the night before, but he had again refused to leave the field. On the morning of November 19, his tank led the way and came under extraordinarily heavy fire near the town of Bougaltroff. Williams ordered the remaining tanks to pull back, but Rivers – having located the German anti-tank unit — moved to fire on the area and cover the retreat. In the process, Rivers was fully exposed, and the Germans quickly trained their fire on his tank, landing two direct hits with high-explosive shells. Rivers was killed instantly.

Rivers’ final acts, which demonstrated a profound loyalty to his fellow soldiers and dedication to the war effort, earned him the military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor. However, it would not come until more than fifty years later.


On January 13, 1997, President Bill Clinton presented the Medal of Honor to the families of six African-American servicemen and one living veteran, including Rivers.

The citation accompanying the Medal reads as follows:

For extraordinary heroism in action during the 15–19 November 1944, toward Guebling, France. Though severely wounded in the leg, Sergeant Rivers refused medical treatment and evacuation, took command of another tank, and advanced with his company in Guebling the next day. Repeatedly refusing evacuation, Sergeant Rivers continued to direct his tank’s fire at enemy positions through the morning of 19 November 1944. At dawn, Company A’s tanks began to advance towards Bougaktroff, but were stopped by enemy fire. Sergeant Rivers, joined by another tank, opened fire on the enemy tanks, covering company A as they withdrew. While doing so, Sergeant River’s tank was hit, killing him and wounding the crew. Staff Sergeant Rivers’ fighting spirit and daring leadership were an inspiration to his unit and exemplify the highest traditions of military service.

This is just one of the 10,489 stories of heroism from those buried in Lorraine American Cemetery. And just one of the hundreds of thousands of stories of service from America’s active duty and retired American military personnel.

It took spending a little time at Saint Avold to realize that I don’t recognize those who serve enough for keeping our country safe. In a small way, I hope that this post serves as a “thank you” for all they do.

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A Billion + Change Mobilizes Skills-Based Volunteers

Recently, SAP pledged its support as part of A Billion + Change — a campaign to mobilize billions of dollars of pro bono service from corporations to nonprofits to address core issues that communities face across around the world.

The campaign was launched in 2008 as a public-private partnership by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. At a time when nonprofits were faced with increased difficulty raising funds and a greater demand for services, businesses were looking for ways to more effectively recruit, retain and engage employees who expect social responsibility from their employers.

Reinvigorated in 2011 with expanded leadership under the honorary chairmanship of United States Senator Mark Warner, it is now housed and managed by Points of Light Institute. The initiative is powered by the support of Deloitte, HP, the Case Foundation and IBM, all of whom provide strategic direction for the initiative.

Why Pro-Bono?
Through pro-bono and skills based volunteering, corporations of all sizes can transform how employee skills are utilized to have a lasting impact on society and help build the capacity of non-profit organizations so that that can better address community needs.

From a corporate perspective, such programs can:
• Develop employee skills
• Improve employee engagement and morale
• Enhance reputation, especially among millennials
• Shift thinking as a result of experiential learning from a non-profit experience

While nonprofits can:
• Leverage corporate expertise that they may otherwise not be able to afford
• Support organizational development
• Improve staff skills and increase bandwidth
• Advance service provision

Join the Movement!
A Billion + Change has mobilized more than $1.6 billion in pledges for pro bono service as a result of commitments from 80+ companies. Pledge companies range in size from small businesses with fewer than 10 employees, such as GothamCULTURE, to larger organizations like Starbucks, Adobe and PepsiCo.

Be a catalyst for change in this important movement. As an individual, consider volunteering with your company during a pro-bono or skills based volunteer experience. As a corporation, join SAP and the other member companies by pledging to create, increase or expand a pro bono program and help A Billion + Change reach its goal of $2 billion in pledged pro bono by 2013.

The Billion + Change team can help any company develop a pledge for pro bono that fits with its culture, size, and goals. For more information, please visit http://www.abillionpluschange.org.

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SAP Social Sabbatical: A New Model for Leadership Development and Social Impact

In today’s global economy, the most successful leaders are those citizens who can effectively collaborate and communicate with people from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.
At SAP, we’re always exploring innovative ways to increase leadership development, employee engagement and impact on society through our business expertise. To that end, earlier this week we launched the application process for the SAP Social Sabbatical pilots.

The SAP Social Sabbatical is designed as a short term, exclusive development opportunity in which an international, cross-board area team of High Potential employees will build capacity and solve business challenges with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work with emerging entrepreneurs in select markets. This is just one piece of our overarching social investment portfolio to support emerging entrepreneurs in Brazil and India. South Africa will be the third pilot location for the Social Sabbatical.

This initiative was developed by SAP High Potential employees for SAP High Potential employees, as an alternative to our traditional fellowship. The Social Sabbatical will be an excellent leadership development opportunity for our High Potential employees and we expect applicants from all over the world.
In my view, it’s a win-win-win proposition:

For Participants, they can:
• Develop leadership and cross-cultural skills
• Be part of an experiential learning opportunity
• Have the chance to connect with other emerging leaders, which can lead to new ideas and business relationships that can last well beyond the assignment

For clients, they can:
• Support organizational development
• Advance service provision
• Improve staff skills
• Build capacity
• Impart the learnings and knowledge gained in conjunction with our top employees to others

For SAP, it can:
• Extend strategic social investments in key markets
• Teach us more about the needs of NGOs and emerging entrepreneurs
• Support social innovation
• Energize employees who participated in a once in a lifetime experience

As Margaret Mead so eloquently put it: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” It is my belief that the SAP Social Sabbatical can deliver on this ambition by engaging High Potentials through thoughtful and high impact assignments that leverage employee skills and expertise to help the world run better!

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Inspiration in India…

I returned from India on Sunday following a weeklong trip that focused on developing the next phase of our social investment strategy in country. As I flew home, I reflected on the experience, the personal conversations and the meetings with colleagues, NGOs, government leaders and entrepreneurs.
The meetings were all very promising. But, most memorable moment of my trip was my visit to Dharavi — one of the world’s largest slums. Dharavi was predominantly mangroves before the late 19th century, inhabited by Koli fishermen. However, as the fishing industry disappeared, the swamps were filled and present day Dharavi bears no resemblance to the fishing village it once was.
In a city where rent is amongst the highest in the world, Dharavi provides a relatively affordable option to those who move to Mumbai to earn their living. Spanning an area of about .67 square miles, it is a city within a city with one never-ending stretch of narrow lanes, open sewers and cramped living quarters. It is home to more than a million people — many of whom are second-generation residents — and is one of the most densely populated areas of the world. Estimates also suggest that annual revenue generation in the area to be more than US$650 million due to the large number of thriving small-scale industries that produce embroidered garments, export quality leather goods, pottery and plastic.
At first, I was apprehensive about the tour. I knew it would provide good context setting for the rest of the week, but I was also conscious of the fact that visitors could be perceived poorly by the residents. The last thing I wanted was to be “another Westerner coming to visit the slum from that movie”. When we arrived at the train station to meet our guide, Manoj, I addressed my concerns. Manoj eased my fears, telling me that the residents would prefer to dispel the misconceptions of the slum and although we should “be prepared for looks”, overwhelmingly visitors are received positively.
He was right. On our tour, we were greeted with smiles and kindness. I immediately felt a sense of community and spirit.
Now, please do not assume it’s all positive, that everything’s “all good”. It’s not.
• The working conditions, especially in the “toxic industries” are nightmarish.
• Cholera, typhoid and malaria are common.
• 18,000 people are crowded into a single acre.
• There is one lavatory for every 1,500 residents.
• Often times, 5 or more people are living together in dwelling that is typically 10×10 feet in size.
• There is not a single public hospital.
• There are only a dozen or so public schools and play areas for children are minimal.

The situation for many is challenging to say the least. But, for the working poor in Mumbai, this is home and, I respect that.

The state government has a multi-billion dollar plan to redevelop Dharavi and transform it into a “modern township”, with what they deem as proper housing complete with shopping centers, hospitals and schools.

There has been significant local opposition to the plans, largely because existing residents would receive only 225 square feet of land each, only families residing in the area before 1995 would be eligible for resettlement and there’s lack of clarity if small businesses in the “informal sector” would be relocated.
A wise person I know often says that life is fairly simple. “People are the same everywhere in the world – they want to live a better life than their parents, and they want their kids to live a better life than them.” It is this thinking that brought many to Dharavi. It is this thinking that enables them to preserve and create. It is this thinking that will continue to drive them to continue to focus on bettering their conditions. It is this thinking that drives me to ensure our social investments are focused and pursue a purpose of helping the world run better by improving people’s lives.

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