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Let’s Start Something … for our Planet and Its People

Devastating floods in Myanmar.  Destructive earthquakes in China.  A shortage of rice and rising corn prices – staples in many world diets – and food price inflation on a massive scale. Hungry orphans in Tanzania.  A chronic lack of access to education in Kenya.  The tangled economic, ecologic, and political web of rising energy prices, carbon emissions, and global warming.

What in the world does any of this have to do with SAP, or with its customers and partners and community members?  How can you or I, as tiny people on this huge and complex planet, do anything meaningful about any of it?  What burden of responsibility do we carry – and what capability do we have – as individuals, as Business Objects, and SDN, and BPX community members, as participants in SAP’s global ecosystem of customers and partners, or as ordinary citizens of planet earth?

The good news is that many people and the companies they (we) all work for are doing something about these topics.  For example:


  • James Farrar, the VP of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs at SAP, is a prolific blogger on the topic of CSR and Sustainability, and leads SAP’s thinking, strategy, planning, and actions in this broad and important area.  James also hosted a big pow-wow with CSR and Sustainability leaders at Sapphire Orlando and is doing something similar this week at Sapphire Berlin.  He will make an impact on SAP, on our customers and partners, and on the industry and the world long-term through his efforts. 


  • Marilyn Pratt is our SAP Community Network lead for the Corporate Social Responsibility topic.  She’s very active with James Farrar, his NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), and other highly vested participants, programs … and she’s a cheerleader and evangelist for CSR and humanitarian causes in our community of 1.2 million people in 200+ countries and territories.  (That’s a lot of potential for impact, and if anyone can rally people to a cause, Marilyn can.) 


  • Soon after the storms/floods in imageMyanmar and the earthquake in China, SAP encouraged its employees to maximize their contributions to victims by also using the SAP Matching Gifts program.  This program is how SAP employees can have their donations to the Red Cross, the U.N. World Food Program, UNICEF, or other agencies doubled when SAP matches their gift with a second donation of an equal amount. (SAP has 118 employees in Chengdu, China – near the earthquake epicenter – and thankfully all of them are safe.) 


  • Beyond the financial support thru a matching gift program, in order to benefit the local communities in and around the towns where we do business, SAP sets aside community service days when employees can volunteer to donate their time and talents to programs of interest, at their choice. 


  • Your company probably does things like those above: matching gifts, community service days, and so on.  What are the best programs like these from your view? (leave your comment below)


  • Ultimately, the one thing SAP can (and will) do to make the greatest impact: build features, fields, capabilities, analytics, and reporting into our software to put powerful tools into the hands of our customers to measure and manage their businesses and government agencies and NGOs more efficiently, effectively, and responsibly.  With an ecosystem that is comprised of >46,000 of the most powerful companies and government agencies in the world, that can cause a viral positive benefit in the long-run.

… and this list barely scratches the surface.  Please (please) tell us what you’re involved in to serve others and benefit the world.  (simply use the comment field below to share your interests and activities

But what about us, the people of the SAP Community Network (SDN, BPX, Business Objects)?

You should know that just by actively participating in our communities, you are making a difference.  You’re helping to feed and educate children in Laos, Colombia, and Ethiopia. 

imageLast year we announced support for the U.N. Food for Education program, so that instead of shipping t-shirts around the world (and adding in a negative way to the carbon footprint in the process) to thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with other community members online here and at our events, we would instead use that budget to feed kids at schools on three continents.  

Two core benefits are served: hungry kids are fed, and they get a better education since they must go to school to receive their food ration.  Better yet, the more you contribute your knowledge, the more SAP contributes to this U.N. program. 

You can now take note of our progress on the SDN and BPX homepages (updated weekly).   

And please help us max-out the donation U.N. Food for Education Program by sharing your experiences with others on SDN and BPX.  Here’s how

Could we do more?

Sure we could.  As private individuals, as influential and empowered employees leading business and government agencies, and as members of a powerful global community, we can do a lot both collectively and individually. 

For example, at SAP we already cut out most of the printed pieces at Sapphire and TechEd and do more electronic distribution of session materials instead – probably saving tons of trees in the process.  We already donate leftover food from the conference to people who need it.  I’d like to see us encourage  attendees who may already have several conference backpacks to voluntarily donate their next one to kids who can’t afford backpacks for school.  Further, maybe individual attendees will pledge to offset the carbon footprint from their travel (I will do so privately out of my own pocket).  I’m sure we’ll again do even more socially-responsible things this year at TechEd (From The Grumpy Old Man: Is it worth keeping the SAPPHIRE burning? using public transportation as much as possible, drinking tap water versus bottled water, and offsetting your CO2 impact from travel, among other things), and grow this effort each year beyond.  What else would you suggest we do collectively as a community of SAP employees, partners, and customers, whether at TechEd or otherwise?  (please comment below)

Individually, each one of us can choose to lead or participate in service projects sponsored by our churches, mosques, synagogues, secular, or professional organizations.  We can choose to give one vacation day a month in service to our local global community.  We can lend our time, talents, money, and energies to a non-profit.  Will you choose to do something that ignites your passion?  What do you already do now?  Will you plan to do anything extra personally, in the months ahead? (please comment below)

Maasai Warrior and Chief Visit SAP Palo Alto, California Offices from Kenya this Thursday

For those who believe that understanding other people and their cultures, and that heightened awareness of other people’s needs are a first step to positive global impact (not just the environmental kind, but also the “helping people” kind), here’s an immediate opportunity and a personal invitation

This Thursday May 22nd, two Maasai men (one is a tribal chief and shaman, both are Maasai warriors) will visit SAP’s offices in Palo Alto, California.  They will share with us and with our guests their rich and interesting culture and background, traditions, rites of passage, and the daily life of the Maasai, plus their hopes, dreams, and actions to create a better future for their people. 

You’re invited to join us … simply RSVP here to indicate you will attend. You are also welcome to invite or bring others, including school-age children.   

About Maasai Warrior and Chief Salaton Ole’ Ntutu

imageSalaton Ole’ Ntutu is a shaman from the nomadic Maasai tribe, where he trained in the age-old tradition to become a skilled warrior who can survive among wild animals in the harsh and challenging African Savanna. Salaton spent seven years in the African bush, from the age of approximately 14, surviving with only a blanket and a spear. He now trains young warriors to carry on the Maasai tradition, while he continues to look after his village.

He continues to live in the traditional ways of his proud and fascinating people, including always wearing the traditional attire of the Maasai, carrying hand-made weapons for hunting and self-defense against buffalo, lions, and other aggressive wildlife, eating traditional foods, living in a hut of sticks and dung, and herding cattle and goats.

In addition to leading a village, Salaton works on social and economic issues pertaining to his tribe.

He built a rescue shelter to protect young girls from the common but illegal practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and to promote the idea of alternative rites of passage. He is also involved in education about HIV/AIDS and monogamy, and in various health and sanitation projects. He supports widows in his tribe who would otherwise find it very difficult to support themselves. Through his tremendous knowledge of African wildlife, he has contributed significantly towards Kenya’s community and tourist industry. He also helps to facilitate the in-country work of the Asante Africa Foundation, which builds and equips schools and sponsors secondary education in Kenya and in neighboring Tanzania.

Salaton is in the United States to forge a link between his tribal community and ours. He hopes to educate us on the ways of his people and to educate his own people on sustainable development and land conservation processes  that will protect natural resources for future generations.

This Bay Area Future Salon is a local professional group that was founded by SAP’s own Mark Finnern to explore accelerating change in technology, science, society, and business.  This meeting of the Future Salon is co-sponsored by the Asante Africa Foundation, a non-profit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area, dedicated to providing educational services to the children and people of Kenya and Tanzania.


  • Thursday, May 22, 2008
  • 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Networking and Light Refreshments
  • 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Presentations and Discussion
  • SAP Palo Alto Campus, Building D at 3410 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, CA
  • Free and open to the public — please RVSP:

If you are not in the San Francisco Bay Area but would like to attend, see webcast information on the Bay Area Future Salon site. 

Let’s Start Something…

Together, we can do something big and impactful. Something beyond us and our normal (speaking from personal experience) self-serving needs to benefit people we don’t know and will probably never meet.  Something that takes the long view of our planet and the people on it. 

I’d like to hear your ideas, passions, and commitment.  (So would James Farrar, Marilyn Pratt, and many others).  What will you do, or what are you already doing actively?  Does your department or company contribute on topics like these? What are the focus areas? Will you help us maximize SAP’s donation to the U.N. Food for Education program by answering other community members’ forum questions, or blogging, writing an article or whitepaper, presenting at TechEd’08, or editing the SDN and BPX wiki?  (Target: 250 points minimum this year.) Will you give your time and/or money to help a particular cause? Which one(s) ignite your passion?

Feel free to comment below, and to share in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability topic areas: including the CSR blogs, a Sustainability & CSR, the CSR wiki area.   And please let us know, a few months from now, what you’re actually doing, how you’re doing, and (if it applies) how it’s changing your life.

Let’s start something … and see the power of our community in the world.

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  • Overjoyed to see this powerful and expansive look at what we as a community, a company and as individuals can do and are doing.  Iris Armbruester (part of James Farrar’s corporate citizenship team), together with World Food Program Public Information Officer Cait Maikin (stationed in Laos) posted this moving description of how our points are being put to work in the sapfeeding knowledge SDN/BPX Recognition program in Laos.
    Thanks to all who participate in furthering building sustainable livelihoods for farmers and families in Laos as well as addressing chronic food insecurity.
  • Overjoyed to see this powerful and expansive look at what we as a community, a company and as individuals can do and are doing.  Iris Armbruester (part of James Farrar’s corporate citizenship team), together with World Food Program Public Information Officer Cait Maikin (stationed in Laos) posted this moving description of how our points are being put to work in the sapfeeding knowledge SDN/BPX Recognition program in Laos.
    Thanks to all who participate in furthering building sustainable livelihoods for farmers and families in Laos as well as addressing chronic food insecurity.