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It seems that everywhere you look…we are all striving to find meaning in our lives.  Each of us wants to feel like we are doing something worthwhile, making a difference, helping the world run better.   Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege to sit with a group of 9 amazing CEOs, all Acumen investees, who are running businesses across Africa and India, all focused on making a difference for underserved populations in the countries they operate.  The companies fall into a category often referred to as social enterprises…wikepedia’s definition being ‘an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being’.  So what does that really look like?  Take Ajaita Shah, CEO of Frontier Markets

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She is forging a business focused on delivering clean, solar products to rural villages in Ragistaan.  When you see the passion she has for her ‘customer’…to find effective ways to deliver remote villages light and power, and remove reliance on dangerous kerosene, stories of which cause me to shudder and wipe away tears…there is instant connection and motivation to find ways to accelerate her success. 

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And Ashifi Gogo, CEO of Sproxil, who is combatting the dangers of counterfeit medicine by provide authentication on mobile devices and help fight the epidemic of 700K annual deaths from ingesting false medication.  These leaders operate with a sense of urgency and commitment that is truly humbling…and their challenges are those that any business executive would relate to as they look at scaling organizational growth – human capital management, leveraging technology, understanding customer insight, and developing leadership skills.  It was a distinct honor to bring together a powerhouse of a cohort to the first SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, in an effort to increase their capacity and growth, and in turn affect more positive change in society.  The Fellowship, a collaboration with Acumen, married together a structured agenda focused on core topics most relevant to their business, with 100 experts and executives across SAP, Silicon Valley corporates, start ups, investors, and influencers…and let’s not forget the tremendous knowledge and insights each of the CEOs carry from their experience.  Over the course of 10 days, the CEOs worked through exercises, engaged in dialogue with experts, questioned panelists, dived into business model canvases, challenged me, developed an incredibly special bond as a cohort, and honed in on what they could tangibly walk away with.  And now we continue over the next 90 days to keep our foot on the pedal…support the CEOs to find that sought-after balance of progressing against goals and managing day-to-day business…to see if the needle can move, and if the investment all around can propel these incredible businesses forward.  It’s an exciting time in the SAP corporate social responsibility team – this is meaningful work and we are just getting started!  To learn more about the CEOs and the work they focused on in the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, watch this short video.

Press coverage:

http://www.paloaltopulse.com/2015/07/23/sap-social-entrepreneurs-event-showcases-new-ideas-for-tackling-poverty/

https://www.sap-tv.com/video/#/36792/the-spin-with-megan-meany-episode-38

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  1. Paul Mannes

    Some of the Staff from our company will be getting a demonstration of SuPM tomorrow.  We are excited about the tool and the benefit it gives us and our customers to truly visualize the impact of work and environment.  Social responsibility is on the edge of becoming a critical economic change agent.  The Global community is at the door knocking and our challenge is to answer with real solutions not just profits…  Nish, thanks for doing what you do.

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    1. Nish Pangali Post author

      Thanks for the kind words Paul – I will pass along to the extensive team both inside and external to SAP that rallied together to work with these amazing organizations.  🙂

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      1. Paul Mannes

        Thank you for your response. While I am new as a member here on SAP, our organization has a lot of years in the analytics space.  Our organizational goals fit with the concepts of sustainability and effective life cycle analysis for sustainability.  That is, profit, people and planet (the 3Ps) all need to be fully sustainable for an organization teffectively to move ahead in what is becoming a future trajectory where all resources are evaluated as components of success.  Non-Profits, in particular need strategic planning to participate in this new business culture.  It certainly helps their missions and future scalability.

        I would like to follow what is happening with SAP and this initiative, and even participate where that might seem feasible. 

        Thanks

        Paul Mannes

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  2. Melissa Friedman

    Hi Nish,

    Wonderful article and video. I feel honored to work for a company that makes the world a better place and you are an example of that!

    Watch out for my tweet about you 🙂

    Melissa

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    1. Nish Pangali Post author

      Thanks for the incredibly kind words Melissa.  It’s a true team effort and I’m also honored to be part of it and represent SAP.  It’s so important for corporations to lead the charge in social responsibility.  I will look out on twitter  🙂

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