[Social Sabbatical at SAP Labs Bulgaria] What does a social cause have to do with love?
Posting on social media or vlogging sounds easy when the goals are personal reasons. When you do it for living, it sounds more like fun than like a serious job. When the topic you are vlogging about has something to do with love and relationships, some might say “Common, is this really your job?”. Working in the NGO world or being a social entrepreneur sometimes is also related to chasing unicorns. From the other perspective, social causes might be seen as the completely opposite on business. Having no goals and structure, just the desire to save the world. Being part of a multinational software giant like SAP, for some people means following processes and thinking business all the time.
But my experience from a couple of months ago just proved wrong all of the above.
Volunteering, a social cause, and Loveguide
I must say I’m regularly participating in different Corporate Social Responsibilities in SAP Labs Bulgaria. I really like the ones that are related to education. It is my personal belief that education will save the world as naïve as it may sound ?
But I really wanted to participate in something with huge short-term impact. I decided to join the SAP Social Sabbatical for local engagement program. It offers unique, high-impact volunteering in cross-functional teams with other colleagues from the location. The teams work together to solve concrete business challenges for non-profit organizations in local markets. I’ve been talking with participants from the first edition in Bulgaria. Their enthusiasm motivated me to grab the chance and participate in the second edition this year.
For three months I had the pleasure to work in a great team with colleagues from SAP Labs Bulgaria, Rositsa Ivanova-Valcheva and Aleksandar Raychev. We had some funny discussions and a lot of reasons to laugh. But our project was a very serious one (even though its name doesn’t sound like this). We worked with Loveguide which tackles a social issue that maybe we won’t think about – sexual and health education of teenagers. The lack of it leads to early pregnancies, sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases. And all of this leads the life of a young boys or girls in a certain, not always good direction.
Left to right: Rositsa, me and Aleksandar (from SAP) and Nikoleta and Nadia (from Loveguide)
Vlogging, social cause, and business
Loveguide.bg is a social project to help teens with their questions and concerns about relationships, sexual affairs, love and health-care. One of the main channels that they use are vlogs since this is the trendy thing among teenagers. Who cares about searching in Google, when you might do it on YouTube, right?
The main problem for Loveguide as an organization is the monetization of the activities. There was no structured business model developed during the years. They relied on funding but needed to become sustainable.
Experience from working in SAP saved the day
My team worked together with Loveguide to create an 18-month business strategy with concrete activities which aim to make Loveguide a sustainable business. In the process, we found out how many things we’ve learned during the years working for SAP Labs Bulgaria. We might’ve not known details about the social issue with sexual education of teenagers in Bulgaria, but we knew how to tackle a problem.
- We had a structures process of working, action items, goals, timeline – and everything was digital, of course ?
- We did our research, we talked to teenagers, parents and schools, we used all of our network to gather ideas and feedback.
- And we did something good not only for the society and Loveguide, but for ourselves, as personal development is part of working on a project like this.
What’s in for me?
And we come to one of the most typical questions nowadays. As part of the program, I actively helped a social NGO using my skills, experience, expertise and knowledge. Sometimes we take some things for granted in our everyday SAP life, but even only sharing some good practices can help some businesses.
We had a lot of fun in our team, as well as working with the other participants in the program was wonderful experience. For me personally, I extended my knowledge and improved my time-management skills. Feeling the joy and satisfaction to help for a social cause that is very serious but not many people in Bulgaria think about, is priceless!