December 09, 2016
BASF is further developing its social commitment activities worldwide, based on its Social Engagement Strategy. When selecting the educational, sports, social and cultural projects it supports, BASF will now place even more emphasis on ensuring they have a long-lasting effect for society and offer learning opportunities for the cooperation partners involved.
The common guiding principles for all activities worldwide will be the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. To specifically address local challenges, regional focus areas may be identified. In Ludwigshafen these will include “strengthening the participation and integration of disadvantaged population groups” and “supporting research and discovery.” The region South America focuses on three themes: the “support of natural sciences education”, “improvement of labor market situation and employability especially for young workers” and “protection of natural resources”.
One successful example is the multi-year project “Matchbox,” which was initiated by the cultural office of the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region and is supported by BASF. It is made up of individual local projects, including the “Hemsbach Protocol,” which aims to integrate refugees living in Hemsbach, a town with a population of 12,000, into the community. As an art project, the Hemsbach Protocol sees itself as a complement to other integration measures such as language courses. “On the one hand, we want refugees to be able to show their talents and develop new skills: When working together on an artistic performance, for example, they learn to act more confidently in a new cultural environment and learn German language skills. On the other hand, the citizens of Hemsbach also benefit: They see how the refugees can be an asset to the town,” said Karin Heyl, Vice President Social Engagement at BASF.
With activities in the area of corporate citizenship, BASF wants to contribute to an attractive living environment for neighbors, employees and their families in the regions where its sites are located. To do so, the company supports projects that reach as many people as possible and have long-lasting effects. One example is the global “Connected to Care” program for employee engagement that BASF developed following the positive experiences made during the eponymous team competition to mark its 150th anniversary last year. It is being continued as a mainstay of the company’s corporate citizenship activities. Employees worldwide form teams in order to implement social projects in cooperation with a non-profit organization. The employees can either receive funding for their own ideas or take part in the company’s initiatives.
In Batam, Indonesia, the Connected to Care project “(Not) Too Cool for School” supported a local non-profit organization in building a new classroom for a preschool. This allows children to learn in a safer environment especially designed to their needs. Additionally, a group of BASF employees visited the students in order to spend a day with them under the motto “everyone can be a hero”. They chatted with the children about how important schooling is for their future in a fun setting.
17 BASF employees along with supervisors and employees of the OBDACH e.V. association in Heidelberg, Germany, cleaned up an overgrown and messy garden for the homeless people cared for by the association. With a great deal of motivation and energy, they removed seven cubic meters of leaves and branches and removed the garbage from a shed. The diligent helpers worked at various stations and ensured that the garden was hardly recognizable by the end of the day.
The Connected to Care project “Relocation and Reconstruction of The Shining Star School” supported the reconstruction of an elementary school in Arusha, Tanzania. With financial support from BASF, the team was able to expand the classrooms and equip them with additional windows. The toilets were also modernized. Now the school even has an underground water tank so that water supply is secure.
Agriculture in the Philippine highlands is quite challenging: Transport routes are long, the market is small and extremely competitive. Many of the farmers live in poverty and work with old tools. For the second year in a row, the “Arm in Arm in Farm” project supports an association of highland farmers near Wawa, a small village in the vicinity of Manila. Aside from providing material goods, this year, the 31 BASF employees provide the farmers with information and advice on financial topics and options for increasing yields.
The ”Remodeling Lives: Detroit Osbom Neighborhood” project shows that teamwork and commitment can make a difference even during difficult times. More than 200 BASF employees gathered in Detroit in August of 2015. As such, the project is one of the largest volunteer events of BASF employees in Michigan: With hammers, brushes, spades and angle grinders, they worked together to renovate Detroit's Osborn High School and the neighboring area.
Together with young volunteers, the goal of the non-profit organization Teto (roof) is to combat poverty in Brazilian slums by creating suitable living space and education programs for children. Twelve BASF employees cooperated with Teto and, together, they built an emergency shelter in a slum near Sao Paulo. On top of this, the Suvinil team of BASF Coatings supported the project with 1,000 liters of architectural paint. This allowed 13 houses to be painted that were built on that weekend.
The second pillar includes all Starting Ventures activities. With these activities, BASF develops entrepreneurial solutions that give people with low incomes the opportunity to improve their quality of life themselves. These include, for example, providing skills that will make people more employable as well as access to affordable products for healthy nutrition, hygiene and housing. Starting Ventures concentrates on new partnerships and innovative business models in order to gain access to new markets.
One proposal example is from the automotive industry in South America, called Espacio Inclusivo.
The project Espacio Inclusivo builds on earlier successes in Chile and has expanded to targeting unemployed young people in Argentina and Uruguay. In these countries, people with low-income family backgrounds often have limited opportunities to learn technical and other skills relevant for formal employment. At the same time, our customers in the automotive repainting and repairing industry face shortages in skilled labor.
Through Espacio Inclusivo, BASF has therefore started to facilitate vocational trainings for unemployed young people, empowering the graduates to find jobs at our customers. Earlier successes in Chile have shown that graduates earned at least 55% more than the minimum wage.
For several decades, BASF’s social engagement has contributed to positively influencing the way residents live together in the communities around its sites and working with partners on solving questions of the future. In the past five years, worldwide expenditures in this area have been around €50 million annually. Following the realignment, BASF’s social commitment will remain at this high level.