Weinheim. April 29, 2016. Just 26 years old, Jakob Schillinger has already created 23 jobs in Burkina Faso and has given 13,000 West Africans access to training and work by providing them with glasses. The dedicated student is co-founder of the "EinDollarBrille" (one dollar glasses) association. "For me, success means making the world a better place", said Schillinger. "Talented young people, living social responsibility. We at Freudenberg support this sort of commitment, because it fits the understanding of values that our technology company has lived for over 165 years", explained Dr. Tilman Krauch, Member of the Management Board of the Freudenberg Group, at the Enactus network meeting in Weinheim. This was the third time Freudenberg had organized the nationwide "Students meet Enterprises" event, which was attended by 13 well-known companies from all over Germany. Around 200 dedicated young people, all of whom had developed social projects, were invited to the event by Enactus president and CEO of Freudenberg's Home and Cleaning Solutions business group, Dr. Klaus-Peter Meier.
Schillinger's idea had a significant impact in Burkina Faso. His concept was a simple pair of glasses with a spring steel frame and pre-ground polycarbonate lenses that everyone can afford and is easy to manufacture locally. Since the launch of the initiative, 13,000 visually impaired people have been able to access training and employment. The project is being successfully implemented by the "EinDollarBrille" association.
His team has already established production and distribution infrastructures in Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Brazil and Benin. In his role as country coordinator, the 26-year-old travels to the West African country several times a year, where he trains skilled local workers in the production and sale of glasses. The material cost of the glasses is around one US dollar and their retail price equivalent to two or three times the local daily wage. 23 people currently work for the association in Burkina Faso and they and their families live from the sale of the glasses.
Enactus is also active in the Rhine-Neckar region. Developed by a team of students in Mannheim, the "Back on Track" project offers former prisoners a way back into society by working on a vegan food truck. Making the nursing profession more attractive is the aim of another student project in Mannheim, under the name "Generation Pflege" (Generation Care).
The annual careers fair has benefits for both sides. Potential young professionals are able to gain an insight into business life while Enactus partners can make contact with talented young people who live social values. Freudenberg was joined at the event by BASF, Bayer, Kärcher, Enterprise, Inverto, Evonik, Telekom, KPMG, Peek & Cloppenburg, RWE, Unilever and EY.
The Freudenberg Group has been a partner of Enactus for more than a decade. Across Germany, China and the United States, around 20 senior Freudenberg executives are represented on the board of the organization. Many Enactus students write their dissertations in the company or complete work placements. Freudenberg is also a sponsor of the organization. With an initiative to support hospitals in South Africa, the Enactus team from Mannheim University won the title of national champions for the fifth time and reached the semi-finals of the Enactus World Cup in Johannesburg.