It is not about doing good or doing business: It is about doing good business

The Ashoka Changemaker Summit is the largest online gathering of system-changing social innovators and changemakers worldwide. It connects Ashoka's vast community of world-leading social entrepreneurs and leaders from business and philanthropy.

Like many other events this year, this event also had to take place virtually: In more than 100 exciting live sessions, around 280 speakers were given the opportunity to present views on transformative social innovations and connect with 2,000 participants. Under the topic of "Rediscovering Certainty", the Summit was focusing on the question of certainty in times of crisis.

How to become the company of the 21st century?

As long-time partners of Ashoka, Speakers of Boehringer Ingelheim were also invited. Dana Leskova (Head of Corporate Strategy & Consulting) joined a session about the concept of Changemaker companies: "Our belief is that the only way how we can address topics of sustainable and social impact, is by embedding it in everything that we do as a company. Embedding it in our decisions, our mindset, in our policies, in our daily business. Be it by building on our core strengths, by collaborating with other organizations, companies, and social entrepreneurs to scale-up and make a significant difference. This goes beyond the traditional model of corporate social responsibility — it is a holistic, sustainable approach that can be found in the concept of shared value at Making More Health.”

Eco-systems of change

"Collaboration in the time of pandemic is driven by the sense of urgency to create solutions", so Dr. Ilka Wicke (Global Head of Making More Health). The most important thing is a change in perception because we can only overcome this global crisis together. To this end, we need to create a sustainable eco-system of change and collaboration, in which corporate stakeholders also play an important role. "It is not about putting two and two together to get four; it's more about creating a sustainable infrastructure of trust and change especially for communities living close to the poverty line", said Manuela Pastore (Head of Making More Health Community Activation).

Unleash your employees change-making power

Achieving sustainable change also requires the commitment of employees, who change the company from the inside. Boehringer Ingelheim’s approach to changemaking is anchored in intrapreneurship: "Intrapreneurship means to create something of value for someone else", so Fernando Zallocco (Human Resources Director ROPU). It is about connecting the employee’s inner purpose with that of the company to promote sustainable, innovative projects — an approach that Making More Health has embraced. In special leadership programs and the internal competition Bag2thefuture, Boehringer Ingelheim employees get the chance to step out of their comfort zone and develop their social projects — together with local communities in India and Africa or from their workplace.

Combining social and business is not a myth

Co-creation is one of the three pillars of Making More Health. Since 2010 we have been working with social entrepreneurs from the Ashoka network to find sustainable solutions for our communities in Africa and India. As part of our Accelerator Program 2018, we worked in close cooperation with Joost Van Engen, founder of Healthy Entrepreneurs, a social enterprise providing last-mile service delivery of health products and services to rural and hard to reach areas in Sub Saharan Africa. Together we offered screening services, created awareness and provided accessible healthcare services through a combination of telemedicine and in-person doctor visits. A win-win-win for all — Boehringer Ingelheim, Healthy Entrepreneurs, and the communities on the ground.

Social innovation - a key to more certainty?

The pandemic and the uncertainty it has brought forth pose major challenges for all of us, whether as a large company, NGO, or social business. Only by working together can we overcome these difficult times and create innovations that will sustainably support society and the environment. Social innovation, through out-of-the-box thinking and co-creation, creates sustainable solutions that bring certainty to our lifes.

Many thanks to our partner Ashoka and all other speakers for this unique experience.