Social Entrepreneur Award
"An open-air concert after sundown, a trip to the stadium in winter—that can get pretty cold and uncomfortable. With Softdrop, you always have a comfortable and warm seat because our heated cushion will keep you cozy warm even during penalty shoot-outs. In addition, you are contributing to our 'Korkardam Boham—Working Together as Equals' concept with local refugees here in the Rhine-Main region." These were the words with which Filippo Giuri (15) introduced his team's business idea.
With their social enterprise Softdrop, the team from the Prälat-Diehl School in Groß-Gerau won the 2017 BCG Social Entrepreneur Award. At the German finals in Munich, the team of six presented its idea to the audience. They very consciously decided on a social idea. "We have a lot of refugees in our immediate environment in Groß-Gerau, and we definitely wanted to do something together with them," recalls Dennis Georg (16). "Once we had decided on Softdrop as our business idea, it was clear that we would kick off the detailing, production, and distribution together with them."
INNOVATION THROUGH DIVERSITY
Carsten Kratz, Senior Partner and Head of The Boston Consulting Group in Germany and Austria, praised the dedication of the young founders: "These six young people from Groß-Gerau demonstrate what it means to take on social responsibility. Together with young refugees in the Rhine-Main region, they developed their product, Softdrop, and built prototypes. They plan to create jobs and internships for refugees. This proves once again: New ideas emerge especially where people with different perspectives, origins, and social and cultural backgrounds work together."
KORKARDAM BOHAM—WORKING TOGETHER AS EQUALS
What sets Softdrop apart is thus not the product itself—even if it does keep us warm during outdoor activities—but the way it is produced: entirely by hand—and working together with local refugees. The students were put in touch with a refugee meeting point by their coaches, Holger Lies and Karin Zwer (Lufthansa AG) and quickly found interested and active collaborators. For instance Roya Abdolahi from Afghanistan, a trained seamstress who helped to develop the prototypes. She can sew four to five pillows per hour. The students want to start with three seamstresses on a mini job basis. "The refugees can learn German, familiarize themselves with the German job market, and most importantly, are part of our project. This is how integration can work," team spokesman Nick Lemke (16) is convinced. Milad Issa from Damascus nods. The 26-year old already has a degree in medical engineering technology. He worked on the project enthusiastically from the start and was also very active in shooting the short film about Softdrop.
The company itself is has a simple structure and modest size and will not be focused on expansion. Any profit that remains once costs are covered will flow back to the refugees, for instance for German language classes from "Teachers on the Road," as teacher David Herkert explains. A Softdrop cushion will cost around €15, and the first customer is already lined up: The soccer club Eintracht Frankfurt has agreed to buy 1,000 cushions.