The SAP Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team’s strategy is tied closely to the company’s corporate strategy and promise: innovate to help customers run at their best.
In the same vein, SAP CSR helps its target audience of nonprofit organizations and social enterprises adopt innovation and organizational best practices, such as design thinking, to run at their best.
We have spent the past decade building trust and adding value to this sector. We carefully select partners — primarily in the areas of quality education, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship — to co-develop and co-innovate programs driving collective impact.
One valued partners is social entrepreneur Regina Honu, who runs the Soronko Academy in Ghana. Soronko Academy is an organization that has given more than 4,500 girls in eight regions across Ghana the chance to learn coding. Here, we discuss her journey and the power of social entrepreneurship.
Q: Can you tell us about your social enterprise?
A: Soronko Academy is a coding and human-centered design academy for children and adults. We teach them coding and digital skills as well as soft and leadership skills. After that we connect them with job or internship opportunities or opportunities to start their own business.
As a social entrepreneur, why is sustainability important to you?
It’s important that we take care of the planet, it’s important that we take care for the next generation — even as an organization, as we work with a lot of children. We are putting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in their mind — all 17 of them — so that they are growing up, understanding that this planet is their responsibility but not only for them, also for the next generations.
I’m hoping that in the next 10 years we will see more cooperation and multi-stakeholder engagement, so that there is a bigger push for sustainability. People will not just have the talk but walk the talk. And I’m hoping that we will see lots of great initiatives coming around the circular economy and people reducing their CO2 footprint. A lot of amazing things happening; I’m very excited to see 10 years in the future.
What makes Soronko Academy a social enterprise?
For us, social impact is very important. Sustainability is also a key factor, and we are looking for skills development. Africa is such a youthful population and we focus also on UN SDG 5, gender equality. It’s important that we upskill the African population — especially women and girls, who are mostly the vulnerable group — to have 21st-century skills, which are digital and technology knowledge, to be able to be competitive, get better jobs, and enrich their lives.
Technology drives everything that we do, and it is important that women and girls are not left behind. For us as a social enterprise, we are big in bridging that gender gap in the digital and technology economy, which is changing everything around us.
How do you see the relationship between the private sector and social enterprises?
Employees want to do good. Let’s look at it first from the employee perspective: They want to work for an organization that cares for their environment. So first it is important that private sector has that engagement or partnership with nonprofits, where first they can provide that platform for employees to volunteer and do good.
The second thing is, even if you’re looking at it from the business sense, people want to have even more reason to buy your products. Is your product using sustainable resources? Do you recycle? Are you giving back to the community? How are you affecting the people that patronize your product? It is not just about having a great product. People now also want to have a cause associated with a product, that this product makes a difference in the world. Private sector has a lot to gain from partnering with nonprofits to show that they do care. What is your value system? It is not enough that you are digging water, that you’re a technology-enabled company.
I can see that private sector and nonprofits are really having a great marriage and the private sector can help nonprofits run in a more sustainable way: help them with their model, how they can scale, because that sometimes is the challenge for social enterprises.
At Soronko Academy, participants learn technical coding and information and communications technology skills, along with soft skills such as entrepreneurship, leadership and networking. Learn more about the academy here.
Top image courtesy of Regina Honu.