Author: April Moeller
After a semester of learning and planning, seven students from the Social Entrepreneurship elective traveled to Hamburg, South Africa to implement their solutions on site in cooperation with the Keiskamma Art Project.
The Keiskamma Trust is a non-governmental organization centered in Hamburg, a rural area of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. They offer employment opportunities, health services, and education opportunities in the poverty and disease stricken communities around Hamburg. The Trust consists of the Music Academy, the Health Program, the Education Program, and the Art Project, with which CDTM is partnered. The Art Project employs over 100 artists and piece-workers, who create art through embroidery, wire-working, and felt-making.
The Social Entrepreneurship students were tasked with finding solutions for three challenges the Art Project was facing: to create a sustainable online branding and fundraising strategy for the Art Project to gain international recognition, to create a management tutoring concept for new employees with low educational background, and to create digital solutions and processes for training management and employees.
Over the semester, 18 students worked hard to develop solutions to these challenges and created a plan to be implemented on site at the end of the semester. In March 2015, a group of seven Centerlings set out to Hamburg to work together with the Keiskamma Art Project on implementing the solutions. The group consisted of six students from the Fall 2014 class: Maurice Jakesch, April Moeller, Johannes Müller, Jonas Rieke, Julian Renz, and Florian Schaule; and was organized and led by Center Assistant and course coordinator, Laura Bechthold.
After a long road trip from Cape Town, the Centerlings arrived in Hamburg along a dark and dusty dirt road. The team stayed in the homes of two Art Project employees and shared a meal of samp and beans before resting up for the workweek ahead. The first two days were spent touring the Trust and Hamburg, learning about the production processes, and conducting interviews with employees and community members. At this point, the team came to the realization that the implementation plan prepared back in Munich would have to be adjusted on site. The new plan consisted of three main focus points: creating a flow chart of management processes in preparation for the departure of the head of the Art Project, digitalizing and optimizing the ordering process, and increasing online presence through social media and an updated online shop.
Throughout the rest of the week, April, Maurice, and Julian continued to conduct interviews in order to sketch out the management processes, while Johannes worked together with the management team to create a social media task force. Laura and Jonas worked on digitizing the order books and Florian presented a new online shop. Jonas and Johannes were also able to collect ample video and photo material to be used by the Trust for marketing purposes. By Friday, a final proposal for action had been created and was presented to the management team in a final meeting and feedback session.
It wasn’t all work though – the Centerlings also had the opportunity to visit the local school, where they learned that preteen children are the same all over the world. They walked along Hamburg’s windy beaches receiving a free dermal abrasion treatment from the harsh, wind-swept sand. The sporty ones played soccer with the community and learned that the game is not to be taken lightly. And, they enjoyed a dinner of fresh prawns from the Keiskamma River with their hosts in a circle on the floor of the round hut.
The Social Entrepreneurship Trip was integral in solidifying the partnership between CDTM and the Keiskamma Art Project. As a result of the stay, the team was able to better understand the situation on site in Hamburg and developed relationships with the management and employees of the Trust for future projects.