In 2018, the federal government has found that around 7.8 million people in Germany are severely disabled [1]. Were you aware that these people face enormous problems in their everyday lives and often feel excluded from society when they cannot access the same places that you go to every day? That is why, during this year’s Social Entrepreneurship Elective, a group of 14 students at CDTM worked on projects for the social business Sozialhelden from Berlin.  

In the last week of July 2019, we took an early train from Munich to Berlin. There, we met the team of the social start-up Sozialhelden e.V., an organization, which works on projects aimed to improve the situation of people with disabilities. One of their core projects is “wheelmap” which focuses on improving the availability of data about the accessibility of points of interest. It is an app that shows a rating of the accessibility of, for example, a movie theater using a traffic light system. Sozialhelden introduced their current projects and possible new projects to us so that we could choose which project we want to work on. After choosing our projects and forming teams we began our work. Fast forward to our final presentation on Friday morning, where we presented our results of the week to the team of Sozialhelden:

Inclus.io – a detailed accessibility information, assessment, and recommendation app

Team inclus.io presented the prototype of an app that can help owners of points of interest such as restaurant owners to assess the accessibility of their location. Meanwhile, the app gathers more extensive data for wheelmap to offer detailed accessibility information. At the same time, the app gives suggestions on how these places can easily improve their accessibility for example with cheap mobile ramps or accessible websites. This was accompanied by a market entry strategy on how Sozialhelden can reach many restaurants. Examples included joint campaigns with platforms such as TripAdvisor and lobby associations that could encourage their members to use inclus.io.

 

UX Allies – focused consulting projects to improve the accessibility of physical goods

The UX Allies worked on a strategy on how Sozialhelden can structure its consulting services to help companies make their products accessible for disabled customers. For example, when withdrawing money, many wheelchair users need to give their PIN to strangers because they cannot reach the keypad of the ATM resulting in a terrible user experience. The new offering made it possible that Sozialhelden can better market its consulting services in the design process of products to corporates hopefully avoiding problems like in our  ATM example. Additionally, a framework was developed which outlines which tasks need to be accomplished in a certain phase of these projects.

 

Center Life – Enjoying Berlin And Networking With Alumni

A major part of the CDTM is its community life and the numerous opportunities for socializing with like-minded Centerlings. Thus, we also had some free time to explore vibrant Kreuzberg and other parts of Berlin with fellow classmates. This ranged from rooftop bars, pizzas at the Görlitzer Park and exploring the club scene of Berlin. After the hackathon, some students extended their stay in Berlin to enjoy the weekend and mingled with alumni who moved to Berlin.

Social Entrepreneurship Elective: Students mingling in a restaurant

 

Preparation – Learning About Social Entrepreneurship

Before we started the trip, we had two sessions in Munich in which we learned more about social entrepreneurship and how to develop a self-sustaining business model with a social purpose. Thereby we met the founders of different social start-ups who told us about their motivations, inspiring stories of their social start-ups and about the differences between social and for-profit start-ups.

 

Apart from Social Entrepreneurship: Other Electives – Extending the curriculum

Courses such as the Social Entrepreneurship Elective are part of the entrepreneurship study program which is offered by the CDTM. Next to the three main courses (Trend Seminar, Managing Product Development, Entrepreneurship Laboratory), every student completes three electives. These allow students to learn about topics in a short amount of time and extend their horizons. Other examples of past electives include a hackathon on smart contracts, and learning about leadership and one’s values.

[1] https://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Gesellschaft-Umwelt/Gesundheit/Behinderte-Menschen/_inhalt.html