Do good and talk about it!

When Manuela Pastore, our global head of "Making More Health" (MMH), travelled to India on business several years ago, she became acquainted with the activities of local non-profit organizations. The great commitment of the people on the subcontinent left a lasting impression on her, but also a bitter aftertaste.

"It was clear to me that many of the social projects were doomed to fail”, Pastore says. "They simply didn’t have enough financial or logistical support”. From her business trip, Manuela Pastore brought home a bag full of dreams – and set to work turning them into reality.

Amazing enthusiasm

The idea: Boehringer Ingelheim employees would form teams to jointly tackle a social project of their own choosing – without any pressure from above, but with the support of the company. Manuela Pastore's suggestion was well received among her MMH colleagues, and it soon became clear that Boehringer Ingelheim already had a number of specific project ideas. Thus, a pre-selection had to be made. So why not simply announce a competition? Soon thereafter, "Bag2thefuture" was born.

This year marked the MMH-initiated competition’s second installment. In total, 23 applications were received from twelve countries, and nine finalists were ultimately selected. The ideas ranged from better drinking water supplies and sustainable animal breeding to educational programs for children. The applicants had to win over a jury. The submissions were evaluated according to criteria such as innovativeness, social impact and feasibility.

"It's amazing to see the enthusiasm and passion with which the employees are devoting their energies outside of work”, says Manuela Pastore. "Innovative strength and diversity are firmly anchored at Boehringer Ingelheim". This can especially be seen in this year's winners.

Help for Africa

The "Water for Life" project, for example, focuses on the inhabitants of a small village in Algeria, who have to travel up to ten kilometers to get drinking water for their daily needs. The "Water for Life" team plans to build a well for the village, and thus make their lives easier. This is to be accompanied by extensive hygiene and health training.

The Germany-based "Operation Future" team wants to provide help, too. In some African countries, girls are still subjected to life-threatening circumcisions. The aim of the team is to educate girls and women on how to avoid or surgically reverse this mutilation.

For humans and animals

In the spirit of "helping people to help themselves", the teams from "Healthy Cows, Happy Farmers" and "Uganda Poultry Production Training" are committed to supporting dairy farmers in India and poultry farmers in East Africa, respectively. The aim is to train farmers in sustainable animal breeding using innovative learning programs.

In turn, the "Meow!" project focuses on the welfare of street cats in Barcelona. In cooperation with the Suara Foundation, the Spanish project team wants to improve local cats' living conditions and support the "Suara Cat House" with donations.

Education and awareness

Through the "Learning with a Pet" and "Learning Life Lessons through Play" projects, two teams hope to promote the education of disadvantaged children – with the help of pets and games, respectively.

The team behind "Learning-set for Better and Safer Use of Medicines" plans to improve awareness, too. Due to a lack of information, many patients in Brazil suffer from the unwanted side effects of medicines. The project team's goal is to train healthcare professionals and thus promote the prudent use of medicines among patients.

Lastly, the "Protecting the Future of the Arctic" project focuses on tackling everyday but nonetheless serious problems: through an information campaign, the Danish colleagues hope to reduce the number of young smokers in Greenland.

The next steps

Now the teams can't wait to start implementing their project ideas. To help them do so, they will receive continuous support from Boehringer Ingelheim in the form of workshops and coaching sessions – plus initial funding of up to 5,000 euros. "Bag2thefuture will lastingly improve transparency and cooperation between colleagues”, says Manuela Pastore. And the facts prove her right: there have already been numerous inquiries about the next "Bag2thefuture" competition, which is scheduled for late 2021.