The people behind the names: Meet the empowering people. Network team

empowering.people Network team (f.l.t.r.): Carola Schwank, David Hoffmann, Dr. Beate Grotehans, Sabine Baumeister

The year has got off to a great start and we are just finalizing our plans for the epNetwork for the coming months – we have a lot to do this year! This of course means that you’ll be seeing (and certainly hearing from us) in person, but just to recap, and for those of your who haven’t met us personally yet, we thought, we’d just tell you a bit about ourselves and put a face behind the name. So next time one of us pops up in your inbox, you’ll know who’s calling;)

First off, our interaction with you is important. As you know, our Network has been founded to support entrepreneurs like yourselves: those who strive to make a difference to the daily lives of people living in the poorer regions of our planet. Our aim is to help you promote your solutions and products, support you in your networking activities and foster the transfer the technology where we can. We can do this better when we receive your feedback and your ideas. So do keep in touch, so we can integrate your input and find ways forward. Our team consists of people from various backgrounds and various skillsets – so by coming together we try and help you on as many levels as we can. So let’s open our virtual doors so you can come on in and meet us…

Meet Carola
Carola Schwank heads our empowering people. Network, which is one of two working areas of the Unit Development Cooperation. With over twenty years of professional experience in communication and corporate social responsibility at Siemens AG under her belt, Carola conceived and realized the first two Awards in 2012/13 and 2015/16. The running of these competitions means that she has a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by social entrepreneurs working at the base of the pyramid space. By identifying these challenges, she has continually built up and adapted the Network to respond to these needs.

Responsible for the Network’s strategic growth, Carola is proud of the development in the Network, the fact that there is a “growing feeling of community and interconnection between members”. She tells us “in the long term we see our Network as a vibrant organism with open doors for new social start-ups and social entrepreneurs. This year we will be developing new content tools for our training opportunities and workshops, and further looking to lend a helping hand to individuals. We know that we are strongest when we act with others and this is why we are fostering close international collaboration with relevant peer organizations to increase the impact of our work. It’s going to be an exciting year and one we’re certainly looking forward to!”

Meet Beate
With her academic background, Beate Grotehans is predestined to take the lead in research projects in the empowering people. Network. This includes, for example, the development of the online tool, SAMforSE – A Self-Assessment Manual for Social Entrepreneurs, here Beate defined the main core areas of focus relevant for social enterprises and the evaluation of each area by change-makers, which leads to vital insights. When strengths and possibilities for improvement have been identified, social entrepreneurs can apply for a voucher program and successful candidates receive a local business coach, who can provide support locally.
This exciting opportunity has been met with enthusiasm. “For the last months, there was a great demand of SAMforSE consulting vouchers mostly coming from female social entrepreneurs from Uganda. Social entrepreneurs are in need of orientation and support on their way to develop and improve their business. With the tool, they gain deeper insights of their businesses.” On a more personal level, Beate has understood that “business people love to tell stories. People ask for data but they really love stories. Our economy whether big or small whether social, ecological or for profit is not as rational as it supposed to be.“ In response to this, the epN offers seminars on Storytelling for social entrepreneurs…a great plus for all involved!

Meet Sabine
Senior project manager, Sabine Baumeister is one of the team members behind some of the online and most of the offline offerings provided by the Network. She is responsible for capacity building projects for the members of the epNetwork, such as the empowering people. Onsite and the empowering people. Workshop. For Sabine, these tasks provide her with a great insight into the lives of social enterpreneurs. “I really enjoy the personal contact to people from all over the world. It fills me with inspiration and puts me on a constant learning journey about differences, and most of all, similarities between all of us.” At the epOnsites, Sabine sees the development in the group dynamic. The most rewarding moment, she says, is when “the Network members, most strangers at the start, just click. This is when they start to connect and great things can start to happen.“ With her background in online media and corporate volunteering, Sabine develops strategy and feeds the social media channels for the Network – so if you have news, please contact her!

And last but not least, meet David
As a project manager in Development Cooperation, David contributes to the epOnsite trainings and is responsible for the website and the Solutions Database. Prior to this, he worked on development issues for the European Parliament and volunteered as project coordinator for humanitarian disaster aid missions. Working on the epExpert services, enabling qualified volunteers to help epN member organisations in the field in return for travel and accommodation, we asked what he thought about the program: “I’d love to go on each and every one of these missions! Unfortunately I have neither the time nor the expertise the projects are looking for, but as soon as the idea exchange with projects starts, I start dreaming.” And David wants to turn his dreams into reality, a vision for the future: “I basically grew up in the aftermath of 9/11 and the tsunami in Thailand in 2004. We know that there’s some much evil and bad in the world, but within the empowering people. Network, we have hundreds of people who want to change the world to a better one. And, that’s what inspires me most!”

So, this is your empowering people. Network team and we do believe in the strength of connection and networking. So next time you feel you need answers to some difficult questions, do remember that this Network spans the world, that many other social entrepreneurs may have faced the same challenges, that you can ask them, ask us and that the answer could just be a mail away…