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Boehringer Ingelheim India: Empowering changemakers

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Innovation is intrinsic to human nature but very often, the impact of these remain restricted to a small circle. A transformation is only possible if each innovator receives a helping hand to tide them over the growing pains. Boehringer Ingelheim’s CSR initiative, Making More Health, in partnership with Ashoka, has helped social entrepreneurs across the globe, implement new ideas to improve health in their communities, thus multiplying the impact of these innovations

CSR activities are about finding the right balance between a company’s business goals and social values and using the former to fund the latter, without comprising on either. Head-quartered in Germany, the 129-year-old Boehringer Ingelheim started their CSR initiative, Making More Health (MMH) in 2010.

“The four values (respect, trust, empathy and passion) characterise the very nature of Boehringer Ingelheim. Our main objective is to create a social impact in health, which will play a key role for patients and providers now and in the future.”
Sharad Tyagi
Chairman & Managing Director, Boehringer Ingelheim India

Speaking about the ethos behind the MMH and its link with the company’s culture, Sharad Tyagi, Chairman and Managing Director, Boehringer Ingelheim India, says, “Boehringer Ingelheim has a distinctive company culture that fosters innovation, drives high performance and encourages diversity, collaboration and mutual respect. The four values (respect, trust, empathy and passion) characterise the very nature of Boehringer Ingelheim. Together, all employees will further develop Boehringer Ingelheim’s culture, its most distinctive character, at the same time its most important competitive advantage, enabling the company to realise its vision: Value through Innovation. Making More Health is a part of it.”

The mission statement of MMH is to find innovative ways to bring more health to individuals, families and communities around the world. Explaining the essence of the initiative, Tyagi, says, “Consistent with Boehringer Ingelheim’s “Value through Innovation”, the vision of MMH is to identify new and better ways of improving health globally. Our main objective is to create a social impact in health, which will play a key role for patients and providers now and in the future.”

To achieve this goal, BI partnered with Ashoka, a global organisation, that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs. These are people with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since 1981, Ashoka has selected nearly 3,000 social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support and access to a global network of peers in more than 70 countries.

Through their innovative solutions, Ashoka Fellows help society re-envision what is possible; they inspire, recruit, and enable the world’s citizens to act as changemakers for the most pressing issues of our day. Through this work, Ashoka is building an ‘Everyone A Changemaker’ world. Tyagi adds that BI additionally works with local NGOs and social enterprises in several countries – depending on the company’s global and local MMH projects.

Combining business and social values

As a pharmaceutical company, BI knows about the challenges concerning healthcare delivery which exist across countries. And have chosen to make a difference by harnessing a collaborative approach.

“We believe that the most pressing problems in health around the world will require new types of collaborations between market-based companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and governments, which will build on their respective field-based experience to create new systems to improve health. This is why BI has embarked on a journey with Ashoka to explore the field-based activities of people around the world, known as ‘social entrepreneurs’, who implement new ideas to improve health in their communities. MMH is an initiative where business and social values can be combined to unleash innovation and achieve economic and social progress.”

Scope of MMH

The MMH activities include a series of programmes that identifies and support innovative health solutions.

The entire work is based on three main areas:

  • The continuous election of social entrepreneurs and integration into the MMH Network. Social entrepreneurs solve urgent social problems sustainably and on a large scale, for example, in fields like combating poverty, education, family, integration, human rights and environmental protection
  • The Youth Venture Programme engages young people in designing healthcare solutions for their communities so that they become changemakers
  • The Executive in Residence programme where BI employees actively support social entrepreneurs

BI in partnership with the Ashoka Foundation, has supported 50 social entrepreneurs (three of them in India) working with the community in the field of health. Across the world, 2200 employees of BI work on these projects in their own time to share their expertise. The Banyan, run by Vandana Gopikumar in Tamil Nadu, uses a community care approach to treat and rehabilitate mentally ill homeless women. Save Life Foundation, headed by Piyush Tewari, is creating a trained netwrk of trauma care first responders in Delhi. Sameer Sawarkar started Neurosynaptic Communciaitons to imporve access to healthcare in rural India through technology and he already has health kiosks running in Bihar and UP and a government hospital in Tamil Nadu.

As Tyagi sums up, “The vision of MMH is to identify new and better ways of improving health globally.”

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