| Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Entrepreneurship and Public Policy

The World Needs You

Master of Public Policy students pitched their ideas for social enterprises to a jury of experts at the Brandt School Social Impact Lab on January 30, 2024. The sixteen projects originated from Aletta Haniel Professor Heike Grimm’s class on Social Entrepreneurship. They aim to bring positive change to peoples’ lives in various target countries such as Malawi, Colombia, Germany, and Iran.

Very important to our educational philosophy at the Brandt School are a practice-oriented approach, and that students can already have real societal impact during their studies. “The Brandt School's Social Impact Lab has been designed as a collaborative environment for our Master of Public Policy students and is intended to serve as a launch pad for them to test and implement their social business ideas," explains Prof. Dr. Heike Grimm. "The aim of our presentation events is to present these ideas on the one hand, but also to discuss them with an audience of experts, potential financial supporters, and mentors, to get feedback and, above all, to network with each other."

The sixteen projects were presented by first year students of the Master of Public Policy. They ranged from

  • focusing on access to and better education for children,
  • a Colombia-based project to overcome power disadvantages in court after cases of gender-based-violence,
  • a clean water access program to break the cycle of short-term development projects in Malawi,
  • a social business to enable access to Nigeria’s labor market for people with disabilities,
  • initiatives to support international students in Germany,
  • boosting social integration of migrants, and
  • projects for online platforms and digital literacy trainings for several countries to increase rural and indigenous populations’ chances of economic independence and the preservation of otherwise dying crafts.

The students developed their projects during the winter semester and fostered their skills through special trainings, for example in design thinking.

Follow our bulletin blog to read more detailed project descriptions soon, or read this German language post on the University of Erfurt’s blog.

This year’s expert panel consisted of

  • Dr. Tobias Ernst, CEO of Kiron Open Higher Education GmhH,
  • Christiane Kilian, Chairwoman of Thuringia’s foundation for technology, innovation, and research (STIFT),
  • Tina Lagemann, director for partnerships and impact at Kinnings Foundation,
  • Markus Pins, CEO and founder of Engagementpreis-Stiftung, and
  • Dr. Nikolaus Seitz, managing director of Augsburg University’s startup hub.

They were greatly impressed by the entrepreneurial drive, social commitment, and creativity shown during the presentations. The experts gave instant feedback and questions to each project for further improvement. Key questions where how to measure the impact and success of the social enterprises, how to ensure their sustainability, and how to really empower marginalized groups beyond the economic aspect and without reenforcing preexisting gender and social roles.

The experienced guests concluded an inspiring afternoon by offering individual counselling, financial support, internship opportunities, and access to their networks to the social entrepreneurship students. As Markus Pins, founder and CEO of the Engagementpreis-Stiftung said: “Is the idea most relevant or is it the hard work that comes after it?” and Christiane Kilian of STIFT added, “Are you willing to go the extra mile?”

For those students willing to go that extra mile, there will be a follow up through individual conversations with our experts, Prof. Grimm and her team, and through an additional workshop and training during the summer semester.

“I wish you a lot of success. The world needs you.” (Tobias Ernst, CEO of Kiron Higher Education GmbH)