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Putting People First

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As a sustainable company and corporate citizen, ZF has long felt the obligation to give something back to society – with a focus on the most vulnerable. Read on to learn more about three recent examples of ZF’s charitable work.
Frank Thoma,
Frank Thoma has been corporate editor at ZF since 2011. With a degree in journalism, he has been planning, writing and editing articles for all of the company’s internal, external media.
Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, we almost lost sight of the suffering in more remote regions of the world amidst all the concern about our own health and future. But that’s not what happened at ZF. Since 2005, the employees and the Board of Management have been giving their support to relief projects around the world through “ZF hilft.”, an association founded especially for this purpose. Through “ZF hilft.”, the company has provided 12 million euros to support relief projects to date. However, this association is not only involved in long-term projects but can also act on a short-term basis, if required. One of the most recent examples is the emergency coronavirus aid program for India.

100,000 euros as coronavirus emergency aid for India

Since the end of April 2021, Indian colleagues from ZF and from the media have been reporting on the coronavirus-related humanitarian disaster in India. Television images have shown long lines of private cars and ambulances carrying Covid patients who are waiting outside overcrowded hospitals. In addition, there were many calls for help in regard to the provision of medical oxygen, ventilators and even the basic necessities to aid patients and their families. In order to help do something to alleviate the suffering, “ZF hilft.” decided to donate 100,000 euros as emergency aid. Sabine Jaskula, Chief Human Resources Officer at ZF, says: “There is reason for hope, but we still have a long road ahead of us – especially in countries that are suffering so immensely, as is the case in India. In this situation, we also provide vaccinations, transportation services, medical treatment and psychological care.”
“Help e. V.” in Hyderabad, a long-standing project partner of “ZF hilft.”, monitors the use of the funds. “ZF hilft.” always cooperates with reputable local partners in order to ensure that the donations actually reach those in need. “Help” is able to very quickly provide the people on site with what they urgently need: sanitary products, coronavirus tests, masks, medicines and oxygen. However, there is also need for food, camping stoves and tarpaulins. This aid is vital especially for the poorest of the poor in the country – residents of slums, single mothers and all acutely ill patients in the community hospitals, of course.

Mobility for Zimbabwe. Helping others help themselves

The example of “Mobilized Communities” in Zimbabwe, South Africa, with the organization of World Bicycle Relief (WBR), demonstrates what long-term cooperation on a relief project can achieve. “ZF hilft.” established its first contact with WBR in 2015. To commemorate ZF’s 100th anniversary, the anniversary campaign “100 Years, 100 Schools” was created as an educational project that involved employees and the Company donating some 2.4 million euros. This money was largely used to build new schools and train teachers in various parts of the world. 675,000 euros of the total went to support World Bicycle Relief, which manufactured sturdy bicycles to give to students in Africa. These bicycles make it easier for boys and girls to travel the many kilometers necessary to get to school – or to even have the opportunity to attend school at all.

A region becomes holistically mobile

A region becomes holistically mobile

For those responsible at ZF, simply continuing the successful bicycle project for young students was out of the question. Together with World Bicycle Relief, the concept of “Mobilized Communities” was developed, which is to be understood as a program to support “mobility for all.” The mobility project is located in the district surrounding the town of Hwange in the far northwest of Zimbabwe, where people live in widely scattered hamlets. After a needs assessment was conducted with the contact persons responsible on site, the plan was to provide bicycles not only for schoolchildren but also for health sector workers, nurses, conservation rangers, farmers and skilled craftsmen. The goal was to significantly expand the mobility range accessible to each individual. The particularly rugged bicycles with a carrying capacity of 100 kilograms are also a means of transporting goods to the local markets. Local committees are responsible for ensuring that the bicycles are used as intended. Mechanics were specially trained by WBR on site to assemble the delivered bicycles and then keep the bicycle fleet in good working order.
575000 US dollars
„ZF hilft.“ contributes to the total budget of 900.000 US dollars for the project „Mobilized Communities“ in Simbabwe. Of this money, 1.600 bicycles will be purchased.

World Bicycle Relief’s “Mobilized Communities” plans to distribute a total of 1600 bicycles to eligible men, women and children in the Hwange region. WBR attaches great importance to the fact that more than two-thirds of the recipients of the bicycles are female. In the meantime, more than 800 bicycles have already been distributed. “ZF hilft.” is contributing 490,000 euros, roughly 575,000 US dollars, to the total three-year project budget of 900,000 US dollars. “As an expert in sustainable mobility, we took great interest in the idea that relatively simple micromobility can make a vital contribution to a region’s economic and social development. This project could soon be imitated around the world,” says ZF’s Susanne Obert.

Burkina Faso and Mali: aid to be provided on a wide array of levels

Something that is even more comprehensive than the mobility project “Mobilized Communities” in Zimbabwe is the relief project with the somewhat unwieldy name of “Resilience and Income Generation in the Sahel Zone – Six Approaches to Sustainable Development.” “ZF hilft.” is sponsoring this YOU Foundation project in Burkina Faso and Mali, launched in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in July 2020, with funds totaling 270,000 euros. These two West African countries are among the ten poorest countries in the world.

The project follows a six-point approach to provide lasting improvement to the living situation of the local population, with the work including the construction of small-scale, sustainable farms along with communication of the knowledge necessary to operate them successfully. Both approaches will bolster the economy and thus increase food security for the people living there. The project package also includes measures to improve mobility and logistics. Investments in education and environmental protection represent another key factor in safeguarding the future. Particularly among young people, sports programs provide a controlled manner in which aggression can be reduced, they foster team spirit and cultivate respect for each other. All of this then facilitates cultural exchange and contributes to the peaceful coexistence of various social groups. This relief project demonstrates how diverse the approaches must be in order to have a chance at finding solutions to complex problems.