Jacarandas in Full Bloom: SAP Social Sabbatical Team in Pretoria, South Africa

“The team has been here for two days, and they have already changed the way we think,” said Ilze Meintjes, Executive Director of Employment Solutions for People with Disabilities, an organization that gives disabled individuals an opportunity to work for a living. “They have breathed fresh air into our organization.”

Ilze’s comment was one of many similar statements that I heard from the three recipient organizations of the SAP Social Sabbatical program.  Employment Solutions, along with Free Trade in Tourism South Africa and PEN, were ecstatic about receiving teams of volunteers from SAP’s global employee pool for a one-month, skills-based pro bono volunteer assignment in Pretoria, South Africa.  The projects they are working on range from a marketing and communications plan to a strategic impact analysis overview to an entrepreneurship incubator methodology.

These volunteers cut across SAP, from countries as different as Ukraine, India, and the United States, to business units as diverse as communications, finance, and chemicals. Their participation in the Social Sabbatical, and the fact that SAP has invested the time and resources into such a program, is proof that their company is living their motto of “making the world run better.” CDC Development Solutions is the proud implementing partner and we are extremely happy and excited for the present and future of this program.

It is fitting that the team, known as Team Jacaranda, is spending the month of October in Pretoria right as the Jacaranda trees are in full, glorious purple bloom.  With three more weeks to go, the team is cautiously optimistic that while they might not change the world, South Africa, or Pretoria, they can improve the lives and work of a small slice of that pie.

“It is just fantastic that SAP is running a project like this, and we are so grateful to be a part of it,” said Martha Venter, Director of PEN, “we can’t wait to see what they come up with.”

The team is blogging and tweeting (#sapcsr) while on assignment.  Below are a few blogs already posted and each team members’ Twitter handle.




South Africa – Team Jacaranda
Julie Scanlon-Young – @JulieScanlon2
Amarnath Jayaraman – @jamarnath
Vatsala Kakroo – @vatsalakakroo
Frank Kochendoerfer – @fkochend
Philipp Koenig – @KoenigPhil
Saswato Das – @sdasSAP
Alexander Prus – @prusalex
Emily Gyory – @egyory
Suresh Ramanathan – @sapsuresh
Nathalie Magnier – @mag_nath
Jan Teichmann – @JanTeichmann1

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