Everyone is talking about Corporate Social Responsibility - or CSR in short - and one might think that social responsibility of businesses is the latest passion of economists.
Yet "the responsibility of companies for their effects on society", as the European Commission defines CSR, is actually a good old merchant tradition that has only been given new attention through appropriate legal requirements.
Already Aristotle explained in the first book of "Politics" that economic activity is not an intrinsic and in itself purposeful area, but a means to a good and right life. And also the merchants of earlier times knew about the importance of non-pecuniary assets and oriented their business activities towards the model of the "Honourable Merchant", which is oriented towards fair dealings with business partners and the entrepreneurial environment.
In the modern understanding, CSR is increasingly understood as a corporate concept that integrates all sustainability dimensions and also includes a company's social contributions to the voluntary fulfilment of social responsibility that go beyond compliance with legal requirements.
CSR commitment should not be seen by companies as an annoying compulsory task, but as a worthwhile investment. By assuming responsibility, companies invest in intangible assets such as trustworthiness, credibility or reputation and thus in essential conditions for their future success. CSR thus leads to a new way of working together in economy and society and forms the foundation of a modern social market economy.
"However, in order to successfully implement Corporate Social Responsibility as a company, one thing is indispensable today: a clear reference to one's own business activities is required," Michael Speckenbach (50), Managing Director of Bowspirit Kids, is convinced.
Companies that understand their CSR activities merely as "add-ons", as nice additional services that have nothing to do with the business model and the core business processes, fall short.
The Bowspirit Kids initiative now offers companies in the transport and tourism industry an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate their social commitment.
As the Bowspirit Kids intend to carry out their mission with an older car/passenger ferry, for the first time a means of transport will become the focus of a therapy concept.
At this very moment, trucks, trailers, containers or railway wagons are being transported across the oceans with such a vessel as part of the international logistics chains. Or tourists are shipped from A to B to enjoy their holidays at their destination or the sea journey itself.
And now seriously ill and traumatised children on board such a ship will learn to find a different perspective on the terrible events in their still young lives, learn to trust themselves again, are allowed to be kids again after exhausting therapies, are free to live again.
"What could be more obvious here for companies from the transport and tourism sectors than to set clear signals with appropriate business sponsorships that they are not only moving goods or giving guests a break from everyday life?", asks Speckenbach. By supporting the Bowspirit Kids, they will in future be able to care for other people with the help of a ship that could just as easily be part of their own business activities. They are thus closing a gap in the European social systems for the most vulnerable, namely sick or traumatised children.
Anyone who has ever seen a rehabilitation clinic from the inside knows that this is no place to be a kid. As the name implies, it is and will remain a clinic.
A "floating playroom" - in which you can get to know and visit areas from bow to stern that a guest would otherwise never see - is something completely different.
The ship's potential guests should be presented with an extraordinary offer, a voyage which hopefully will bring them into a healthy future, opening a new stage in their life's journey, so to speak.
With a ship you can actually not only transport goods, vehicles and people, but also overcome borders - boundaries between countries, in minds, between land and sea, but also between staying entrenched in trauma and arriving at a peace of mind.
"Both in the tourism sector and in the transport industry, sensitive people work who subject their lives to sometimes harsh conditions for the benefit of other people - transport customers as well as tourist guests," Speckenbach knows from his own experience.
It is a good time to send a widely visible signal to customers and employees that these individual hardships are not only a necessary evil in these industries, but can also serve the higher objective of turning kids' tears into tears of joy. - Yes, we care!
The Bowspirit Kids Group was founded in spring 2018 in Lübeck, Germany. Our activities focus on the creation of a maritime holiday and recreation camp that will give sick and traumatised children and their siblings - often called the "shadow children" - the opportunity to have fun and take a recreation from the illness. To this aim, we want to take advantage of the mobility of a passenger ferry to be able to operate outside of the base location in order to present the Bowspirit Kids Group and its work worldwide and to initiate further projects based on the guiding theme of a "recreation from illness".
The group has two companies - the non-profit company Bowspirit Kids gemeinnützige GmbH (www.bowspirit-kids.org) and the commercially managed Bowspirit Management GmbH (www.bowspirit-management.com), which are intertwined under company law in such a way that the profits generated cannot be distributed to shareholders, but are directed towards the overarching charitable objective.
The Bowspirit Kids Group intends not to base its activities solely on classical donations, but also to raise financial resources through social events and business sponsorships. In the fourth quarter of 2018, the campaign "The world's largest floating pinboard" was launched as kick-off event.