Array (  => April  => 29,  => 2020 )29April
Helfen.München: Looking forward today to tomorrow’s beer
Since the coronavirus has taken hold of Germany, a wave of solidarity has been rolling over the country. Within a very short time, companies, associations and private individuals have launched initiatives to help all kinds of people affected. Kathrin Khadra, a master’s student in electrical engineering and information technology at the Technical University of Munich, is one of the supporters. She initiated the platform Helfen.München – and a decisive factor made the project successful.
It was March 20, 2020, when the television news announced that several German states, including Bavaria, would tighten their protective measures due to the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Small groups would no longer be allowed to meet, restaurants would have to close.
That evening, Kathrin Khadra was sitting in front of the television with her father. To her it was immediately crystal clear that “the effects of these measures are affecting so many families, whole livelihoods are at stake here.” She was thinking about a way of helping those people. “We knew there would be government assistance. But it can take a while before it arrives,” the master’s student says in our interview. “So I wanted to activate people’s private assets.”
In one week, 20 volunteers came together and started working
What sounds cumbersome at first is actually quite simple: looking forward today to tomorrow’s beer. “We have developed the platform Helfen.München, where people can buy vouchers for the closed cafés, restaurants and shops,” Kathrin explains. Every Monday, the team transfers the respective revenues to the small businesses, which are listed on their platform. The vouchers can be redeemed by customers as soon as the shops are allowed to open again. “This way, the entrepreneurs are not completely without financial means during this hard time, and the customers receive the equivalent value as usual – only later,” says the Munich native, explaining the idea behind her initiative.
From having the idea, in the evening of March 20, to the moment of publishing the platform only two weeks passed. Within only one week the Helfen.München team of 20 volunteers was set up. Apart from the volunteers, the initiative received significant support from UnternehmerTUM, the start-up and innovation center at the Technical University of Munich. Founders and start-ups receive not only financial support, but above all get know-how. Furthermore: “The network is incredibly large. No matter what kind of contact you need, there is always someone who can help you,” Kathrin adds. She is active in UnternehmerTUM and is currently participating in the “Manage and More” program.
Suddenly, professionals became part of the initiative
In the Entrepreneurship Center on the Garching research campus, the Technical University of Munich and UnternehmerTUM are bundling their activities for start-ups under one roof. Here, the chairs of the TUM Entrepreneurship Research Institute apply their research findings directly to the promotion of start-ups. The Institute belongs to the TUM School of Management. “We inquired at UnternehmerTUM and spent several hours on the phone with coaches who gave us advice for our project,” Kathrin says. There is more to it than that. Graphic designers, web developers – a lot of people heard about Helfen.München via UnternehmerTUM and contacted Kathrin. They wanted to contribute their knowledge to the initiative. “That was great. Professionals were at work, without whom the website would certainly not look the way it does today.” UnternehmerTUM is clearly the decisive factor that made the initiative so successful.
The success of the project shows that Helfen.München was a good idea, Kathrin states. “We have already raised considerably more money for the listed shops and cafés than we could have ever dreamed of,” the master’s student says.
What will happen to the project when the shops open again? Then it will probably be over: “We have agreed in advance as a team that we will not make a profit out of it under any circumstances,” she says. “We simply want to help people through this time.”
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