APOprojekt, a specialist in tenant improvement projects, has been a member of the PATRIZIA Foundation’s Sponsor Circle for several years. The Hamburg-based company is now ramping up its involvement as a CSR partner by working on an extension project at the school in Peru. We spoke about the project with managing director Hendrik von Paepcke and the duo responsible for the initiative, project managers Christian Brüggemann and Vera Fontanella.
Hello Mr von Paepcke. What does corporate social responsibility mean to you?
One thing that should distinguish companies and business leaders is that they not only take responsibility for their fellow-workers, but also for society. The idea of APO Building Future is to do justice to this aim – which is also extremely important to me on a personal level – by consistently taking social responsibility. Not only does this entail providing financial resources, for us it also means investing our skills and passion in projects and making a difference. We want to put the literal meaning back into ‘building the future’.
Tell us more about the background of APO Building Future. When was it set up?
APO Building Future is still quite a new undertaking. We got off the ground last year and our aim is to really pick up momentum this year with our first project. We’re going to work together with the PATRIZIA Foundation and provide an extension for a school in the Peruvian rainforest. Our role at APOprojekt will be to provide the entire funding and take care of planning and delivering the project. Some of our staff also plan to travel to Peru in the summer to help with the construction work.
How much are you investing in the project?
Our financial investment is 250,000 euros. Then there’s the manpower investment in areas like planning and implementation.
Has APOprojekt been involved in any other child education initiatives before this project?
Yes. We’ve been a member of the Sponsor Circle since 2018, so we’ve already been supporting PATRIZIA Foundation projects in financial terms. When Alexander Busl told us about the PATRIZIA school in Sondoveni, we knew immediately that we wanted this to become our first CSR project and that we could provide even more specialist input – and give the children in the area an even better opportunity to receive an education.
And your colleagues – are they all on board?
You bet they are! I can hardly hold them back. When we showed them the project at our Christmas party they were immediately inspired by the idea. Lots of them offered their support immediately. It’s an extra effort for them, but it’s meaningful working on this project, and overall it’s unbelievably motivating, even for their everyday work.
Hello Ms Fontanella. Hello Mr Brüggemann. You both travelled out to Peru in November to see the PATRIZIA School in Sondoveni first hand. What were your first impressions of the school?
Vera Fontanella: When we first got there, we were completely overwhelmed by the local situation. The living conditions are much, much more basic and you immediately notice how lacking they are in lots of areas.
We received a really warm welcome from the community. Once we’d gained an overview of the situation there, we came up with some initial ideas for the sorts of measures that would need to be taken to improve the school and with that, what would need to be done to improve teaching conditions for the schoolchildren.
What are you planning specifically?
Christian Brüggemann: As well as extending the classrooms and the kitchen area, we’re also planning to add sanitary facilities and sleeping quarters for the teachers. We’re also looking into a home to offer a place to sleep at night for the kids that have a long journey to school. And then we also want to build a cistern to store rainwater and provide water supplies.
When will the school extension be built?
Christian Brüggemann: We’re currently working flat out on the planning side of things, so our colleagues are coming up with ideas and different concepts. The plan at the moment is to start putting things in place in July and August of 2020, depending on what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic of course. Our aim by that time is to at least have ‘tools at the ready’ so we can adapt according to the situation at hand. In all likelihood, we’ll have 20 of our APOprojekt colleagues in Peru working on the project themselves and our aim is for the building phase to take between six and eight weeks.
Are you also working with local partners?
Vera Fontanella: The PATRIZIA Foundation is overseeing the project. So that also includes negotiating with local partners. As well as dealing with the district council in Rio Negro, which works closely with the indigenous people of the Andes region, that also involves dealing with UGEL, the Peruvian education authority responsible for recruiting teaching staff, and also the chief councillor in Sondoveni itself. There are lots of indigenous people from the Asháninka tribe in the village, so they’re an important partner because it’s their children that are intended to benefit from the school extension. It’s particularly important to us to think about their interests and requirements.
CSR partner APOprojekt provides support at the PATRIZIA School in Sondoveni in Peru
Are you also looking for a CSR project, an initiative to participate in that would inspire your company and capture the imagination (and emotions) of staff? We’d be delighted to work with you on a project and join forces in improving the educational opportunities of children.