12/04/2008, Düsseldorf

 

Henkel supports families in Guatemala

Special project marks anniversary of employee volunteering program

The MIT initiative (Make an Impact on Tomorrow) is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The record is a proud one: More than 5,000 Henkel employees and retirees have been involved in some 7,000 projects in more than 110 countries. To mark this anniversary, Henkel will be providing special funding of 100,000 euros for a selected project. From the 86 applications, the “HELPS Changing Lives” project in Guatemala was chosen. The subsidy and the active support of a local MIT team will now help 120 families to help themselves.

Through the MIT initiative, Henkel has been supporting volunteer work by its employees and retirees for more than 10 years now. The establishment of MIT was the beginning of a success story: Through donations amounting to around 13 million euros, more than 68,000 children – plus many members of often neglected fringe groups of society – have been helped. In addition to financial support, Henkel assists its employees with their projects through in-kind and product donations or paid time off from work. Their commitment makes Henkel employees and retirees all over the world into a vital link between the Company and the communities in which it operates.

Numerous applications for the anniversary project
In 2008, as a special gesture to mark MIT’s 10th anniversary, a selected project will be granted an extraordinary subsidy of 100,000 euros. Henkel employees and retirees from 22 countries, from Brazil to Vietnam, submitted 86 project applications. The jury applied stringent criteria in making its selection: The project’s country had to be one in which Henkel has a site of its own. “Otherwise a project of this magnitude cannot be professionally managed and supported,” says Christa Büchler, Head of Corporate Donations at Henkel. “Furthermore,” she adds, “the employee who will be taking care of the project must have experience in volunteer work.” The aim of the anniversary project is to create new perspectives for those affected and have a long-term effect. “Another important aspect for us was the need experienced by the local people. By implementing projects like these, we also wish to make a contribution toward achievement of the eight global development goals of the United Nations,” explains jury member Fridtjof Helemann, Corporate Vice President Human Resources at Henkel.

The special thing about the anniversary project is the fact that an international MIT team will be supporting Henkel employee Kirsten Sánchez Marín and her colleagues in Guatemala. Employees from various countries and continents will implement a part of this project jointly. This collaboration will further strengthen the expansion of the international MIT network.

HELPS Changing Lives – 100,000 euros for 120 families in Guatemala
Guatemala is a very poor, rural country. According to information provided by the government, 90 percent of the population live in poverty. HELPS Changing Lives helps communities to fight poverty, the dangerous use of open fires, the lack of clean water, and the low agricultural productivity. The program for 120 families includes various components, such as improvement of the infrastructure, access to educational and health facilities, and training the people how to cultivate grain. Applicant Kirsten Sánchez Marín has been working for Henkel for 10 years, the past two years in Guatemala.

The 39-year-old has already implemented four other MIT projects supported by Henkel, in Mexico, Argentina and Georgia. Having made several trips to the rural regions of her new home, Guatemala, the poverty and hopelessness she witnessed among the villagers she met particularly saddened her. “Life is especially difficult for women in Guatemala,” Sánchez Marín explains. “They are married off at a very young age and have little opportunity to obtain an education. Once they have given birth to several children, they are often abandoned overnight by their husbands. Through education, we can make it possible for these women to support themselves. I am looking forward to working on this project, which is to be carried out jointly by the community, the HELPS organization and Henkel.”

HELPS International
The U.S. aid organization HELPS International has been initiating self-help programs since 1984. Programs involving health, education, economic development, agriculture and environmental protection are developed and carried out in line with local needs. HELPS aims are to increase freedom, stability, and personal opportunities for the indigenous people in Latin America and lastingly reducing poverty there. To ensure that these objectives can be achieved and maintained, HELPS International works with other non-profit organizations, companies, local entities, and national governments. For further information, go to: www.helpsintl.org

Henkel Smile and MIT in 2009
In addition to the anniversary project, the activities of Henkel Smile, the Henkel corporate citizenship program – with its three core elements, MIT (employee engagement), Henkel Friendship Initiative (emergency fund) and Social Partnerships (company and brand engagement) – will continue unchanged. Of the 86 applications for the anniversary project, which testify to great need and at the same time to great commitment on the part of employees, 74 projects will be suggested to receive the annual MIT grants. For these and other MIT projects worldwide, 1.65 million euros will be allocated in 2009. 1306 projects were subsidized in 2008.

Henkel reports comprehensively on its corporate citizenship engagement at http://www.henkel.com/smile


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