HOW OUR JOURNEY BEGAN…
180DC Lund started with a question: How can we make a positive difference in society while using the underestimated and idle potential of students? To answer this question, we must take a step back, namely to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. This is the place where I, Frank Schönberg, did my bachelor’s in Economics and Business Administration and where I was part of the 180DC Frankfurt Branch for over three years. Within this time, I enhanced my soft and hard skills, made friends for a lifetime, and helped social organizations to overcome their obstacles to increase the created social impact.
You may now ask yourself: what is 180DC then exactly? It is the world’s largest consultancy for non-profits and social enterprises with over 150 branches in over 35 countries with Lund being now one of them. This means that we are part of a large global network that supports us, on the one hand, but being mostly independent in our operations and organizational structure as an individual branch, on the other hand. Therefore, I exported the idea of 180DC from Frankfurt to Lund, where I am currently doing my master’s in Innovation and Global Sustainable Development, because I wanted to enable students to make the same positive experiences that I have made. At the same time, I saw the great potential for 180DC to flourish in the sustainability and innovation-driven area of Skåne, the south of Sweden. Thus, Lund constituted the perfect location to establish a new branch of 180DC. I pitched the idea to my program and beyond, through which I got myself a competent co-founding team consisting of seven Board Members: 1 President, 2 Marketing Directors, 2 Consulting Directors, 1 HR Director, and 1 Legal and Finance Director. We conducted market and competitor analyses, set up finance, recruiting, and marketing strategies, and came up with an organizational structure that is adapted to the unique Swedish culture. In December 2019, after a multi-stepped application process, we finally received approval from the Global Team for the establishment of the Lund branch which is when our exceptional growth and success story started.
WHAT WE ACHIEVED SO FAR
Within this first semester operating, we attracted many students from different study backgrounds, out of which we picked 10 Consultants via a multi-stage application process. Moreover, we successfully conducted two projects with one NGO and one renewable energy start-up and gained the official legal status as a non-profit organization under Swedish law. On top of that, we managed to establish a partnership with one of the world’s best and largest consultancies which provides our Consultants with various workshops and fruitful mentorships. Moreover, we became part of AF, the Academic Society in Lund, which recognized us as an official student association and provided us with a get-started fund to cover our running costs for the first semester. To maintain long-term financial stability, we have now established a collaboration with Lund University’s Sustainable Future Hub.
Even though we had to face several challenges along the way, with the Covid-19 pandemic being one of the major ones, we managed to steer our organization in the right direction, adapted to the fast-changing environment, and undertook several preventive and reactive measures. For instance, we moved all our operations to an online format which includes board meetings, jours fixes, workshops, team meetings, and mentor sessions while trying to keep up the motivation by including social events, alternating online formats, and sessions for the people to socialize and connect. Despite these circumstances, we decided to increase our social impact and to offer this unique 180DC experience to even more students by drastically scaling up our branch’s operations. In our current second semester, we are conducting four projects as compared to two in the prior semester with 16 instead of 10 Consultants. The clients are two health-tech start-ups, one environmental start-up, and a big Swedish NGO. In times of global crises such as the current pandemic, social commitment, entrepreneurship, and taking action are more important than ever, which is why we are proud to contribute by helping social organizations to overcome their challenges and thrive despite their current hardship.
GET ACTIVE! USE YOUR POTENTIAL! JOIN 180DC!
The world needs you! – It does not matter what you are studying or where you are from, every individual has her strengths and we can help you to improve and use them for the greater cause. One of our key values is diversity because we are convinced that heterogenous teams exhibit enhanced problem-solving capabilities while offering increased personal development opportunities for the individual. This is why in our first semester operating, our organization consisted of members with 9 different nationalities, coming from 6 different study backgrounds of which 78% were master and 22% bachelor students while maintaining a gender balance with 56% female and 44% male students. This is important because we are more than just an organization or a network, we are a community consisting of individuals with diverse experiences that are yet united and driven by the same set of values, headed by social impact and sustainability.
With this being said, I would like to come back to the question stated at the beginning of how we can make a positive difference in society while using the underestimated and idle potential of students. The answer is 180 DC Lund! And by this, I do not only mean the organization itself but the mindset, values, and idea behind it. To make a long-lasting positive impact, we need to rethink society and our human behavior. At 180DC we combine a unique learning experience for students with helping social enterprises to become better at what they are doing so that they can in return help even more people or protect the environment more efficiently – a sui generis win-win-win situation! Therefore, if you are a social organization in need of a student that wants to contribute to a better world, do not hesitate to contact us because we look forward to welcoming you onboard along our journey towards a more sustainable future that has just begun!
Second year master’s student in Innovation and Global Sustainable Development at Lund University. The author holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and Business Administration from Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany. Frank is the Co-founder and President at 180 Degrees Consulting Lund.