The Foundation of German Business

The Foundation of German Business (Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft), called SDW for short, was founded in 1994 upon the initiative of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA). Among the major players behind SDW are German business associations and the family of Dr. Klaus Murmann, business leader and former BDA president. Furthermore a supporting association of SDW was founded in 1996. Currently, around 80 companies are members of the association.

All SDW activities aim to provide young people with the best possible conditions for a good start to a successful and fulfilling professional career. An issue especially important to SDW is the advancement of entrepreneurial thinking and socially responsible action: In its programmes and projects, SDW encourages young people to be focused about their personal development and to show self-initiative, willingness to innovate and courage in the face of risks. Likewise, SDW is committed to strengthening the participants’ sense of social responsibility.

SDW does not grant funds or donate money to other institutions. Rather, the foundation seeks suitable sponsors and partners to develop its own educational initiatives and to expand programmes that are already in operation. Cooperation partners include federal and state governmental institutions, other large foundations, companies, business associations and corporate educational institutions. Moreover, SDW works closely together with schools, universities and other academic institutions.

The financing of SDW comes from different sources: Revenues from the capital stock form the basis. Further funding is provided by the supporting association, whose members pay in annual contributions. SDW also receives donations. In addition, cooperation partners from the public and private sector invest in joint projects and programmes, and the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) provides grant funds for SDW’s scholarship schemes for gifted students.

Studienförderwerk – The Klaus Murmann Fellowship Programme

The core element of the Foundation of German Business (SDW) is its Klaus Murmann Fellowship Programme. It is named after the business leader Dr. Klaus Murmann, former president of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) and largest philanthropist of the foundation.

Within the framework of the Klaus Murmann Fellowship Programme, SDW offers scholarships to approximately 1200 students and doctoral candidates from all subject areas. They receive financial support in the form of scholarships and additional funds for study years or internships in foreign countries. Parallel to their undergraduate or doctoral studies, the scholarship holders participate additionally in a comprehensive auxiliary programme. While the scholarships are funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the development programme for high potentials is funded by SDW and other entrepreneurial philanthropists. The goal of SDW is to prepare especially talented and committed young people for future leadership positions in industry and business or other areas of society.

To be admitted into the fellowship programme, undergraduate and PhD students must exhibit certain qualities and fulfil certain requirements: Besides above-average academic achievements, applicants must exhibit initiative and social commitment, e.g. in associations, social institutions or in the field of politics. Applicants should also exhibit social competence, have a well-founded education, be able to work in a team and have good communication skills. The sponsorship of SDW is aimed at open-minded young people with an international orientation who consciously seek an exchange with other cultures. The scholarship winners are selected twice a year in a two-stage selection process, the second stage of which is an assessment centre.

Students and doctoral candidates who are successful in this selection process can look forward to a stimulating time in the Klaus Murmann Fellowship Programme (Studienförderwerk Klaus Murmann), which usually lasts until completion of the course of study or doctorate. All fellowship recipients are integrated into fellowship groups which are organised at their university locations and which develop their own activities. Furthermore, the fellowship recipients participate in a variegated event programme, which SDW organises in close cooperation with companies and business associations. This programme includes seminars on sociopolitical topics, training sessions and workshops on key competences, as well as events in which the dialogue with companies stands in the foreground.

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