Sustainable growth

Life needs growth. Many biological processes are based on cell growth. It is also similar in an economy. A society that produces more than it consumes may sell or exchange the surplus. Economists therefore agree that economic growth creates prosperity. But there is no definitive answer to the question of what price we are willing to pay for growth. 

Sustainability means safeguarding resources and the environment, using only what grows back – just like in a forest. This requires long-term thinking and lays the groundwork for economic growth that will not harm future generations. With this principle of substance preservation, the focus is not on quick profits, but on long-term business development which benefits Germany and its regions – across national boundaries. What kind of support do companies need in order for them to grow sustainably?

Frankfurt / Oder

No borders, no barriers

Savings Banks are advocates of sustainable economic growth, both in Germany and beyond. Take Frankfurt/ Oder, for example, where the Savings Banks' German- Polish Cooperation Office supports enterprises on both sides of the border. This support was used by the Fröbel Group, which runs day nurseries and after-school child-care centres.

 

The team, headed by Marta Sztelmach-Więcek, assists German and Polish enterprises in getting established in the respective neighbouring country.

For Stefan Spieker, Managing Director of Fröbel Group, the international focus of his business is a matter that is very close to his heart.

Children start to learn a second language as early as possible at the nurseries and kindergartens of the Fröbel Group, a non-profit organisation that runs 140 childcare centres for over 12,000 children. “That second language does not have to be English. In Frankfurt/Oder we apply a German­Polish concept,” says Stefan Spieker, the organ­ isation’s managing director. Expanding the successful model to Poland was a logical step for him. “We want to learn from our neighbours and tap new potential.”

However, before the Fröbel Group opened its first kinder­ garten in Poznan in December 2014, it had to overcome a number of hurdles. Germany is not the only country with strict laws and regulations for childcare facilities. Also in Poland, countless permits and certificates are required to run a daycare centre. “Plus, we had to find the right partner in Poznan.

The Savings Banks’ German-Polish Cooperation Office helped us with all of that,” said Mr Spieker. Marta Sztelmach-Więcek’s team of bilingual experts not only helped Fröbel to find the right banking account, but also recommended tax consultants and legal advice.

The most valuable assets for the Fröbel Group were the team’s extensive knowledge and their contacts in Poland. Mr Spieker describes some of his struggles: “It is not easy to find an equivalent to our non-profit legal structure in other countries, so we had to do a lot of rethinking.” The Savings Banks’ German-Polish Cooperation Office, a member of the international S­CountryDesk network of the Savings Banks Finance Group, helped to negotiate many obstacles. This left Mr Spieker impressed with the “high level of competence in international business displayed by the Savings Banks”, which, according to Mr Spieker, facilitated the foundation of Froebel Polska.

Today, it’s child's play for Polish children to attend the Frö­ bel kindergarten in Poznan. The only thing that separates them from the children at the kindergarten in Frankfurt/ Oder is the distance of 180 kilometres – if they were to meet in a playground they could communicate effortlessly, as their early bilingual education has lifted the language barrier.

"Expertise for children" – this is the guiding principle for teaching work with children at all locations.