The Otto Group takes responsibility beyond its business activity for its social environment. In Germany, the Group supports young talent and first-time professionals with social projects. Internationally, it is active against child labour in India, for example. The foundations created by Prof Dr Michael Otto promote fair trade and the responsible handling of natural resources.
For more than 25 years the Environmental Foundation Michael Otto has paved the way for future-oriented solutions in the areas of environmental protection and nature conservation. Its goal is to preserve a liveable environment for future generations. To achieve this, it invests in education and research for environmentally friendly action and supports projects for the preservation of rivers, lakes, meadows and wetlands. The Foundation engages in dialogue and exchange with non-profit organisations, government, science and industry. Among others, it promotes the project F.R.A.N.Z. (the German acronym ‘Für Ressourcen, Agrarwirtschaft & Naturschutz mit Zukunft’ – in English, Promoting Resources, Farming and Nature Conservation with a Future) for greater biodiversity in farming. In addition, the Foundation was a key co-founder of the platform Foundations 20, an association of over 30 international foundations devoted to greater climate protection and a global energy revolution.
Since 2004 the Environmental Foundation Michael Otto has been organising the Hamburg Talks for Nature Conservation. These aim to stimulate social debate on important environmental issues, to raise awareness of nature conservation issues and to develop integrated national and international approaches to solutions. The Foundation creates a platform for this and brings together influential representatives from science, business, civil society and politics at one table. The symposium thus enables an intensive social debate far beyond the day of the event.
The Aid by Trade Foundation was founded in 2005 by Prof Dr Michael Otto. Under the credo to help people help themselves through trade it stands for an innovative approach that focuses on activating market forces instead of relying on charity. Together with various partners from industry, government, research and non-governmental organisations, the foundation makes a significant contribution towards combatting poverty and protecting the environment. Beyond supporting sustainable cultivation of agricultural and forestry products, the long-term aim is to further develop the value chains in those countries where the raw materials are produced in order to generate maximum added value.
Both the "Cotton made in Africa“ and "The Good Cashmere“ standards operate under the umbrella of the Aid by Trade Foundation and enable it to put its goals into practice. Instead of collecting donations, an alliance of textile companies and brands is formed, which purchases the sustainable raw material at normal market prices and pays a licence fee to use our seal. The foundation reinvests income from licences in accordance with its foundation goals.
Cotton made in Africa is a standard for sustainable cotton from Africa. Since its inception in 2005, it has been committed to environmental protection and improved living and working conditions of smallholder cotton farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.
"The Good Cashmere" is a standard for sustainable cashmere produced in Inner Mongolia encompassing animal welfare, social criteria and ecological sustainability. Since September 2019 the consultation phase has been completed.
Initiated by Prof Dr Michael Otto and established in 2012, the Foundation 2° brings together prominent business leaders who work on climate change mitigation. Foundation 2° has set itself the goal of supporting policymakers in establishing effective market-economy framework conditions for climate protection and in activating the solution competence of German companies for climate protection. At the heart of the Foundation is the one big goal that gave the initiative its name: limiting the average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
In 2016, for example, the Foundation published statements on the federal government's Climate Action Plan 2050 as well as on the topic of carbon consensus. Before the crucial meeting of the Climate Cabinet in Berlin in 2019, it published a position paper for an ambitious climate protection law as an opportunity for innovation and planning security. The annual conference of the Foundation was held in November under the motto "Investing in Climate Protection: the Business Model of the Century" with around 300 guests from politics, business and associations.
Together with the Salut Salon ensemble, the Otto Group has created an unusual music project for children and young people in Hamburg in 2008. It teaches them about classical music in a playful way and motivates them to make music in choirs and orchestras. Young musicians can join a district choir for free, for example, or learn instruments. In addition, The Young ClassX offers numerous music workshops and transports children to concerts in the ‘MusikMobil’.
The Young ClassX has already inspired more than 30,000 children and teenagers for music. This is made possible by unique people who support and accompany the project with passion, commitment and responsibility. The project is also supported by the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall and the Authority for Education and Vocational Training. The Young ClassX is the winner of the German Culture Prize 2019.
finlit foundation gGmbH is our recently established non-profit organisation. Since November 2019 it has been committed to ensuring better financial literacy in everyday life as a means of preventing excessive personal debt. The organisation is pursuing this ambitious goal as the first non-profit company of the EOS Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Otto Group. EOS is one of the largest debt collection companies worldwide and has sound expertise in the debt environment. By the time EOS gets involved in providing support to defaulting payers they are often in a very difficult situation. The finlit foundation is focusing on early awareness-raising about handling money, so that people don’t end up in the debt trap in the first place. The finlit foundation’s first initiative is called “ManoMoneta” and aims to give children aged 9 to 13 real-life skills for dealing with money and finances. To this end it provides teachers and schools in Germany with a high-quality modular teaching programme that enables financial literacy to be taught in a very simple way.