Antje von Dewitz, CEO of the outdoor brand Vaude, has been a member of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) Board of Trustees for more than five years. Last month, she was elected as deputy chairwoman for a further five years.
Chairwoman Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter said, “Antje von Dewitz uniquely exemplifies the idea and success of sustainable business practices that are as consistent as they are creative. The German Federal Environmental Foundation is extremely pleased that such a high-profile entrepreneur will be involved in shaping the future of Europe’s largest environmental foundation.”
As one of the largest foundations in Europe, the DBU promotes innovative and solution-oriented projects for the protection of the environment, striving to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, to undertake new activities and help them overcome initial hurdles.
Its funding is intended to help reduce the financial risk of ecological innovations to a tolerable level. Funded projects should achieve sustainable results in practice, be an impetus and lead to a ‘multiplier effect’.
It also awards the German Environmental Prize of € 500,000, the most lucrative environmental prize in Europe. Since the foundation began its work in 1991, the DBU has provided funding of over €1.76bn to more than 9,700 environmentally-friendly, innovative model projects.
von Dewitz noted, “The DBU supports small and medium-sized enterprises in implementing ecological solutions and innovations. This is precisely where most fail in practice. The ideas are there, but for smaller companies in particular, there is a high economic risk involved in implementation.
“Accordingly, it is difficult to obtain financing for such projects. As the DBU, we assist companies in overcoming these first major hurdles and provide stimulus for important ecological change in the economy.”
She knows from her own experience how much courage and effort it takes to operate sustainably. When she took over the management of Vaude ten years ago, she and her team set a consistently sustainable course in order to take responsibility in the face of global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity conservation and microplastics.
Today, the company is regarded as a pioneer and expert in sustainability, clearly demonstrating that a company can be both sustainable and economically successful.