Robert Bosch would certainly have liked the idea, as it corresponded precisely to what he considered worth promoting for society: access to the best medical care and to good education for everyone, regardless of social status. He would certainly have been proud that the foundation, which was launched in Campinas, Brazil, in 1971, bore his name: Associação Beneficente Robert Bosch. It took up the cause of health promotion, and in 2004, as Instituto Robert Bosch, shifted its focus in the direction of promoting education.
An idea takes its turn
It all started with an informal meeting between John Lane and Wolfgang Sauer in the early 1970s. John Lane was a doctor in Campinas. With the aim of providing modern healthcare, he and his brother had opened a clinic there in 1963. As the president of Bosch do Brasil, Wolfgang Sauer was acutely aware of the urgent needs of an emerging nation such as Brazil – one with a lot of catching-up to do, especially in the field of healthcare. Together, Lane and Sauer came up with the idea of a modern hospital that Bosch would help fund and Associação Beneficente Robert Bosch was established in Campinas in 1971. With its support, work to construct the hospital soon started, and it was officially opened in March 1973.
Committed to social projects
In the 1980s, Associação Beneficente Robert Bosch lent its support to another important medical project: on a plot of land donated by Bosch, a second hospital was built in Campinas. The 1,500-square-meter Boldrini children’s hospital specializes in oncology and hematology. Around the same time, the association also began working closely with local communities to support numerous social projects in the vicinity of the Bosch locations in Brazil.
Thirty years later, in 2003, the state-of-the-art medical center was handed over to the city of Campinas and transformed into an independent foundation.
A new focus with Instituto Robert Bosch
With its healthcare projects successfully underway, the association switched its focus. In 2004, following the suggestion of Edgar Silva-Garbade, until 2008 president of Bosch in Brazil, it was renamed Instituto Robert Bosch. In 1990, he had already teamed up with a few of his Bosch colleagues in Germany to set up the aid organization Primavera — Hilfe für Kinder in Not e.V. Its aim is to support social projects for children in slums in Brazil and India. Therefore, Garbade-Silva, who was going to lead the Instituto from 2011 until 2020, knew this kind of projects inside out and further improving the local aid programs within the regional Bosch subsidiary seemed necessary.
Since then, Instituto Robert Bosch has been dedicated to providing aid to children and young people from disadvantaged social backgrounds. Today, the organization supports some 3,300 children and young people in their personal development and education. The projects range from promoting occupational training to working with public schools. The institution also works with partners in the communities around Bosch locations such as Campinas, Itatiba, Curitiba, Campina Grande do Sul, Joinville, Pomerode, and Simões Filho (Bahia). Together with schools and charitable organizations, it works to alleviate social inequalities and open the door to educational opportunities.
A success story, in which a young person makes their dreams come true, is the greatest reward for our work.
What drives the volunteers
A large number of volunteers, including many Bosch associates, are involved in the projects as educators, motivators, and providers of moral support. They play a vital role in making the institution’s work a success. Edgar Garbade-Silva, long-term director of the Instituto Robert Bosch, explains the motivation as follows: “The reason our volunteers are so enthusiastic is the tangible progress they can see in our students. For many, watching the young people develop and lending a helping hand is deeply satisfying.”
It is no coincidence that Instituto Robert Bosch bears the name of the company founder. It sees its work as part of a tradition stretching back to Robert Bosch, who, throughout his life, supported projects designed to make education for all possible. When asked about his motivation back in 1921, he said: “Education makes people free … So promote universal education.”
As a historian, I have been working in historical communications at Bosch for over 20 years. I have been responsible for historical print media for the same length of time and am now also part of the online editorial team. In addition, I am the contact person for questions regarding the history of Bosch in the Americas, on the Iberian Peninsula and in the U.K. — for the latter, I am particularly happy, because I lived there for three years.