Unfolding Blindness

Ashoka Senior Fellow Dr. Andreas Heinecke, CEO of Dialogue Social Enterprise, has received the 2011 Special Prize of the Deutscher Gründerpreis. The Deutscher Gründerpreis is Germany’s most prestigious award for outstanding entrepreneurs, honoring extraordinary achievements in developing innovative and financially sustainable business ideas.

Heinecke’s work helps people overcome prejudices against disabilities through integration programs. In one program, “Dialogue in the Dark,” blind people guide visitors through a darkened room.  The exhibition strengthens visitors’ empathy and tolerance and creates employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Heinecke's newest program, “Dialogue in Silence,” invites visitors to experience the world of people who are deaf and mute.

Heinecke was the first Ashoka Fellow appointed in West Europe in 2005; today, Dialogue Social Enterprise GmbH is a fully profitable social business operating as a franchise in 35 countries. To date, 7,000 blind and deaf employees have found work within the organization; the current team consists of 500 people worldwide.

Warmest congrats to you and your team, Andreas, from the Ashoka Germany team and the international Ashoka network!