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SAP AG(SAP - Analyst Report) recently revealed its decision to expand its social sabbatical program in emerging markets by increasing the number of people that are sent to guide the entrepreneurs of small to midsize companies. This increase is estimated to be by more than 100%. The initiative falls under the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda, which aims to advance education and entrepreneurship in developing nations.

SAP’s social sabbatical initiative was launched in 2012 and initially catered to three countries - Brazil, India and South Africa with 30 employees. Beginning this year (2013), the program has been extended to cover entrepreneurs in China. The company, by investing more than $2 billion in the next couple of years, aims to have a broader presence in the emerging economies like China, which are growing more than 2% every year.

After this phase, SAP is also planning to invest as much as $2.44 million for the leadership skill development of its 72 employees who would be working closely with the selected emerging nations. The company expects to have twin benefits through this investment; firstly providing its employees with more exposure for innovation and development and secondly enhancing entrepreneurship in emerging economies.

The participants receive mentoring during the program and once the program is over they receive comprehensive training sessions specially designed to develop and utilize their experience for working at SAP.

Aimed at enhancing the sabbatical’s impact, SAP follows a strategy for selecting assignments. The strategy ensures that the project can be completed by regional team even after the sabbatical is over.

A research from Pyxera Global, a non profit organization that partnered SAP in developing the sabbatical initiative, notes that the number of people sent for such international sabbaticals have increased fourfold in the last five years and the trend is expected to continue.

SAP currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other stocks in the software industry that are more promising at the moment include Dealertrack Technologies, Inc. (TRAK - Snapshot Report), Trend Micro Inc. (TMICY) and Infoblox Inc. (BLOX - Snapshot Report),all three carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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