Case Study of Quartiermeister – Germany
Katharina Obuch, Anna Hennig, Annette Zimmer - Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Abstract: Quartiermeister is a social enterprise founded and based in Berlin which sells its own brand of beer (“Quartiermeister”) produced and bottled by two regional family-owned breweries. With part of their turnover, they support social and cultural projects in the neighborhood (“Kiez”) and, besides that, involve consumers via an online voting process in the decision they support. The enterprise evolved from a student initiative in 2010. The association Quartiermeister e.V. was founded in 2011, complemented by a GbR (BGB company) in 2013 ,which was turned into a GmbH (limited liability company) in 2016. The association takes care of the selection and support of the social projects supported by Quartiermeister while the GmbH is responsible for the sales and distribution of the beer. After expanding their coverage to further cities in the East and in the South of Germany, the enterprise is still in its consolidation phase. It is run by two managing directors (who started as volunteers), six further full-time and three part-time employees, all of them showing a strong identification with the enterprise and its goals. Quartiermeister was built and run solely based on voluntary work during the first three years (2010-2013), only supported by a micro-credit of 3000 euros. In 2017, they achieved a turnover of about 563,554€. Today, they donate 10 cents per liter of beer they sell, allowing them to select four social projects quarterly for a financial support of 1000 euros. Quartiermeister seeks to support local projects which are too small or too informal to receive money from other sources, and they deliberately keep the application process simple. The founders’ aim behind Quartiermeister was to “do business the right way” and position the enterprise as an alternative to traditional, for-profit enterprises. In a beer market dominated by several major breweries, Quartiermeister offers a regional brand to promote and preserve the manifold beer world and the varieties of taste. They promote healthy, organic growth without involvement of external investors. They carefully select their partners for cooperation (commitment to the cause), attach importance to transparency, and also try to act socially responsible towards their employees. Quartiermeister creates additional social value by promoting neighborhood integration and by encouraging consumers to reflect about the processes of consumption and production of a popular product (beer). That’s why they call their brand Quartiermeister the first “socially sustainable” beer.