A jet-setter finds a new purpose

16. February 2024

Even as a young professional, Frank Pape demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit in the booming call centre industry. That was just the start of a meteoric rise that saw him working as an advisor to governments and corporate boards. Today, the former jet-setter works in a voluntary capacity supporting terminally ill people and those in need at his equestrian farm. The private hospice is funded via the family’s coffee roasting and chocolate business, Familienrösterei & Chocolaterie Pape – whose customers include Rheinmetall.

(Image: Nicole Pape)

Frank Pape,

born in 1970, is a social activist, entrepreneur and author. His book “Gott, Du kannst ein Arsch sein” made it onto the Spiegel bestseller list and was adapted into a film starring Til Schweiger and Heike Makatsch. In his biography “Ich mit Risiken und Nebenwirkungen”, Frank Pape provides personal insights into the roller-coaster ride of his extraordinary life. The father of five lives and works with his family in Preussisch Oldendorf.

When Frank Pape’s daughter Mary was told at the age of 15 that she had lung cancer and did not have long to live, she began writing about her experiences. At her request, her father published a book telling the moving story of her last 296 days. The response to the novel and its subsequent film adaptation was huge. Afterwards, many people turned to Frank Pape and his wife Nicole for assistance. “In most cases, they are terminally ill, victims of abuse, or people grieving for their loved ones. They want to deal with their fear and pain or spend what time they have left in a caring atmosphere and with smiling faces all around them, just like our daughter did,” explains the trained counsellor and entrepreneur.

Frank Pape founded a hospice at his equestrian farm in Getmold as a retreat for seriously ill and traumatised people. With great empathy, dedication and courage, the committed Christian began sharing in the most difficult hours of his guests’ lives, laughing, crying and sympathising with them. When he and his wife were no longer able to fund their charitable commitment out of their own pocket, they turned their passion for coffee and chocolate into a business idea: Familienrösterei Pape.

The former strategy consultant trained as a master confectioner and chocolatier. The majority of the profits help to fund “Ein Lächeln für dich”, the Papes’ non-profit organisation. The husband-and-wife team proved to be adept at marketing, persuading companies like Rheinmetall to purchase high-quality Fairtrade coffee from their family-run coffee roasting business and support a good cause in the process. “We were extremely moved by Frank Pape’s story,” says Philipp von Brandenstein, Head of Corporate Communications at the defence and technology company Rheinmetall. “What the hospice does for people and for society deserves our respect and our support.”

Purpose instead of profit. That is what drives Pape, now 53 years old. And he is not the only one with this attitude. Entire generations no longer want to just make money – they are also keen to do something that helps to make society better and fairer for all. Pape admits he used to have a different mindset. At 23, he established one of the first call centres in Germany. His start-up quickly expanded. Its clients soon included mobile phone compan-ies along with banks and insurance providers. The market was booming. Call centres became the latest marketing tool for winning new customers. And Frank Pape developed the corres-ponding strategies. His subsequent career as a consultant found him rubbing shoulders with high-profile politicians and businesspeople. He started out working in the advisory team of the government of Malta. Later, he was a consultant for executives at HSBC, one of the world’s biggest banks.

His days as a top manager were dominated by marketing and sales strategies, crisis meetings and business deals. He would often find himself flying to Paris for breakfast, having a lunch meeting in London then enjoying the sunset by the sea. “It was a jet-setting life,” Frank Pape recalls.

But eventually he asked himself what it was all about. He founded his own strategy consultancy, moved to the countryside, trained as an emergency counsellor and took an interest in end-of-life care. “Welfare work gave me the feeling of doing something good,” Pape explains. And since his daughter died, it has become his mission in life. In addition to his hospice, he is involved in youth outreach and prevention, helping victims of bullying and raising awareness of the dangers of drug use. “In her last days, my daughter made a point of saying how important it is to make sure that each day has a purpose,” Pape recalls. “And she was absolutely right.”

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