The UBS Social Innovators program 2016


August 31, 2016

Opportunity Cover Image - The UBS Social Innovators program 2016

About program

We are launching a search for Social Innovators who will benefit the most from access to the unique network and expertise of UBS, the world's leading wealth manager.

We invite you to apply to become the UBS Social Innovator 2016 in one of three regions,Switzerland (our home market), Europe Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific.

10-12 shortlisted social enterprises from each region will be invited to Regional Bootcamps and Summits during October and early November. The Bootcamps, designed with input from Ashoka, the leading Social Entrepreneurs network, will provide an opportunity for all the regional shortlisted candidates to convene, network and collaborate. They will be attended by UBS employees, UBS partners and experts from Ashoka who will all act as coaches and mentors to the shortlisted candidates. 

At each Bootcamp, four Regional Finalists will be selected and invited to pitch their social enterprise for cash grants at the Regional Summits. There, the jury will select the UBS Social Innovator and three runners-up in each region.

Selection criteria

The selection committee will be looking for applicants who provide strong answers to a range of questions about what their social enterprise does, how it runs and how good its prospects for future growth and success are. We've grouped these questions by topic. As you describe your social enterprise please try to think about how you can demonstrate your answers to each question.

Don't worry, we do not expect your social enterprise to fulfil all of them perfectly.

A social enterprise is an organization which has a social purpose, but which earns all, or a large proportion, or at least a growing proportion of its funding from sales of goods or services. Social enterprises may be charities, companies, subsidiaries of a charity etc. and may be non-profit or for profit, but must be revenue generating.

Innovative: What is original about your initiative?
  • That helps to solve a social or environmental issue in a new way.
  • That challenges the status quo, or works in a new way.
Impactful: How does your social enterprise create a sustainable and equitable impact?
  • A social enterprise which helps communities to overcome barriers or constraints on progress.
  • A clear statement of the social issue you are addressing and an understanding of how large the problem is.
  • Evidence that you measure the impact of your social enterprise, using quantitative and qualitative data.
Financially Sustainable: What is your plan for reaching your social enterprise's long-term goals and securing financial backing?
  • A clear and realistic plan,
  • A comprehensive description of how you are currently funded,
  • A realistic description of how your funding will develop in the future,
  • Evidence of strong partnerships and support networks that both address your existing financial needs and will help your social enterprise to grow,
  • A well thought through and sustainable financial strategy.

In the UBS Social Innovators program we are especially looking for social enterprises that have the potential to create revenues independent of donations. Even if you are dependent on donations today, can your social enterprise become self-funding?

Scalable: What opportunities do you have to grow your social enterprise and bring it to a significantly larger scale?
  • Evidence that your social enterprise already has some proven success.
  • A description of the resources that you need to help you grow.
  • A solution for which there is large demand in the field within which you are operating and a demonstrated need for you to grow.

Compelling: Do you have a great story to tell and a clear and convincing message to share?

  • A team and leadership with drive, passion and strong skills and experience.
  • Evidence that you actively engage with relevant communities and stakeholders to realise the full potential of your solution.
  • A strong and coherent grasp of the English language – as a UBS Social Innovator, you will have the opportunity to get feedback about your project from leading social investors and philanthropists at a UBS event in Switzerland at the start of December.
Compatible: Is your social enterprise compatible with UBS's values and the aims of the UBS Social Innovators program?
  • Social enterprises that can benefit most from the support and expertise UBS has to offer, beyond cash grants.
  • Specific examples how our support could transform and impact your social enterprise.

The Rewards

The three UBS Social Innovators (one from each region) will take part in a bespoke Accelerator program designed for each of them by UBS and Ashoka, to help them scale and maximize their project's impact. This will run for the whole of 2017 and will include regular meetings with Ashoka, UBS experts and other relevant third parties from UBS and Ashoka's networks; a structured program of virtual and in-person workshops including a full training on preparing for social investment, 1:1 mentoring and coaching with key stakeholders; and presentations to UBS employees, partners and potential investors.

The three UBS Social Innovators will also each have the opportunity to receive feedback on their projects from some of the world's leading philanthropists and social investors at a UBS event in December 2016 

Finally, we will award cash grants of USD 40,000 to each of the three UBS Social Innovators.

All the Regional Finalists will receive an advanced introduction on preparing for social investment, guiding them through the key elements from developing social impact metrics through how to refine their revenue model. Each of the three runners-up in each region will also receive a grant of USD 5,000.


At UBS we believe that the private sector has a crucial role to play in tackling society's most pressing challenges. We also see an increasing demand from our clients to contribute to solving these challenges. And we believe that the growing social investment market can meet some of this demand. The UBS Social Innovators program will play a role in helping to develop the growing social investment market by supporting social entrepreneurs who are addressing poorly met social needs, transforming the way societies work and generating positive social impact.

UBS Social Innovators is an initiative of UBS and Society, UBS’s cross-divisional platform covering all of UBS’s activities and capabilities in sustainability and philanthropy. 

For more information click "Further official information" below.

Publish Date
July 14, 2016
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