Sustainable Living, Young Entrepreneurs Awards
On September 25, 2015, world leaders will sign up to 17 United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development. These ambitious goals set out to end extreme poverty, tackle climate change, empower women, secure universal water access, and reduce hunger by 2030. If the goals are met, they will ensure the health, safety and future of the planet for everyone on it.
At Unilever, we support the Global Goals because we see this is not only a moral imperative, it also makes good business sense. The challenges that the Global Goals aim to tackle have a huge impact on our business and are aligned with our own ambition set out in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
Our best chance for meeting the Global Goals is if everyone is aware of them and takes action to achieve them. We are now working with others, including Project Everyone and Global Citizen, to raise awareness of the Global Goals and inspire action around the world.
The Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards are one significant way we want to inspire action—that is why the search is on for young innovators aged 35 or under that have already begun to address the challenges at the heart of the Global Goals.
In partnership with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), and in collaboration with Ashoka, we are looking for innovative and scaleable technologies or initiatives that are contributing to one or more of the eight Global Goals we’ve identified as most relevant to our business and entrepreneurs.
With more than seven billion people on our planet, the Earth’s resources are under immense strain. The planet is warming, water is scarce, energy is expensive, food supplies are uncertain, and the gap between rich and poor is widening.
Progress has been made on many fronts through the creative efforts of entrepreneurs, researchers, governments, and communities. Yet many of the trends related to sustainability—in human and ecological systems—are still getting worse and the evidence suggests we must move faster to reverse, or manage, the escalating consequences to people and the planet
Together with CISL, we believe that the younger generation may have the most important contributions to make—the imagination and ingenuity of young people must be unleashed to identify sustainable solutions for what are often seen as impossible problems.
The Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards were launched in 2013 to inspire and support the innovation and creativity of young people who are responding to the greatest global challenges facing us today.
This year, seven young entrepreneurs will receive a total of €200,000 in funding and support to help take their sustainable solutions to the next level. The prize package includes funding, customised expert mentoring support, access to an online business development programme, a two-day accelerator workshop at the University of Cambridge, and networking with senior executives and sustainability leaders at Unilever’s headquarters.
One entrepreneur will take home the greatest prize fund and be presented with the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize at an unforgettable event in London.
The winners of the previous Awards, in 2013 and 2014, demonstrate that innovative solutions can influence people across markets to buy smarter and live more sustainably, and can provide businesses with tools to improve their productive, efficient and responsible use of natural resources. The overall winner of last year’s competition, Daniel Yu, developed a simple software solution that helps medical clinics in the developing world digitise and manage inventory records—delivering better outcomes for patients and improving efficiency across the supply chain. The winner of the inaugural Awards, Gamal Albinsaid, created an ambitious and quickly growing waste recycling programme, which also addresses the demand for health care services from Indonesia’s poorest communities.
If your initiative is already helping people to live more sustainably and is ready to scale up to shape the better future described by the Global Goals, enter today! Help make this the generation that secures the health, safety and future of the planet for everyone on it.
- Six finalists will each receive cash prizes of €10,000, along with support and mentorship (worth €10,000).
- One winner will receive a €50,000 cash prize and will be awarded the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize at an event in London in Spring 2016 and €25,000 worth of support and mentoring.
All entrants will benefit from exposure to a range of leading sustainability experts, entrepreneurs and investors during the process, along with recognition via Unilever’s global channels and the networks of the University of Cambridge and Ashoka.
How to enter:
- Click "Enter" in the menu and follow the instructions.
- For advice about how to create a stronger entry, read these tips.
- You must enter by Midnight GMT on 18 November 2015. No entries will be accepted after this point.
- The competition is open to individuals from any part of the world.
- Applicants, or the the founder on whose behalf the applicant is applying, must be 18-35 years old at the time of entry.
- Entrants are required to be the initiative’s founder, co-founder, or equivalent.
- Initiatives must have grown beyond the conceptual stage—with the product, process, or enterprise already gaining traction among local communities or other markets.
- Entries cannot be accepted from current Unilever employees.
- Applications must be submitted in English. (The online programme, accelerator event and the pitch will all be delivered in English, and proficiency in written and oral English is required.)
- Solutions must relate to one or more of the UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) listed below:
- Global Goal 1 – No Poverty: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- Global Goal 2 – Zero Hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
- Global Goal 5 – Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Global Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation: Ensure availability and suitable management of water and sanitation for all
- Global Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
- Global Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
- Global Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production: Ensure responsible consumption and production patterns
- Global Goal 13 -- Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Entrants will be assessed on three main criteria:
- Innovation: The best entries will demonstrate a creative approach to the challenge they tackle and the solution they propose. This innovation may comprise new products or practices, or new applications, or hybrid combinations of existing tools. The initiative does not have to involve inventing something entirely new, but entries should describe how their solutions are driven by original, ground-breaking ideas or are being implemented in a way that will make a new significant difference to the community that they are operating in.
- Measurable Impact: Entries should explain how the initiative delivers positive social, economic, and/or environmental impact, using both quantitative and qualitative data. The best projects will tackle a significant sustainability issue and will clearly demonstrate potential for making a big difference by being expanded to new markets, sectors, or geographies.
- Financial Sustainability: Entries should have a clear plan for reaching long-term goals and securing financial backing—they should describe not only how they currently finance their work, but also how they plan to finance it in the future. The strongest entries will outline how their solution can be sustained without relying on philanthropic donations or aid for core funding.
Entries will also be evaluated on:
- The leadership qualities of the entrepreneur, including how effectively they are able to engage with relevant communities and stakeholders to realise the full potential of the solution.
- The contribution that the awards process and prizes will have on the success of the initiative.
Entries that make it to the next stage will be requested to submit additional information that will be reviewed by a selection committee. This will include a short business plan, some financial projections and an outline of how you intend to use the prize money. Templates and guidance will be provided.
Deadlines, Procedures and Rules
Applications must be submitted online through the Ashoka Changemakers website between 23 September and 18 November 2015.
Seven finalists will be announced in March 2016. All finalists will be required to join online sessions (Spring 2016) to develop their ideas and build their networks. Attendance is also required at the Accelerator Workshop in Cambridge, UK, and the awards Prize Event in London, UK, at which the The Prince of Wales Prize will be awarded.
Support is provided to all award winners and will be designed and structured around individual requirements through the online programme and for the 12 months following announcement of the prizes.
Individual entries only are accepted. Where there are multiple founders of an initiative, only one person can enter the competition. Prizes will be awarded to individuals only and we cannot accommodate co-founders in the competition process. Co-founders may, however, take part in the ongoing mentoring process if the winning individual agrees this as part of the bespoke mentoring plan.
To be shortlisted as a finalist, you must commit to attending the accelerator workshop and prize event in the UK—dates will be confirmed during the shortlisting process.
The cost of travel to the UK and accommodation during your stay in Cambridge and London will be covered by the competition.
Disclaimer – Compliance with Legal Restrictions
Ashoka complies fully with all U.S. laws and regulations, including Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, export control, and anti-money laundering laws. Any grants will be awarded subject to compliance with such laws. Ashoka will not make any grant if it finds that to do so would be unlawful. This may prohibit awards in certain countries and/or to certain individuals or entities. All recipients will comply with these laws to the extent they are applicable to such recipients. No recipient will take any action that would cause Ashoka to violate any laws. Additionally, Ashoka will not make any grant to a company involved in the promotion of tobacco use.
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