Unilever and the Cambridge Program for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL) have announced the seven finalists for the inaugural Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards, an international awards program designed to inspire young people around the world to tackle environmental, social and health issues.
The competition, open to anyone aged 30 years or under, looks for inspiring practical, tangible solutions to help make sustainable living commonplace.
Out of 510 entries from 90 countries, seven finalists were selected, hailing from Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, India, Guatemala, Nigeria and Peru. The candidates submitted scalable and sustainable products, services or applications that enable changes in practices or behaviors in such areas as sanitation and hygiene, water scarcity, greenhouse gases, waste, sustainable agriculture and helping smallholder farmers.
The seven finalists are:
- Garbage Clinical Insurance, Gamal Albinsaid, 24 (Indonesia) — Waste recycling as a currency for primary health care.
- Ilumexico, Manuel Wichers, 26 (Mexico) — Carbon-free renewable energy from solar lamp network plus micro-loans.
- Maya Universe Academy, Surya Karki, 23 (Nepal) — Sustainable collective farming for rural Nepalese communities, with farm profits use to fund free schools.
- NextDrop, Anu Sridharan, 26 (India) — Water-use optimization and leakage tracking via a real time data and messaging system.
- Pigeonpea, Curt Bowen, 26 (Guatemala) — Smallholder farmer crop solution for natural, sustainable soil enrichment and greater income.
- Unfire, Blessing Mene, 26 (Nigeria) — Low-cost chicken-feed (using waste mango seed ) for smallholder farmers.
- X Runner, Isabel Medem, 28 (Peru) — Water-less toilets in slums; converted into saleable compost.
“We are delighted to have had such a great number of entries, and of such high caliber from all corners of world,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman. “The entries provide proof — if it were needed — of a young generation of leaders eager to develop their fledgling businesses into ones that could genuinely make a big difference.”
Unilever says the finalists will take part in a four week development program, followed by an accelerator workshop in Cambridge, UK, where they will receive expert help and professional guidance to help them develop their ideas. This will be followed by a pitch to a panel of judges in London, comprising entrepreneurs and leaders from business and sustainability.
The winner and finalists will attend a special dinner in London on January 30, 2014, where the HRH The Prince of Wales Prize will be presented. The Prize winner will receive €50,000 ($68,830 USD) and individually tailored mentoring, the six finalists will each receive €10,000 ($13,771 USD) and mentoring. Four runners-up will also receive an on-line development program to help them to further develop their ideas.
The 2014 program will be launched in early summer and young entrepreneurs interested in participating can register on the Ashoka Changemakers platform.