Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards 2014

Building on the success of the 2013 AwardsUnilever is once again inviting young people to come up with practical and innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges and enter them in the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards. 

Open to anyone aged 30 or under, Unilever is looking for scalable and sustainable products, services or applications that reduce environmental impacts, improve health and well-being or enhance livelihoods through changes in practices or behaviours.

The Awards, run in partnership with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), and in collaboration with Ashoka, offer seven young people a total of more than €200,000 in financial support and individually tailored mentoring. The overall winner also receives the prestigious HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize.

All seven finalists take part in an online development programme and then participate in a two-day accelerator workshop at Cambridge University, UK, where expert help and professional guidance is provided to help them develop their ideas.


Winners Announced

January 30, 2015
  • Launch Date
    June 23, 2014
  • Entry Deadline
    August 1, 2014
  • Finalists Announced
    October 30, 2014
  • Winners Announced
    January 30, 2015

Dear Changemakers Community, 


With seven billion people on our planet, the Earth’s resources are under immense strain. We are living in a world where temperatures are rising, water is scarce, energy is expensive, food supplies are uncertain, and the gap between rich and poor is increasing. It’s clear: the way the world does business must change to better balance economy, ecology and equity.

Are you reducing environmental impact by rethinking packaging or promoting sustainable sourcing? Helping families take action to improve their health and wellbeing? Re-imagining the way we buy, use and refuse? Improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, or creating opportunities for women and micro-entrepreneurs in developing communities?

We are looking for innovative projects or technologies that span across a number of these areas, or address one key challenge of sustainable living.

As an entrepreneur, your creativity and desire for positive change can influence people across markets or in specific communities to buy better, smarter and live more sustainably, whilst simultaneously urging companies to behave and grow more responsibly.

That’s why Unilever has launched the Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards—now in its second year—in partnership with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and in collaboration with Ashoka. The Awards are designed to support inspiring initiatives from around the world, developed by young people age 30 and under, that offer a better solution to ‘business as usual.’

For example, the winner of last year’s competition, Gamal Albinsaid, addressed the need for healthcare services to the poorest communities in Indonesia with an ambitious waste recycling programme.

Seven young entrepreneurs in this year's Awards will receive a total of €200,000 in funding and support to help take their sustainable living initiatives to the next level. The prize package includes funding, customised expert 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.

The overall winner will take home the greatest prize fund and be presented with the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize, awarded at a prestigious event in London.

If your initiative helps people live more sustainably, we’ll support it. 

Enter your solution today!



The Awards Team


The competition is open to individuals 30 years old or younger, from any part of the world.

Innovations must have grown beyond the conceptual stage—with the product, process or enterprise already gaining traction among local communities or other markets. Entries must change behaviour to enable sustainable living.

Entries cannot be accepted from current Unilever employees, nor can entries promote Unilever or its products.

Applications must be submitted in English. (The online programme, accelerator event and the pitch will all be delivered in English—proficiency in written and oral English is required.)

Solutions must relate to one or more of the categories listed below:

Improving Health & Well-Being

  • water, sanitation and hygiene
  • nutrition

Reducing Environmental Impact

  • water scarcity
  • greenhouse gases
  • waste
  • sustainable agriculture

Enhancing Livelihoods

  • smallholder farmers
  • opportunities for women
  • micro enterprise

What are we looking for in your entry

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Individuals in the developing world can be healthier—and communities more productive—if they have access to clean water and better sanitation. We are seeking entrepreneurs with initiatives that address how to improve hygiene practices in any country, or offer an innovation to improve access to sanitation in remote areas.


Calling all young entrepreneurs with innovations in products with improved taste and nutritional quality that can form part of a healthy, balanced diet, or with initiatives that help people to adopt—and stick to—healthier diets and lifestyles.

Water Scarcity

We are looking for solutions that conserve or reduce the amount of water used across 20 communities, from water use during the extraction or cultivation of raw materials, through manufacturing processes. Or perhaps you have an idea to help people better manage access to water and adopt tools and behaviours which help them use less in the home or at work?

Greenhouse Gases

Entries in this category provide solutions for society to reduce carbon footprints through innovation, new product development, cost efficiencies, or by adopting less carbon-intensive ways of living and working.


Are there entrepreneurs out there with ingenious initiatives that help to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste throughout the pre-production, production, and consumption lifecycle? Initiatives to reduce packaging should demonstrate significant cost benefits in materials, energy, and transport.

Sustainable Agriculture

We are looking for entrepreneurs who can demonstrate innovation that not only protects the planet’s natural resources, but also offers a long-term approach that can create value for farmers, and ensure security of supply for the long-term. Entries also ensure deforestation, land use, and social and community issues are managed responsibly.

Smallholder Farmers

Entries in this category help smallholder farmers improve their practices, right across the supply chain, or help give them access to education, community support materials and tools. It may even be an initiative focused on encouraging and supporting younger people into agriculture. 

Opportunities for Women

We are seeking initiatives that help to tackle the discrimination and disadvantages millions of women face around the world. You might be working to help provide access to skills and training for women, and creating opportunities for women to actively, safely and fairly participate in the economy.


Micro-enterprises contribute significantly to economic growth, social stability and equity and are  important ways through which those on low-incomes  can escape poverty. We are looking for entrepreneurs who are working to improve skills, create business opportunities and provide access to markets to help people develop and grow small scale enterprises that benefit them and the communities they operate in.

More information about the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan can be found at: http://www.unilever.co.uk/sustainable-living/uslp/

Assesment 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, groundbreaking ideas or being implemented in a way that will make a new significant difference to the community 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 have the potential of 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 reliance 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 potential of the solution.

The contribution that the awards process and prizes will have on the success of the initiative.

Entries that succeed to the next stage will be requested to submit additional information to be reviewed by a selection committee. This will include a short business plan and some financial projections. Templates and guidance will be provided.

Applications must be submitted online through the Ashoka Changemakers website between 23 June and 1 August 2014.

Seven finalists will be announced during the week of 27th October 2014. All finalists will be required to join online sessions beginning in November 2014 to develop their ideas and build their networks. Attendance is also required at the Accelerator Workshop in Cambridge, UK, and the awards dinner that same month, during which the HRH 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 up until Autumn 2015.

Timetable of key dates

Applications open23 June 2014
Deadline for all applications1 August
Shortlist interviews28 October
Finalists announced30 October
Finalists commence online tutorials24 November
Finalists attend Accelerator Workshop in Cambridge, UKTBC in January 2015
Pitch to judgesTBC in January 2015
Prize ceremony in LondonTBC in January 2015


Disclaimer – Compliance with Legal Restrictions

The sponsor of this opportunity reserves the right to disqualify at any time (in its reasonable discretion) any participant or entry for good cause, including, but not limited to, non-compliance with these Guidelines and Criteria, the Changemakers Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, or violation of any applicable laws, codes, or regulations.

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.

Total value:
200 000
  • Six finalists will receive cash prizes of €10,000, along with support and mentorship (worth €10,000).
  • One winner will receive €50,000 cash prize and will be awarded the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize at a prestigious dinner event in London in January 2015 and €25,000 worth of support and mentoring.

All 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 global networks of the University of Cambridge and Ashoka.

How to enter:

For advice about how to create a stronger entry, read these tips.

Competition entries

Title Contributor Location
ReliefWatch Daniel Yu Tegucigulpa, Honduras


Judges Panel

Director, Africa Team & Rural Innovation and Farming


Director, Institute for Sustainability Leadership

University of Cambridge


Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd


Centre for Social Markets

Independent writer and Advisor

SVP Global Communications


Chief Marketing and Communications Officer



LONDON -- Unilever and University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership announce Daniel Yu as the winner of the second Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize.

Jan 30, 15

Social entrepreneur Kat Kimmorley is tackling one of India's age-old problems, energy poverty, with new sustainable technology.

Dec 12, 14

If you spent more than an hour submitting an entry to a competition for solutions to sustainability challenges, why would you then also volunteer to spend more time writing reviews of other people’s competition entries?

Nov 26, 14


A single story has the power to change the world. Check out the change stories from last year's Sustainable Living Awards.

Curt Bowen - PEAS, Guatemala Manuel Wiechers - ILUMEXICO, Mexico Blessing Mene - UNFIRE, Nigeria
Anu Sridharan - NextDrop, India Isabel Medem - An alternative sanitation solution for the urban poor, Peru Surya Karki - Maya Universe Academy, Nepal
Gamal Albinsaid - Garbage Clinical Insurance, Indonesia

Network Partners

Google+ Hangouts

Social Media