ACUMEN-UNILEVER SOCIAL INNOVATION CHALLENGE ON PLASTICS
Develop innovative solutions and compete for a chance to win up to $25,000 in funding and coaching from Unilever
Acumen, in partnership with Unilever, is hosting a Social Innovation Challenge on Plastics from March to May 2019. The Challenge seeks to generate new ideas to stop the flow of plastic waste into the environment, with a focus on solutions that improve the lives of people living in poverty.
RAPID INNOVATION LAB
Few cities in developing and emerging markets have dependable solid waste management services. Many households dispose of their trash on street corners and in dump sites. Informal waste pickers sort through this trash in hazardous conditions to find materials that can be sold for recycling.
To combat this problem, the social enterprise CARPE has been working to introduce a sustainable waste management system to Aurangabad, India. Through a collaborative effort with city leaders and waste pickers, most households in Aurangabad have started segregating their plastic waste for collection. The social enterprise is now focused on their next challenge: How might we engage the 21,000 schools in the district that continue to burn their waste?
On March 2, join hundreds of participants around the world to help CARPE generate new ideas for segregating waste in schools — an essential step for ensuring that plastic stays out of the environment — and improving the welfare of waste pickers.
In the two-hour Rapid Innovation Lab, you will receive a crash course in behavior change principles and waste management practices in Aurangabad, India. Then you will collaborate with other participants to propose solutions for CARPE.
Many countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America are grappling with similar challenges of collecting plastic waste and empowering the informal sector. We encourage you to bring these experiences and solutions from your own region to the Rapid Innovation Lab.
Who Should Apply?
Anyone who wants to learn more about environmental conservation and the circular economy, while proposing solutions for a real social enterprise. See complete terms and conditions for eligibility requirements.
When Will It Happen?
March 2 at 4:00–6:00 p.m. GMT
What You Will Do:
Watch a live interview with a social entrepreneur who is tackling waste management in Aurangabad, India, and submit your questions
Learn about principles of behavior change and how they can be applied to environmental challenges
Collaborate with other change-makers from around the world and prototype solutions for the social enterprise during a two-hour event hosted on Slack.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE INCUBATOR
The Social Enterprise Incubator is an opportunity for early-stage entrepreneurs and SMEs to deepen their understanding of the areas for innovation and partnership around plastic waste reduction, refine their business models, and compete for seed funding and expert support for their solutions.
In the seven-week Social Enterprise Incubator, you will work through Acumen’s Business Models for Social Impact curriculum independently, and participate in online office hour sessions with experts from Unilever.
At least three winning teams will receive up to $25,000 in seed funding and a series of coaching calls with technical experts from Unilever. To be eligible for the prize, your business model should be applicable to markets in Brazil, India, or South Africa.
Who Should Apply?
Early stage or aspiring social entrepreneurs who want to develop new business models for managing plastic waste, particularly in Brazil, India, and South Africa. See complete terms and conditions for eligibility requirements.
When Will It Happen?
March 19–May 7, 2019
The incubator can be completed at your own pace during this time period. The only requirement is that you submit your final pitch deck before May 7, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. PST.
What You Will Do:
Learn about the challenge of plastic waste and opportunities for innovative solutions
Review case studies of social enterprises that are collecting, sorting, or processing plastic waste, while improving the welfare of people living in poverty
Complete Acumen’s Business Models for Social Impact curriculum to refine your own business model for plastic waste
Attend online office hour sessions to gain insights and feedback from technical experts at Unilever
Submit your Business Model Canvas and a pitch deck for a chance to win seed funding and coaching calls from Unilever
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How will applicants be selected?
Anyone interested in environmental conservation, circular economy, and poverty reduction is welcome to apply to the Rapid Innovation Lab and Social Enterprise Incubator.
For the Rapid Innovation Lab, we are looking for participants who can join a live event from 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. GMT on Saturday, March 2. No prior experience with environmental conservation or waste management is required. You should be open to learning about behavioral science and working collaboratively with a team of peers from around the world to generate solutions.
For the Social Enterprise Incubator, we are looking for early stage or aspiring social entrepreneurs who are committed to developing business models to tackle post-consumer plastic waste. These business models should be applicable to Brazil, India, or South Africa. We encourage participants with multidisciplinary backgrounds and diverse perspectives to apply.
See complete terms and conditions for eligibility requirements.
- Do I need to participate in both the Virtual Challenge and Social Enterprise Incubator to be eligible for seed funding?
No. Participation in the Rapid Innovation Lab is encouraged, but not required. You are only required to submit a pitch deck that includes a budget for the seed funding and a workplan for 3 months inclusive of key milestones and dates as the final assignment in the Social Enterprise Incubator to be eligible for seed funding.
- Where will the Virtual Challenge and Social Enterprise Incubator be held?
All components of the Rapid Innovation Lab and Social Enterprise Incubator will be held online.
- What will the Social Enterprise Incubator consist of?
The Social Enterprise Incubator is based on Acumen's Business Models for Social Impact curriculum, and will include additional readings on plastic waste, the circular economy, and case studies of social enterprise models that have successfully tackled these challenges. Several models have been identified with the help of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Circulate Capital and WasteAid UK.
You will develop a Business Model Canvas by working through a step-by-step process. You will also have the opportunity to attend online office hour sessions with technical experts from Unilever. These sessions are optional and will be recorded if you cannot attend live.
Acumen and Unilever will not be able to provide individual feedback on every assignment or submission. You should expect to work through the incubator curriculum independently.
- What types of business models will be supported through the incubator?
The challenge of plastic waste can be addressed from many directions. This incubator will focus on solutions for after-use plastic waste, such as plastic packaging.
Your business model should propose solutions for collecting plastic waste and reintroducing it to the value chain. The business model should have a sustainable revenue engine and identify opportunities to engage with and improve the lives of people living in poverty.
Your business model can be for-profit or non-profit. Your solution can include behavior change campaigns or initiatives to improve the welfare of waste pickers.
- What does it cost?
Participation in all stages of the Plastics Innovation Challenge is entirely free.
- Who is eligible to receive the seed funding?
Acumen will select at least three teams to receive seed funding based on the final pitch deck they submit in the Social Enterprise Incubator. See complete terms and conditions for eligibility requirements.
- What will coaching from Unilever involve?
Winning teams will be invited to schedule three coaching calls with technical experts from Unilever.
- Do I need to form a team?
For the Rapid Innovation Lab, you will be randomly assigned to a group of peers. You will work collaboratively to generate ideas and prototype solutions during the two-hour event on Slack.
To be eligible for funding from the Social Enterprise Incubator, you are required to form a team of at least two people. You should work together to develop and refine your business model.
- Do solutions need to only be focused on India, South Africa and Brazil?
Solutions that are applicable to Brazilian, Indian, or South African markets will be most strongly considered for funding and Unilever coaching.
- Will I earn a Statement of Accomplishment?
Acumen will issue separate Statements of Accomplishment for completion of the Rapid Innovation Lab and the Social Enterprise Incubator. If you successfully finish the Rapid Innovation Lab and submit the final survey, you will receive a Statement of Accomplishment. If you successfully submit the required final assignment in the Social Enterprise Incubator, you will receive a Statement of Accomplishment.