How Empowering Young Entrepreneurs Amplifies the Pursuit for #BrightFuture
Two years ago, we asked ourselves how to act on the goals that One Young World challenges each of its delegates with- which is to lead purposeful projects that uplift communities- whilst also working at a multinational corporation? Our answer: infusing these goals through collaboration with hundreds of entrepreneurial Enactus students on a journey to create and implement sustainable hunger solutions in America.
Five years ago, we began our careers at Unilever as interns and were immediately captivated by the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), as their goals of doubling the size of the Unilever business, reducing their environmental footprint and increasing their social impact perfectly synergised with what we so strongly believe in as One Young World Ambassadors. Individually, we had led respective passion projects and we were excited to bring our ideas of how to do good and drive business to the company. And after completing two successful internship experiences, we made it to the full-time corporate world. Would our passions for building community wash away and be deprioritized by the responsibilities of managing customer or brand accounts? No- Not then, and not now. It was now time to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of our millennial generation.
Enactus, a global community of student, academic and business leaders who use the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world, has long since been a partner with Unilever and now through us as Ambassadors, with One Young World. The intrinsic synergies between these three companies’ focus on sustainability got us thinking- how do we leverage existing partnerships, throughout a multitude of sectors, to drive our efforts to improve the world?
Starting with a core group we developed an internal framework, the Enactus Business Resource Group. We defined that we would be a team of social entrepreneurs who leveraged our passions and resources to enhance the recruitment of diverse talent, elevate Unilever’s sustainability initiatives through strategic partnerships with our customers and empower our communities with what we had learned as One Young World Ambassadors to create opportunity. One of three strategic areas of engagement for our group would be impacting the Marketplace and connecting with other like-minded entrepreneurial student teams in ways we’d never done before.
Crafting the Challenge
Enactus partnership programs offer teams a focused set of objectives and provide project grants, prize money and special recognition for the teams who achieve the most success. We’ve also utilized our skills learned as One Young World Ambassadors to bring in leaders from other sectors into the programs. Many corporate sponsors, including Walmart, Sam’s Club, and ADP, engaged with students in this space.
In 2014 we ideated and launched the Unilever Enactus Bright Future Project Partnership. Through this partnership, Unilever and Enactus mobilized young action leaders from universities around the United States to empower their communities in ways that would further promote their aims. It was imperative to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of the millennial generation, as with their actions, we would also be promoting the aims of One Young World.
Students were challenged to design innovative, scalable projects that empower communities to take an active role in creating sustainable solutions to food insecurity. This year, 20 United States Enactus teams were awarded grant funding to implement student-led projects, including initiatives that range from establishing community gardens to working with retailers to provide nutrition and budgeting education for low-income communities.
We’ve already seen how empowering values-driven leaders will make a better world for us in just the past two years. Our teams have positively impacted over 75,000 people, including +6,500 people with increased financial assets and +37,000 people with improved access to healthy foods. Including the great work seen by other One Young Ambassadors, we have collectively brought this positive change to an estimated 10 million people.
Not only did we drive real change in our communities, we tapped into top talent, drove employee engagement to new heights through mentoring bright young teams, and began the path of sustainable solutions for the hungry. These acts of #BrightFutures are rallying young leaders to tackle the Global Goals and improving livelihoods every day.
So, think twice if you question the level of impact One Young World Ambassadors can have working in the corporate environment. At Unilever, we are empowered to leverage our talents for doing good. This positive change will continue into 2016, where in Ottawa, One Young World will host a summit that collects Ambassadors from all over the world to exchange ideas and in addition the Enactus panel here will further empower young values-driven leaders to continue to make a better world for all of us, as only through collaboration and synergy between organisations such as Enactus, Unilever and One Young World can we continue to further positive impact.