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Annual Social Entrepreneurship Competitions

Updated: Mar 22

If you want to have your own Social Enterprise you may need two things: money and training. Below you will find a list of competitions and programs you can apply for that can help! You are running an initiative that already has been implemented but you still need more skills and funding? Great! Many of the competitions below are open for already-existing projects as well.

What's a social Enterprise, you may ask?


"Organizations that address a basic unmet need or solve a social or environmental problem through a market-driven approach*"

And remember, even if you don't win. Simply going through the process of applying to these competitions will yield you a tremendous amount of experience and fun.


*Source: Social Enterprise US

The Hult Prize

The Hult price is one of the most famous and biggest social entrepreneurship competitions. Candidates are asked to present for-good and for-profit ideas and are competing for one million dollars! But even if you are not selected to be the one - the top fifty start-ups are selected for a six-week training program with networking, coaching and teambuilding, all covered for by Hult.

Most applicants find just going through the application-process very rewarding and many start-ups move on to implement their ideas regardless whether they win or not (by receiving other kinds of funding)

They also offer an online a 5-week summer course that teaches you how to take your idea and make an impact with it. It costs 200 USD but need-based scholarships are available.

Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards

If you are looking for an award where you may have the greatest chance of benefitting from, this award is what you are looking for. While the winner receives 50.000 USD, they also provide seven other teams with funding. These eight teams are also invited to an Accelerator Programme run by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, as well as one year of mentoring support.

Whereas it doesn't matter at what stage your initiative/technology is (just an idea or already implemented), it has to fall into one of the following categories:

  • Improve people’s health and well-being

  • Improve the health of the planet

  • Contribute to a fairer and more socially inclusive world

As you can see the categories are fairly vague so this prize really has a lot of potential.

I also need to note that applications are welcome from all around the world except for Russia. Yeah. I have no clue why.

Waislitz Global Citizen Award

Global Citizen gives out three annual rewards of 1x100.000 and 2x50.000 USD (and some more perks) to individuals or singular representations of organizations who are in the process of taking impactful steps in eliminating poverty.

Please note that to win this award you must have already started an initiative that you now want to scale up to a wider impact.

Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge

If you have an idea how to make a positive social, environmental or economic impact that uses technology, entering this competition could win you anything between 100.000 and 10.000 USD. In fact they give out five prizes in total including a people's choice award. So if you are really good at promoting your idea online, you don't even have to convince the judges to walk away with 10.000USD!




European Social Innovation Competition

Although this is a European Competition, it includes a variety of non-European countries in its eligibility requirements. The judges give out three 50.000 Euro Cash prizes for the implementation of innovative, social and sustainable initiatives.

Every year, this competition is opened up to entrepreneurs under a different theme. Previous years' themes have included integration of refugees and migrants, increasing job opportunities and using technology for economic development. The 2019 theme was reducing plastic waste.

Yunus and Youth

Founded by peace Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus, this fellowship is a 6-month training program aimed at helping young people scale up their social initiatives. You'll receive one-on-one mentorship, training and resources and also get to know other young entrepreneurs who can help, support and inspire you. The program ends with a virtual pitch in front of investors from all over the world.

I actually applied here and got deferred to the 2020 round so - if you apply, maybe we will meet :)

Social Entrepreneurship Programme


Like Yunus and Youth, what you win by applying here is not cash but free participation in a three-month training program that helps you build your social business. You will meet inspiring youth from all over the world, get access to great training, coaching and resources and get to pitch your idea to investors at the end of the course (this year, 2019, it will be in Russia).

The following competitions are great if you are just looking for recognition, publicity and honor but there are no cash prizes. They do offer free entrepreneurship online courses, though.

Entrepreneurship Campus Competitions

I am saying competitions (plural) because Entrepreneurship Campus actually gives out a range of prizes.

  • Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition for 15-35 year-old's with innovative ideas contributing toward the Sustainability Goals

  • Tourism Competition for an innovative project or idea related to the tourism, travel, and hospitality sector

  • General Competition (no age requirements) for ideas and implemented projects working toward the sustainability development goals

You can submit entries as both teams and individuals. Each prize also has two separate categories for novel ideas and already implemented initiatives, which I love because it creates a more equal playing ground.

P.S You can also check out the website just be inspired by past winners and current submissions.