Ben & Jerry’s scoops Europe’s top social entrepreneurs

Ben & Jerry’s has chosen its pick of the most promising social entrepreneurs in Europe as the brand’s Join Our Core competition reaches its final stage.

A force for social good

Ben & Jerry's 'Join our core' animated advert

More than 430 sustainable business start-ups from nine different countries entered this year’s Join Our Core contest. Now 18 finalists are set to gather in London on 12 June, hoping to impress a panel of judges including Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield and British fashion designer Helen Storey.

The nine national champions will receive €10,000 each plus mentoring from the ethical enterprise gurus at competition partner Ashoka.

Winners will also have their business logo featured on an exclusive Ben & Jerry’s tub, and get a special invitation to the brand’s 35th anniversary celebrations at its headquarters in Vermont, USA this year.

Join Our Core is inspired by Ben & Jerry’s dream to find young business mooo-vers that share its philosophy of people being as important as profit. Launched in 2012 across five countries, the 2013 competition has expanded to include the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria and Switzerland.

"When Ben and I set-up the company in 1978, we believed giving back to the community was as important as making great tasting ice-cream", says Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s. "We’re humbled by the number and standard of entries we’ve seen this year, and can’t wait to meet and hear more from this year’s finalists."

Ashoka UK co-Director Rob Wilson adds: "We are truly excited about the incredibly strong applications coming in from all nine European countries. It is clear that technology is being utilised more than ever as a driving force for social good. We're seeing a rise in the demand for localism, sustainability and resource sharing activated by technology"

In addition to the 18 finalists, 100 entrepreneurs who submitted entries before 10 April have already been rewarded with a year’s supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream.

The finalists

  • MyMind, Ireland: providing psychological and psychotherapy services to people who are seeking mental health support
  • CoderDojo, Ireland: teaching young people computer code to develop websites, apps, games and more
  • ROCK YOUR LIFE!, Germany: pairing school pupils from socially disadvantaged backgrounds with college students for one-to-one coaching
  • Elefunds, Germany: online fundraising tools for charities connecting companies, customers and social networks in a unique way
  • Green Riders, Finland: a travel platform that helps people reduce the carbon emissions created by enabling them to share journeys with other members
  • Sharetribe, Finland: an open source platform that anyone can use to create a local community marketplace
  • MAC-UK, UK: providing mental health support to young offenders, in the surroundings where they feel most comfortable
  • Spice, UK: awarding time credits for community volunteering, which can be redeemed for leisure, cultural and learning activities
  • Granny’s Finest, Netherlands: matching young designers with local women who can bring their knitwear fashion ideas into reality
  • Peerby, Netherlands: a lending technology platform which allows members to borrow and share items needed or owned with their neighbours
  • Dazin, Denmark: providing renewable cooking fuel pellets for domestic and commercial customers
  • Hygge Factory, Denmark: empowering teenagers to share their stories through inspiring books, records and films
  • Veg and the City, Switzerland: providing city-dwellers with urban vegetable gardens and the skills to grow their own crops
  • Mr Green, Switzerland: providing a service to collect and sort recyclable materials from people’s homes
  • Ung Omsorg (Young Care), Sweden: Employing 600 young people to keep residents company in 50 elderly care homes, with regular visits
  • Mitt Liv (My Life), Sweden: enabling immigrants to gain employment through education and mentorship
  • NSP (New Solar Pump), Austria: providing solar-powered water pumps to help poor communities gain access to clean water.

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