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Seven young entrepreneurs with ideas that will change the world

May 2016: Impossible problems? Not for them. Seven finalists of the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards all win support for innovative contributions to UN Global Goals.

We think the ingenuity and determination of young entrepreneurs can help identify sustainable solutions to what are often seen as impossible problems.

And we've just met seven new reasons why.

Finalists with ideas that back the Global Goals

This year, seven people with seven great ideas reached the final round of our Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards, run in partnership with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and in collaboration with Ashoka.

Our awards categories were inspired by eight of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development ‒ challenging entrepreneurs to come up with business ideas that can help make the world a better place.

While overall winner Dr Sara Saeed scooped the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize for her innovative doctHERs project in Pakistan, all seven finalists shared a total of more than €200,000 in financial support and customised mentoring from Unilever and CISL.

“I want my daughter to see a world where fairness, uniqueness and justice is the right of every living being.” Dr Sara Saeed, doctHERs

Dr Sara Saeed's doctHERs project empowers women and improves the health of people in Pakistan.

“I am an architect with a determination to change the world by tackling environmental and social problems.” Oscar Andres Mendez Gerardino, Conceptos Plasticos

Oscar Andres Mendez Gerardino, 34, recycles plastic and transforms it to high-quality, safe, and low-cost housing in Colombia.

“My passion is justice. I want my children to grow up in a world where every person counts.” Toby Norman, Simprints

Toby Norman, 29, uses software technology to help global researchers, NGOs and governments accurately link people to their digital records in Bangladesh.

“Everyone has a dream for a better tomorrow. I change smallholder farmers’ lives in a meaningful way.” Liisa Petrykowska, Ignitia

Liisa Petrykowska, 31, developed the world’s first accurate tropical weather forecasting model to help smallholder farmers in West Africa.

“I am empowering women cassava farmers to realise their full economic potential by improving the cassava value chain.” Cynthia Ndubuisi, Kadosh Production Company (KPC)

Cynthia Ndubuisi, 25, helps women cassava farmers improve their livelihoods in Nigeria.

“I believe chocolate lovers and brands must celebrate the cacao farmers behind the bar.” Emily Stone, Uncommon Cacao

Emily Stone, 31, works directly with cacao farmers in Guatemala to deliver premium quality ‒ and transparently-sourced ‒ cacao.

“As social entrepreneurs we can, and must, be innovative as we work to elevate the human condition, but we must do so sustainably.” Dr Gavin Armstrong, Lucky Iron Fish

Dr Gavin Armstrong, 29, is using international sales of a fish-shaped iron ingot to substantially reduce instances of iron deficiency in Cambodia.

More than 900 entries from 99 countries

This year, 927 young entrepreneurs from 99 countries entered the awards on the Ashoka Changemakers platform, an online community that connects entrepreneurs around the world. All finalists went through a demanding interview process and an intensive accelerator programme to prepare them for their final pitch.

Praising all the finalists, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: "We need new ideas, new energy, new business models – particularly from the young and the entrepreneurial. They need our help and support to realise their initiatives and change the world to create a bright future.”

Be part of collective action

The next round of Awards opens in May 2017. We believe that collective action is needed to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world. If you would like to stay informed about news from the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards network, please register your interest here.

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