East Africa entrepreneurs finalists in Sustainable Living Awards

NAIROBI, February, 2015 – Two East Africans are among the top seven finalists in last year’s young entrepreneurs contest run by Unilever

Charles Batte, 27 and Daviv Opio, 26, both from Uganda, were feted earlier this year at the 2014 USLP Young Entrepreneurs Awards held in London.

The annual competition, which is in its second year, seeks to get practical innovative solutions to the world’s biggest sustainability challenges. Charles Batte founded Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU), which helps young entrepreneurs by providing mentoring and training funded by trees planted by the entrepreneurs themselves and sold to companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.

David Opio, on the other hand, created Ensibuuko, a mobile and web application that integrates SMS and mobile money services, to handle savings and enable loans to smallholder farmers in Uganda.

The overall winner was 21-year-old Daniel Yu, founder of Reliefwatch, a software that helps medical clinics in developing countries to digitise and manage inventory records for better patient outcomes. He received funding support of €50,000 (Ksh5.2M) and the other six finalists €10,000 (Ksh 1M) each. All finalists also participate in a twelve month mentoring program which aims to support them scale their business’ revenue and impact and hone their entrepreneurial skills.

The Awards program, delivered by Unilever in partnership with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), recognises young people aged 30 and under who have come up with practical, scalable initiatives designed to tackle the challenge of sustainable living.

“We created these awards for young people because they will be the guardians of sustainable development long into the future. In its second year, the awards attracted 60 percent more entries compared to the first, resulting in a very high calibre of semi-finalists and the seven truly impressive finalists. It is a strong signal that young entrepreneurs are really welcoming access to the right support to help them lead the development of entrepreneurial responses to a changing world,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

The seven finalists took part in a four-week online development programme, followed by a three-day accelerator workshop in Cambridge, United Kingdom to help develop their ideas. They pitched their initiatives to a panel of judges in London, including entrepreneurs, sustainability experts and senior business executives.

“This is a joyous moment for us in East Africa to have young Ugandan entrepreneurs make it to the top of such a competitive global award.” commented Marc Engel, Unilever CEO for East Africa and emerging markets. “It is a clear sign that East Africa and Africa as a whole has a talented pool of young innovative thinkers who are ready to lead from the front in matters sustainability and to find local solutions to global challenges.”

Read more about the finalists and their entries at: http://www.unilever.com/aboutus/Awards-2014/

About Unilever Kenya

Unilever Kenya is one of the leading suppliers of food, home and personal care products across East Africa. With about 19,000 employees, Unilever is one of the largest private employers in Kenya.

Working to create a better future every day, Unilever helps people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Its portfolio includes Kenya’s best loved locally produced brands, OMO, Sunlight, Blue Band, Royco, Geisha and Vaseline, as well as key world’s renowned brands, like Knorr, Dove, Lux, Axe, among many others.

The company was ranked Top Employer for 2015 in Kenya by the Top Employer Institute, an international certification institute. In 2013, Unilever was recognized as a leading employer in Kenya by the Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) scooping six out of the ten IHRM awards. Unilever tea in Kenya was the first company worldwide to achieve Rain Forest Alliance Certified, in 2007, Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) farm standards. Since then it has continued to achieve this certification.

Unilever’s global ambition is to double the size of its business, whilst reducing the overall environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing the positive social impact. Unilever is committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all its agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling its growth from its environmental impact. Supporting its three big goals, Unilever has defined seven pillars, underpinned by targets encompassing social, environmental and economic areas. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com

Susan Njoroge

Mobile: +254 719 371 355
Tel: +254 6922 272

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