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Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards 2016–17

2016–17 Awards opening in May 2017: register your interest.

About the awards

Now in its fourth year, the awards are delivered by Unilever and CISL to support and celebrate inspirational entrepreneurs aged 35 and under who have developed a product, service or application that tackles some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges.

Unilever and CISL believe that the ingenuity and determination of the younger generation is critical in helping to identify sustainable solutions to what are often seen as impossible problems.

927 entrepreneurs entered the 2015–16 awards from 99 countries. The overall winner, Dr Sara Saeed, was selected from a shortlist of seven finalists following a demanding interview process and an intensive accelerator programme to prepare finalists for the final pitch.

As part of the prize, Dr Sara Saeed was awarded €50,000 and she is being supported by CISL and Unilever through a tailored mentoring programme over the course of the year.

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.”

Read more about our overall winner of the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize this year and our other finalists

Improving the healthcare and empowerment of women in Pakistan

Unilever and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) announced Dr Sara Saeed as the winner of the third HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize.

Dr Sara Saeed, 29, co-founder of doctHERs – a digital platform which connects impoverished communities in Pakistan to high-quality healthcare while reintegrating qualified female doctors into the workforce – was awarded the prize at a prestigious awards ceremony in London.


Dr Saeed receiving award
Dr Sara Saeed collecting her award from Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever and Polly Courtice, Director, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

While 90 per cent of Pakistan’s 120 million citizens have little or no access to quality healthcare, sociocultural barriers prevent around 87 per cent of qualified women doctors from working. Since May 2015, doctHERs has directly impacted 15,000 lives through clinical services, 100,000 lives indirectly through community outreach, and now employs fifteen doctors, five nurses and five specialists. By 2020, doctHERS aims to scale its nurse-assisted video consultation programme to over 500 clinics across Pakistan, directly impacting 1.2 million people.

Dr Sara Saeed said: “When a patient gets treated in my clinic, and when a doctor gets a job and when a nurse is empowered in a community – my passion increases every day. I’m honoured to have received this award and delighted that the work of doctHERs in Pakistan has been recognised, especially in light of the innovative and inspiring projects of the other finalists. With financial and mentoring support, I am now looking forward to working with community partners and organisations such as Unilever to impact even more lives.”

Polly Courtice, Director of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership said: "Congratulations to Dr Saeed, The Prince of Wales Prize winner for 2016 and to all our finalists – inspiring leaders tackling some of the world’s greatest sustainability challenges on the ground in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan, Colombia, Guatemala and across West Africa. Together with Unilever, we look forward to supporting these ground-breaking initiatives with research insights from the Cambridge community and our worldwide network of business leaders.”

Read more about doctHERS

The 2015–16 finalists

We are also very proud to support the six other finalists from this year's awards. Each of these inspiring entrepreneurs received a cash prize of €10,000 for their exciting initiatives, and also a year of tailored mentoring support.

Gavin ArmstrongGavin Armstrong, 29

Initiative: Lucky Iron Fish

Country of impact: Cambodia

A social enterprise using a buy-one, give-one model to distribute an iron ingot cast in the shape of a fish in Cambodia. When used in cooking, the Lucky Iron Fish has been shown to substantially reduce instances of iron deficiency.

Read more

Oscar Andres Mendez GerardiOscar Andres Mendez Gerardino, 34

Initiative: Conceptos Plasticos

Country of impact: Colombia

A Colombian enterprise that recycles plastic and transforms it into construction materials that are used to provide high-quality, safe, low-cost housing.

Read more

Cynthia NdubuisiCynthia Ndubuisi, 25

Initiative: Kadosh Production Company (KPC)

Country of impact: Nigeria

Based in Nigeria, KPC helps women cassava farmers improve their livelihoods by making processing easier and the sale of finished products more profitable.

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Toby NormanToby Norman, 29

Initiative: Simprints

Country of impact: Bangladesh

A non-profit tech start-up that has developed a mobile biometric scanner with associated open-source software that can be used by global researchers, NGOs and governments to accurately link people to their digital records.

Read more

Liisa PetrykowskaLiisa Petrykowska, 31

Initiative: Ignitia

Region of impact: West Africa

A social enterprise that has developed the world’s first accurate tropical weather forecasting model. Based in West Africa, forecasts are sent to small-scale farmers via SMS.

Read more


Emily StoneEmily Stone, 31

Initiative: Uncommon Cacao

Region of impact: Central America

Based in Guatemala, Uncommon Cacao works directly with cacao farmers to deliver premium-quality and transparently sourced cacao to the speciality chocolate market. Cacao is a bean-like seed from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted; they are the ingredients for making chocolate.

Read more

2016 winners: hear their stories


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