The Game Changers

Under our 'Encouraging Future Generations' program, 10 social startups have been shortlisted to receive mentoring as well as an opportunity to win a grant to scale up their business. Who are they and how are they making a difference to society? 

Real heroes don’t need superpowers. Sometimes, all they need is a helping hand. In October last year, we launched a partnership with Impact Hub under the ‘Encouraging Future Generations’ program to support social entrepreneurs working to empower children and youth in Brazil, Germany, Malaysia and Turkey.

Ten ventures made the cut. Under the Investment Ready Program, to which Allianz is lending its expertise, these finalists will go through rigorous training in the next few months to make their businesses investment-ready.

At the grand finale on June 15, the finalists will pitch their businesses to a judging panel. The best pitch will win a grant of 40,000 euros from Allianz. Who are these social entrepreneurs and how are they planning to change the world – or at least the playing field for future generations? Meet the game changers...

The digital gateway for employees to become mentors for young disadvantaged people.

After spending years in the corporate volunteering sector, Suska Dreesbach-Bundy, Barbara Scheck and Julia Winkler realized that companies and employees were willing to engage socially but were held back by a lack of structured formats.

That’s why they founded Volunteer Vision, which provides an online mentoring platform with e-learning material. The platform allows companies to easily integrate volunteering opportunities into their employees’ everyday lives. Through mentorship, the program helps underprivileged youth develop their professional skills.

An expert institution for child trauma diagnostics and treatment, and forerunner in youth welfare.

When Claus Gollmann started working in child psychiatry in the 1980s, there was little public awareness of domestic abuse and limited public funding for specialists.

Gollmann realized that child victims needed therapy that eliminated stigma and helped them heal emotionally. He founded KiD, where therapists use novel methods to help traumatized children in cases where conventional therapy fails. So far, KiD has helped more than 600 children overcome their negative experiences. 

Using football to educate and empower vulnerable youth in South Africa and Germany.

As part of his civil service, Florian Zech spent a year in an orphanage in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Seeing how children there were exposed to street violence and had little chance of escaping poverty disturbed him. He started ‘Night League’ football to keep youngsters busy during hours when criminal activity peaked.

But a shortage of soccer courts and a question mark over the safety of young participants forced him to do a rethink. Zech then came up with the idea of developing safe hubs for children and youth. Since 2007, AMANDLA educational centers across South Africa have been combining football classes with school lessons. The hubs keep young people off the streets and enable their personal development. Ole Brandmeyer is now spearheading plans to bring AMANDLA to Berlin, Germany.

Developing social and emotional skills like empathy, fairness and respect through a program based on playfulness and art.

Our differences make the world an exciting place, believe Carla Douglas, Carla Scheidenegger and Fabiana Guiterrez. With this belief, they founded Carlotas, which produces creative learning material and tutoring formats for schools to promote empathy and teach children to question social norms. The idea is to tackle problems such as bullying and gender stereotyping.

Carlotas also offers its training material to companies that want to imbibe these values in their employees. The revenue generated is used for funding the program in public schools. It also offers open-source material online and sells children’s books and educational games.

Offering a solution to vision-related school dropouts by democratizing access to eyeglasses.

Limited vision shouldn’t limit your potential. A firm believer in this, Ralf Toenjes co-founded Renovatio, a non-governmental organization that produces eyeglasses for a dollar to enable underprivileged children and youth with vision problems to attend school and work more efficiently.

Renovatio used funds generated through donations to set up two mobile eye clinics in Brazil and provide eyeglasses to 17,000 people in 19 states. Building on the idea, Toenjes partnered with Axel Ali to found VerBem. The founders are exploring a hybrid business model that can generate funds for producing eyeglasses for disadvantaged youth. VerBem aims to help 1 million people with vision limitations by 2021.

Social enterprise that empowers refugees in Malaysia through a food delivery and catering business.

When Kim Lim, Swee Lin and Suzanne Ling were language and music tutors in a refugee shelter in Malaysia, they couldn’t help but notice the mouth-watering aromas that wafted around as refugees cooked their meals. The three saw an opportunity to give these families an income stream through a catering business and the Picha Project was born.

Today, it generates income for over a dozen families from Myanmar, Yemen, Syria and Ethiopia, taking up catering orders for up to 300 guests. Thanks to the project, these refugee families can now afford to send their children to school.

Providing livelihood to poor single mothers and disabled youth via agriculture and cottage industry.

ANB is derived from the Tamil word ‘AnBu’, which means love and care. It’s this love and care that Gugen Navamani’s ANB Agro extends to those who badly need it. The project began in 2010, when Navamani left his job as a lecturer to follow his passion - agriculture.

When he set up a chili farm in Lunas Kedah, Malaysia in 2013, local villagers maintained it. To develop the community further, Navamani founded ANB Agro Trainer in 2014, offering agricultural training along with language and vocational programs. The focus of the project is single mothers and disabled youth. 

Transforming fashion into a driver of creativity and social impact for vulnerable communities, including children and youth.

Fashion and activism can go together, assert Ece Altunmaral and Edipcan Yildiz, the founders of Reflect – a fashion label that provides a voice for social issues as well as enables disadvantaged youth to follow their creative dreams. From refugee rights to feminism and environmental awareness, all kinds of social messages feature in the brand’s designs. Some of these designs come from the artworks of refugee children who participate in the monthly art therapy workshops organized by Reflect.

The venture uses 10 percent of its revenue to help underprivileged youth follow a career in creative industries. The design team also works with women-owned textile ateliers and uses organic, recycled or upcycled material for its products.

A digital marketplace for young women to find role models, capacity building events and networks.

A lack of opportunities still plagues women in the workspace in many countries. Melek Pulatkonak wanted to provide these opportunities to young women in Turkey. So she founded a digital platform, Binyaprak, where successful female professionals can extend mentorship to aspirants and help them build a professional network.

From advice to jobs and events listings to coaching, the Binyaprak platform serves as a hub for women to access all the tools they need to succeed. It covers several industries, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors. 

Teaching young people how to code via story-telling.

At a tender age of 17 years, Kadir Can Kirkoyun decided to turn his hobby into a business by becoming a professional app developer.

Together with his brother Kaan and two friends, he built an app, Scode, that teaches young people to code via story-telling. Now 19, the young entrepreneur continues to work on more innovative education formats.

As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our Forward Looking Statement disclaimer:


Anja Rechenberg
Allianz SE
Phone: +49 89 3800 4511

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