And then there was one.
In a nail-biting finish on June 15, Malaysia’s Picha Project bagged the first ever Allianz Future Generations Award, winning a grant of 40,000 euros. The social venture, co founded by Kim Lim, Suzanne Ling and Lee Swee Lin, creates job opportunities for refugees in Malaysia through a food delivery and catering service.
This was a culmination of six months of intensive mentoring that nine shortlisted social ventures went through under Impact Hub’s Investment Ready Program, to which Allianz is lending its expertise. In a packed auditorium at the Allianz headquarters in Munich, Kim Lim explained to a jury of five judges why Picha Project deserved the grant.
Since 2016, the project has generated an income of about 320,000 euros for ten refugee families, who have served over 60,000 meals in the period. The entrepreneurs aim to involve up to 1,000 families over the coming few years, giving them a secure livelihood so they can focus on educating and developing their young members.
“We plan to use this grant to develop an online platform that will directly link these refugee families to customers,” says 28-year-old Kim Lim. “We also plan to use part of the funds to develop non-perishable products and expand our business to other countries.”
It could have been the passion of the three founders that shone through or it could be their well thought out business plan. What made Picha Project stand out from the other eight contenders?
“Simplicity!” says Christopher Worthley, one of the judges and Executive Director of Allianz Foundation for North America. “Who doesn’t love food? Quality catering with a sophisticated marketing strategy is a bestseller the world over. It’s hard to ignore the charm of this simple approach.”
To be successful, a social entrepreneur must keep certain things in mind before starting on the journey, advises Worthley. Relevance, scalability, versatility and simplicity are some traits that can boost a social venture’s chances of reaching its goal. “If an idea is a ‘one size fits all’, it has much greater potential.”
Kim Lim admits the win was something of a surprise, given how promising the ideas of the other competitors were. “It was an unexpected win as our project is just two years old and we do have a lot to improve on. The other participants also had impressive projects. My personal favorite was Carlotas. Empathy is something we all need,” she says.
Sofia Garcia Garcia, SOS Children’s Villages representative to the United Nations, said at the event that it was important to keep in mind that young people across the world are not homogenous. ”A 20-year-old girl in Sudan faces different issues from a 20-year-old in Denmark. Instead of assuming we know what the youth want, we should take the time to listen to them.”
Social inclusion is one of the pillars of Allianz’s corporate responsibility strategy. Through the Encouraging Future Generations program, the company aims to arm purpose driven social entrepreneurs with the tools they need to make a difference in society.
“This is just one of our initiatives for social inclusion as a responsible corporate citizen. The children of today are our employees, our customers and our leaders of tomorrow. Without empowering them, we cannot expect a sustainable future for us,” said Katharina Latif, Allianz’s Head of Corporate Responsibility.
Congratulations to the winners and good luck to the participants. The force is with you!
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