On Sunday, December 13, Chemonics awarded two teams of young problem-solvers with funding and in-kind support to assist in the further development and scaling of their innovative solutions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Chemonics’ President and CEO Jamey Butcher announced the awards during the closing ceremony of the UNLEASH Global Innovation Lab’s UNLEASH+ program, a six-month pre-accelerator for young social entrepreneurs.
“These awards represent our continued commitment, as UNLEASH’s Lead Scale Partner, to this exciting platform for young people whose bold ideas and fresh perspectives are effecting positive change within their communities and beyond. As development implementers, we recognize the need to support this kind of energy and creative thinking as we strive to meet the SDGs,” said Mr. Butcher.
Chemonics split its $20,000 commitment between two teams into $10,000 cash, and $10,000 in-kind support. Sahithya Anumolu, Vivek Piddempally, Eshwar Bandi, Shramanth Rajarathnam, Sai Kondigari, Meher Kshatri, Akhila Nookala, and Nagesh Jogi accepted half of the award on behalf of Inqui-Lab Foundation, an Indian non-profit that supports design thinking education for marginalized students. The other half went to Australian firm 123+, represented by Olivia Roney, Lee Crockford, and Sean Tran, which provides bespoke strategy and consulting to organizations, teams, governments, and individuals working toward LGBTIQ+ equality and equity.
Mr. Butcher served as one of four judges for the livestreamed “Dragon’s Den,” during which the top 10 teams participating in UNLEASH+ pitched their ventures in the hopes of earning grant support. The judges evaluated each pitch using the following criteria: a validated innovative solution and prototype, clear impact potential and scalability, long-term feasibility and an executable go-to-market approach, and the strength of the team.
“While we were impressed with each of the solutions presented, Chemonics chose to award 123+ and Inqui-Lab Foundation because their business plans align with our priorities of inclusion and community engagement. We have a lot to offer in support of their desire to scale, and we can learn from them as they continue to support LGBTIQ+ and education causes globally,” said Mr. Butcher.
123+ is a global network that strives to build the capacities of initiatives working to achieve the rights, freedoms, and well-being of LGBTIQ+ communities around the world. In addition to consulting on topics such as business strategy and impact measurement, 123+ curates a range of free, entry-level, capacity building tools on a digital platform.
Inqui-Lab Foundation nurtures problem-solving capacity in the next generation. Through Inqui-Lab’s two-year Think & Make program, students ages 12 to 15 learn to apply design thinking methodology to solve real world problems that they care about. In the process, they develop the skills necessary for future success.
Chemonics will brainstorm potential collaboration opportunities with each team in December, including ways for Chemonics to support their scaling strategies. Chemonics will also collaborate with Rational Games Founder Mark Young, who awarded support to the teams in Sunday’s Dragon’s Den as well. Joint support from Chemonics and Rational Games will accelerate achievement of 123+ and Inqui-Lab’s immediate milestones after UNLEASH+ and facilitate connections to new partners.
“Chemonics is excited to collaborate with both teams in 2021 on our strategic efforts around inclusion and community engagement company-wide and also find connections with our programs around the world,” said Chemonics’ Innovation at Scale Director Lauren Behr.
For more information about UNLEASH, visit www.unleash.org.