The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is the first-of-its-kind global competition for women social entrepreneurs who are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and inspiring entire communities to act to create the world we want by 2030. The WE Empower Challenge honors innovative women leaders from around the world who are pushing the SDGs forward through sustainable business practices and inspiring others to follow suit. The opportunity recognizes their innovative work and provides Awardees with capacity-building training sessions and opportunities to connect with an unparalleled global network to advance their enterprises. This program elevates and showcases the valuable contribution women entrepreneurs and business leaders can make toward the SDGs and solving the world’s greatest challenges.
In 2021, the WE Empower Challenge Awardees will participate in events surrounding the 76th UN General Assembly as well as will connect with renowned business experts from around the world. Awardees will also participate in a dynamic pitch competition, hosted by fashion designer, activist and Vital Voices Board Member Diane von Furstenberg, to present their business for the opportunity to receive a $20,000 grant.
To be eligible to enter this competition, applicants must meet all of the following criteria. Finalists will be required to provide evidence of sales (i.e. tax returns and/or audited financial records).
- I am a woman entrepreneur with lead decision making ability in a business or organization
- My business/organization has been in operation for more than three years
- I employ at least three full time staff (or full time equivalent)
- My business/organization generates at least $100,000 USD in annual sales or revenue
- I am proficient in spoken and written English
- I am at least 21 years old
- I am available to travel to New York, NY and participate in all events from Friday, September 17 through Saturday, September 25 2021 (COVID-19 travel restrictions permitting) AND if necessary, I am able participate in a virtual program from August through October 2021.
Applicants will be assessed based on a variety of factors, including the following considerations.
- Commit to the entire week of the in-person program (travel permitting) or a virtual program held from August through October 2021 – no exceptions.
- Applicant’s business or organization has a substantial impact on the SDGs and a clear vision for how their business will create the future we want in 2030.
- Help shape the community dialogue about women’s advancement and the SDG’s in their region, and wield the influence necessary.
Applicants with more than one business or organization, please complete the application regarding the business/organization THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO FOCUS ON during this Global Challenge opportunity, if you are selected to participate in the program.
What to Expect
Applicants must answer basic identifying information about themselves, their business, and their primary country of business. -Applicants must identify which world region they are located in from the following regions:
- Europe and North America
- Middle East and North Africa
- Sub-Saharan Africa
- Latin America and Caribbean
The application requires answers about how your work relates to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and your vision for a sustainable future.
The application asks you how you will help foster gender equality through your work.
Applicants will be asked to answer several security questions, provide social media profile information (if applicable), and agree to the terms and conditions within the contest entry form.
Finally, applicants must submit a two-minute video using the following guidelines.
Please submit a short video of yourself (maximum of two minutes) providing the information and answering the questions listed below, in English. A video submission is a required part of the competition.
In designing your response, please remember that less attention is paid to the quality of your video and more attention is given to the quality of your response. It is acceptable, if you wish, to make your short video using a smartphone.
What to answer in your video
- State your full name (first name and family name)
- State the name of your organization and your job title
- State the name of the country your business is located
- What is the mission of your organization?
- What do you hope to achieve if you are selected to participate as a finalist in this competition?
- What is the impact of your activities on the UN SDGs?
How to submit your video
- Video attachments may be hosted on a video site such as YouTube or Vimeo
- You may also upload a video file within the application platform
- File size should not exceed 20 MB
- Preferred file types are .MP4, .MOV, and .WMV
- Please do not upload any further written material with your video, as the judges will not consider these. The written component of your entry should be fully explained within the provided form fields.