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Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award

The Swiss Re Foundation Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award recognises entrepreneurial initiatives that take innovative approaches to building resilient societies and realising the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While resilience is the core theme of this annual programme, its specific focus changes from year to year.

Our 2020 award will focus on innovative solutions for climate-smart agriculture[i], including crop and livestock production as well as aquaculture. We’re looking for business-minded organisations that provide tools, technologies and approaches enabling smallholder and/or medium scale farmers in low-income communities to carry out agricultural activities in a way that is both environmentally sustainable and socially beneficial.

Ventures that address one or more of the following areas are welcome to apply: Climate mitigation and resource conservation; climate adaptation and risk management; increased productivity and food security; improved revenue opportunities for farmers; financial inclusion of farmers. A more detailed description of the approaches targeted by the award can be found in the appendix "Scope".

The award comprises a financial grant from the Swiss Re Foundation and, depending on the nature, scope and needs of the enterprise, non-financial contributions such as coaching and technical advice from Swiss Re employees and coaches.

Three finalists pitch their ventures face-to-face to an independent award jury of senior Swiss Re experts, academic representatives and selected Swiss Re clients. The total prize money of USD 700 000 is divided among the winner (which receives up to USD 350 000) and the two runners-up.

In addition, Swiss Re employees around the world are invited to vote for their favourite of the three finalists. The finalist that garners the most votes receives the "Employee Award" and a special prize. The same enterprise may win both the Employee Award and the Resilience Award in a given year.


We encourage enterprises that fit the above-described scope and meet the following criteria to apply:

Level of maturity:
Are established as formal start-ups, growing and on a clear path to full or partial financial sustainability (e.g. if only some operations are commercially based) but still dependent on grants (or other support) to improve their business model and/or reach full financial sustainability.

Innovation and technology focus:
Leverage technology or an innovation in product or service delivery to deliver value to smallholder and/or medium scale farmers in low-income countries.

Mission and purpose:
Have a strong social purpose while using commercial mechanisms to achieve sustainability and scale.

Target group:
Serve smallholder and/or medium scale farmers involved in crop production, livestock production, and/or aquaculture. Low-income and resource-constrained farmers should be a clear focus and priority and/or represent more than 30% of people served. Candidates should have a deep understanding of their end users' specific circumstances and address the social and climate-related challenges they face.

Ideally, operate in low-income communities.


The selection process starts with an online form. As and when candidates “make the cut” at each stage of selection, we’ll ask them to provide more information and address increasingly detailed enquiries about their enterprises. Candidates should have the following team members available to participate at the following stages:

  • the founder(s), for a one- to two-hour interview between mid-November 2019 and mid-January of 2020 (top 12 candidates)
  • the management, to receive representatives of the Swiss Re Foundation for two days of on-site due diligence between February and early April 2020 (top 6 candidates)
  • at least one founder, for coaching sessions between April and May 2020 to prepare a pitch for the face-to-face event and award ceremony (3 finalists)
  • the team, to collaborate with the Swiss Re Foundation on preparing a brief video about the enterprise in the second half of April 2020 (3 finalists); the video must be ready no later than three weeks before the award ceremony
  • at least one founder, to make an in-person pitch for the enterprise in May/June 2020 (tbc)

More information about the date and location of the face-to-face pitch and award ceremony will be published at www.swissrefoundation.org in November 2019. Finalists will be contacted individually to arrange travel and accommodation (the costs of which will be defrayed by the Foundation).


To apply for the 2020 Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award, complete the online questionaire about your enterprise by 18 September 2019, 23:59 CEST. Only applications completed in English and submitted by this deadline will be considered.

If you have questions or need guidance, you’re welcome to contact us at swissrefoundation@swissre.com.

Note on intellectual property

Application documents are distributed to a small group of Swiss Re employees and jury members who sign a confidentiality agreement in advance. All ideas submitted remain the property of the submitter.

[i] Climate smart agriculture (CSA) is agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (climate adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (climate mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals (source of definition: FAO).

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