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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. Whilst resilience is the core theme of the annual award programme, its specific focus changes from year to year with current trends and developments.

The 2018 award will focus on innovative solutions that offer affordable access to renewable energy for households in low-income communities. We are looking for business-minded approaches that tackle behavioural and/or other barriers to successful adoption of renewable energy in such communities and are able to cover households’ basic needs.

The following technology areas are in scope: improved cookstoves, solar lanterns, solar home systems, decentralised grids, productive uses, mini wind turbines and biogas generators. A more detailed overview of these areas and the challenges we would like to address can be downloaded here.

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

Three finalists are invited to pitch their ventures face-to-face to an award jury consisting of senior Swiss Re experts, academic representatives and selected Swiss Re clients. The total prize money of CHF 800 000 is divided amongst the winner (which receives up to CHF 400 000) and the two runners-up.

The award programme also offers Swiss Re employees across the world a chance to select their favourite enterprise from the three finalists. The finalist with 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.


The Foundation seeks enterprises that address the above-listed challenges and meet the following criteria:

  • 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 focus:      
    Understand their customers and the systemic and/or behavioural barriers that prevent broader access to and use of renewable energy. Address these barriers with their business model and provide an innovative solution, whether a technology, product, service or delivery model, to a problem faced in the respective industry.
  • Mission and purpose:           
    Have a social purpose whilst using commercial mechanisms to achieve sustainability and scale.
  • Geography:
    Operate in emerging and/or developing markets in no- or poor-grid areas.
  • Target group:
    Serve moderately to very poor communities in rural and/or urban areas.


The Resilience Award selection process consists of four phases. Applicants are informed at the end of each phase whether they have been selected to proceed to the next one.

Starting with a simple online form, applicants are required to invest more time and disclose more information if and as they progress from each stage of the selection process to the next. Depending on how far they progress, they may need to make representatives of the enterprise available for the following activities:

  • The founder(s), for a one- to two-hour interview between mid-November and end of December 2017 (top 12 candidates)
  • The management, to receive representatives of the Swiss Re Foundation for one to two days of on-site due diligence between early February and early March 2018 (top 6 candidates)
  • At least one founder, for coaching sessions between mid-April and mid-May 2018 to prepare a pitch for the face-to-face event and award ceremony in Africa
  • The team, to collaborate with the Swiss Re Foundation on preparing a brief video about the enterprise between the middle and end of April 2018 (3 finalists); the video must be ready no later than three weeks before the face-to-face event and award ceremony
  • At least one founder, to present his/her pitch in Africa in May 2018


The application process for the Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award 2018 is currently closed. If you have questions you are welcome to contact us at swissrefoundation@swissre.com.

2016 Resilience Award Winner

Winner 2016: Virtual physical therapy for the elderly

SimpleTherapy offers video-based, head-to-toe exercise therapy programs that help seniors improve their condition.

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