Can business be used to create positive social change? Chivas Regal certainly thinks so.
‘The Venture’ is about searching for some of the most innovative startups from around the world, and helping them achieve their goals. It’s the brainchild of Chivas Regal, which has allocated a $1 million fund to invest in extraordinary startups. “More than just competition, we have an overarching mission to inspire entrepreneurial thinkers wherever they may be.”
Just this July, for the second year of ‘The Venture’, Chivas Regal has chosen five of the most innovative social enterprises from a roster of 2,500 applications and 27 finalists, giving out a total of $750,000 in prizes. The event was held at Pier 59 in New York, hosted by The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah.
The biggest share of the funding ($300,000) went to Conceptos Plásticos from Colombia. Their work is all about finding a way to transform plastic waste into actual construction materials that will be used for permanent housing. Homelessness is a problem that thousands of poor families experience every day. These building materials are vital for the most marginalized communities to change their lives, starting with physical infrastructure.
UK-based WeFarm, a pioneering knowledge-sharing platform designed for small-scale farmers, won the next largest share of the funding at $200,000.
Receiving $100,000 is fashion accessories producer Wakami, which supports community-based businesses in Guatemala. The same amount went to mobile communication device EyeControl, which has been designed for ‘locked-in’ patients.
Completing the winning roster is Coolar, which was awarded $50,000. Coolar is developing a healthcare cooling system in areas that have no electricity, giving doctors the ability to preserve medicines that could save many lives.
Launched in Spetember 2014, ‘The Venture’ has allowed Chivas Regal to invest over $2 million in the last two years, focusing on “a new generation of extraordinary startups, that do well by doing good, because we believe generosity and success go hand in hand.”
Social businesses who are coming up with innovations to solve the world’s most pressing problems can apply for the competition, and successful applicants will basically have their opportunity to share what their idea is about. Basically, they will be pitching for a share of the $1 million fund, and if they are successful, they will also receive world-class mentorship along with it.
Upon revealing the 27 shortlisted finalists for 2016, Chivas Regal Global Brand Director Richard Black said, “This year, applications to The Venture more than doubled, demonstrating the growing trend towards businesses doing well in the world, and reinforcing Chivas Regal’s ongoing commitment to social enterprise. Our founders were entrepreneurs who gave back to their community, and The Venture is continuing their legacy by discovering and supporting businesses that are committed to redefining the role of business in creating a better future.”
All 27 finalists then traveled to Oxford and participated in an Accelerator Week program headed by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. This July, the five grand finalists had to pitch their innovations in front of a live audience, as well as a judging panel. The panel decided how much share should be given to each of the social enterprises, based on the potential of their business models to spur sustainable social change and scale up.
One of the judges for the competition was Eva Longoria, an actress and social activist. She strongly believes in the importance of the competition and what it stands for, saying “I’m so grateful there are people in the world who can figure out solutions to complex global problems. We all live in a global community and I absolutely believe social entrepreneurship is the only way we can create positive social change.”
Other members of the panel included Sonal Shah, Joe Huff, and Pernod Ricard Chairman and CEO Alexandre Ricard, who owns Chivas Regal.
Chivas Regal’s commitment to social entrepreneurship mirrors the founders’ desire to give back to the community. Chivas can trace its roots to as early as 1801, and this Blended Scotch Whiskey sells over 4 million nine-liter cases every year. Chivas offers 12 year-old, 18 year-old, and 25 year-old variants, giving consumers the best of the best.
The business has been incredibly successful in capturing the market and building preference and equity for the brand. It is an example of how far you can go if you do things right, but it is also an example of how profit can be used to create change that matters.
Chivas Regal is starting to accept applications for ‘The Venture’ Year 3. If you have a bright solution that can create genuine change in your part of the world, then it’s time to make those solutions come to life and scale it up so that more people can benefit. Submit your application now!