Win a total prize fund of $230,000 as a Social Entrepreneur in the Ashoka/HSBC Green Skills Innovation Challenge 2021

Are you a social entrepreneur equipping those most in need of opportunity with green skills?

Then apply for the Ashoka/HSBC Green Skills Innovation Challenge 2021 and be the lucky social entrepreneur to win up to $20,000 in grant funding from a total prize fund of $230,000.

Application Deadline: June 4, 2021


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The Green Skills Innovation Challenge will award social entrepreneurs with up to $20,000 of grant funding from a total prize fund of $230,000.

All Applicants will:

Receive feedback from Ashoka and/or HSBC representatives. 

Semifinalists (up to 50) will

  •  Receive additional feedback from experts from HSBC & Ashoka  
  • Be referred as semifinalists in the announcement communications  
  • Access a webinar for semifinalists to connect with peers


To apply: 

  • You must have incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization
  • You must be over 18 by the time you apply
  • If your product has not launched, you must have a business plan and MVP (prototype, pilot, or another proof of concept)
  • Entries will only be accepted in English (winners will be expected to engage in activities that require English proficiency)

They are open to entries from the following markets:

Additional terms: 

  • Only one application per initiative will be accepted 
  • Employees of HSBC, advertising agencies, promotion agencies, and other service providers for this Challenge, their immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling, regardless of where they reside) are not eligible
  • Partners or initiatives that are already financed or supported by HSBC its affiliates, subsidiaries, or joint ventures are not eligible

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Application Instructions

The challenge will have up to 15 winners, with at least 3 being youth-led organizations. The Challenge Team will decide funding amounts awarded to each winner. There will be two award categories:

Most Innovative solutions: 

  • Awarded to solutions with proven models who have the potential to begin scaling their impact  
  • Winners receive and up to $20k cash prize plus support & mentoring from HSBC and Ashoka on how to scale 
  • Available to general entrants and youth-led entrants

Best early-stage solutions: 

  • Awarded to solutions with highly innovative ideas which are still at an early-stage  
  • Winners receive up to $15k cash prize plus support & mentoring to help develop their innovation
  • Available to general entrants and youth-led entrants


Click here to apply

About Ashoka, HSBC, and the Green Skills Innovation Challenge 2021

Green Skills Innovation Challenge 2021

Ashoka and HSBC are collaborating on the first-of-its-kind Green Skills Innovation Challenge. This global innovation competition is open to social entrepreneurs in selected markets with ventures that equip individuals and communities with the skills needed to thrive in the transition to a green economy. 

As we look towards a post-pandemic world, we have an opportunity to shape a recovery that leverages solutions that address the climate crisis and promote health, equality, and financial wellbeing. 

This Green Economy requires a workforce equipped with robust green skills—the competencies that allow individuals to step into new green jobs or transition aspects of their current careers towards jobs that will have positive impacts on the planet. 

The Green Skills Innovation Challenge will award social entrepreneurs with up to $20,000 of grant funding from a total prize fund of $230,000. We’re looking for social entrepreneurs with ventures which recognize: 

  • The power of multi-solving. Green skills can bring about an inclusive and sustainable future, solving the climate crisis along with social problems
  • Everyone is necessary. As environmentally harmful jobs are phased out, people’s valuable skills can be repurposed towards growth sectors in the green economy
  • Young people are critical. With green skills, youth across the world will be able to jump into the green economy with confidence and thrive


Discover more opportunities from Ashoka.

Discover more opportunities from HSBC.

Key Dates and Order of Program

  • June 4, 2021 at midnight UK time: Final entry deadline
  • June 5 –June 25, 2021: Application screening and feedback
  • June 28, 2021: Semifinalists announced  
  • Early July to late July, 2021: Semifinalists

Evaluation Criteria

  • Impact: Leading entries will demonstrate how they are making a positive social impact under one of the following themes associated with Green Skills: Preparing young people for a Green Economy, connecting disadvantaged communities with Green Skills, or helping communities entrenched in environmentally harmful jobs transition to Green Jobs. Competitive applicants will be able to provide qualitative and quantitative metrics used to track progress. Initiatives should also describe the innovation’s potential impact on the future and how they are addressing the root cause of the problem.
  • Innovation: Leading entries will have an original and creative approach, which might involve inventing something new, a novel use of technology, or applying existing approaches in new ways or to a new context. We are particularly interested in models that use fresh approaches to spark mindset shifts that lead to widespread change.
  • Financial and Operational Viability: Applicants must have realistic plans for how to continue to create impact in the long-term through mobilizing resources such as funding, financing, teams, partnerships, or support networks. Entries should describe not only how they currently finance their work, but also how they plan to finance it in the future.
  • Climate changemaking: Applicants must show how they are effectively multi-solving both environmental and social issues by design. We want to see how they are helping to protect the planet whilst using the transition to a Green Economy as a chance to make the world a better place.
  • The initiative’s strategy includes an approach that empowers and multiplies changemakers, through inspiring stories, mobilizing and sharing resources or other approaches that lead to an increased number of changemakers in the world.
  • Commitment and connection: We want to see a commitment to making lasting impact. The innovators will have a vision for the future, and show they are committed to making it happen.

The innovators will be also open to connecting with others and working together to solve the problem they care about.

In addition to our evaluation criteria described above, the group of winning teams will be selected to represent the diversity of applications received and the diversity of the field. Diversity will refer to: gender, accessibility, class, ethnicity, race and age. Diversity can be showcased in the target audience of a project, its partners or the team representing it.

We are looking for social entrepreneurs who are equipping those most in need of opportunity with green skills needed to thrive, ensuring that the transition to a green economy benefits all. 

We are particularly interested in changemakers that: 

  • Help those previously excluded from economic opportunity to gain the skills needed to find employment in growth sectors of the Green Economy
  • Help communities currently entrenched in environmentally harmful jobs transition to green jobs 
  • Find innovative ways to prepare young people to find careers in, and ultimately become leaders of, the green economy.
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Emmanuella Igomu is a content writer at Camberene. She is a communication enthusiast currently studying Mass communication, where she majors in Public Relations and Advertising. Emmanuella sometimes doubles as a brand promoter/online marketer and hopes to intern in a public relations/advertising agency or online marketing department in the near future.

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