Press Releases

Inspiring youth to be the social innovators of tomorrow

Brussels, Belgium, 30 March 2015

Fifth-annual Social Innovation Relay kicks off, bringing young minds together to find solutions to real-world issues

Junior Achievement Young Enterprise Europe(JA-YE) kicks off the fourth annual Social Innovation Relay (SIR) 30 March, supported by NN. The SIR is a global competition that challenges students to develop an innovative business concept that addresses a social need.

The SIR provides young people with the hands-on skills and entrepreneurial expertise needed to start a successful career through a combination of virtual and face-to-face mentoring by experienced executives.

Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA-YE Europe stated: “Besides a lot of creative energy, young people bring valuable skills to the table – particularly digital and social networking capabilities. Young people should be more aware of entrepreneurship as a career opportunity and know what steps to take if they want to start a business. By participating in initiatives such as the Social Innovation Relay they cast a wider net on future career opportunities – increasing their ability to own their economic future.”

Connected by cutting-edge technologies, such as HP MyRoom, a flexible online meeting room, students either meet face-to-face or virtually to develop business concepts that address a social challenge related to: education, health, environment, technology, poverty, economic development, human rights or energy.

The best 20 solutions from each country will be shortlisted. The teams are then paired with NNvolunteers acting as e-mentors who guide them as they develop their concepts. In April, a team of national jury members will assess the projects and choose the top 10 teams. Those students will then continue to develop their ideas, and the winning team from each country will compete against the other national winning teams during the global online final in July.

The Social Innovation Relay provides young people with a unique learning experience that sparks their entrepreneurial spirit and teaches them the day to day skills that are required in any job or business. It fits perfectly with the goal of NN Future Matters, our global corporate citizenship programme; helping to improve people’s financial well-being. As part of this programme we offer our talent, expertise and resources to help provide young people the relevant skills to create economic opportunities, overcome adversity and reach their dreams. We believe the SIR offers our NN colleagues in the different markets a great opportunity to interact on societal challenges and help teenagers improve their problem solving skills in a fun and rewarding way”Fleur Hudig, Head of Corporate Citizenship at NN.

Since its first year of implementation in 2010, SIR has engaged more than 500 corporate volunteer employees, impacting more than 116,000 students around the world. In 2014 a group of four secondary school students from Kenya developed the winning concept, an affordable mosquito trap to reduce the incidence of malaria in their country.

Mentorship programs such as the SIR have a proven positive impact on participants and their motivation to start real social enterprises in the future. According to Warwick University’s Centre for Education and Industry, which evaluated the impact of the SIR in 2014, 78 percent of participating students are now more confident in their ability to start a social enterprise, 86 percent are more aware of what social issues exist in their own community and 84 percent are more aware that social and business objectives can be complementary. At least ninety percent improved their communication, critical thinking and teamwork skills.


About the Junior Achievement

JA-YE Europe is Europe’s largest provider of entrepreneurship education programmes. JA-YE brings the public and private sectors together to provide young people in primary and secondary schools and early university with high-quality education programmes to teach them about enterprise, entrepreneurship, business and economics in a practical way.

About NN

NN is an insurance and investment management company active in more than 18 countries, with a strong presence in a number of European countries and Japan. Our roots lie in the Netherlands, with a rich history that stretches back 170 years. NN offers retirement services, insurance, investments and banking products. Customers range from individuals and small and medium-sized companies to large corporates and institutional investors.

For more information, please contact:

Roxana Stefanescu
Senior Project Manager, Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise Europe
+32 2 893 4438 M: +32 484 306 181

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