Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award 2021

Recognising entrepreneurial initiatives towards Sustainable Development Goals


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


The Award comprises:

  • A total grant of USD 700 000 for three finalists. This amount is divided among the winner (which receives up to USD 350 000) and the two runners-up and paid in several installments over one to three years
  • Non-financial support such as coaching and technical advice from Swiss Re employees and experts, tailored to the needs of the ventures
  • The Employee Award. Swiss Re employees around the world are invited to vote for their favorite Resilience Award finalist. The finalist with the most votes receives a special prize.

The winners of both the Resilience Award and the Employee Award will be announced in May 2021.


Despite real progress in improving global health and reducing mortality, according to the World Bank around 400 million people still lack access to essential healthcare services. In 2017 the Geneva Association estimated the health protection gap in emerging markets – defined as the sum of financially stressful out-of-pocket expenses and the estimated cost of medical non-treatment due to unaffordability – at USD 2.9 trillion. The Swiss Re Foundation aims to improve access to health, especially to life-saving healthcare in low-income and low-middle-income countries, and to have made basic healthcare more accessible to 1 million people by 2021.

The 2021 Resilience Award focuses on innovative solutions that increase financial access to healthcare in low-income communities. More specifically, we are looking for innovative, market-based solutions that:

  • increase the household resources available for healthcare eg:
    • savings solutions that make it easier and cheaper for people to allocate resources to healthcare
    • payment solutions that make healthcare more affordable and/or better adapted to cash-flow constraints or that boost compliance with chronic disease treatment
    • credit solutions for covering more expensive treatments
    • remittances from friends and family abroad to pay for healthcare
    • financial mechanisms to incentivise provision and uptake of preventative, comprehensive and/or quality healthcare
  • reduce health shocks that lead to poverty or economic vulnerability following a disease or an accident eg

    • microinsurance schemes that drive higher access and/or adoption of health insurance
    • other “safety nets” and risk mitigation mechanisms

For those ventures where the financial solution is part of a more comprehensive approach, they are in scope for this award if the financial solution is both a) at the core of the broader approach used and b) innovative or distinctive in some way.


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

  • Level of maturity
    Applicants are formally established, serve at least 20 000 people and have the potential to reach at least 200 000 people in the coming three years. They are also on a clear path to full or partial financial sustainability while still requiring grants (or other support) to improve their business model, to reach low-income households and/or to attain full financial sustainability.
  • Innovation focus
    Applicants display high levels of innovation in their product, service and/or delivery and likely use technology to deliver value to underserved populations at scale.
  • Mission and purpose
    Applicants have a strong social purpose while using commercial mechanisms to achieve sustainability and scale. The strongest contenders are able to demonstrate high levels of social impact and ideally to measure it in a reliable manner.
  • Target group
    Applicants focus on serving people living in poor to very poor communities, who should represent at least 30% of those served. They also have a deep understanding of their end-users’ specific circumstances (eg barriers to using financial instruments to better manage their own healthcare).
  • Geography
    Applicants may operate in any geography, rural and/or urban. At least one of the three finalists will come from the Americas.
  • Legal
    Within the legal framework of the country in which they are registered, applicants should be allowed to receive grant funding from a Swiss non-governmental organization (ie the Swiss Re Foundation).


The selection process starts with an online application. In the first round, 12 applicants will be selected and their founder(s) invited for a two-hour interview between mid-December 2020 and the end of January 2021. All these ventures will also be invited to provide a short video statement on their entrepreneurial vision and motivation. In the second round, six applicants will be selected and requested to host an on-site due diligence visit, led by representatives of the Swiss Re Foundation, between mid-February and early April 2021.

The third round will decide the three Resilience Award finalists. At least one founder from each finalist venture will be coached between mid-April and mid-May 2021 to develop and deliver a pitch. All three finalists’ teams will also prepare a brief video (or submit an existing one) about their venture, approach and achievements by the end of April 2021 to be presented at the Resilience Award ceremony.

At the ceremony, each finalist’s founder(s) will deliver their pitch to the Resilience Award Jury, which is composed of senior Swiss Re representatives and partners who will decide on the allocation of the grant money. If possible, the ceremony will take place in Miami (USA) in mid-May 2021. More information about the date and location of the award ceremony will be published in due course at www.swissrefoundation.org. Finalists will be contacted individually to arrange their travel and accommodation (the costs of which will be defrayed by the Swiss Re Foundation).


To apply for the 2021 Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award, complete the questionnaire by 8 November 2020, 24.00 CET. Only applications completed in English and submitted by this deadline will be considered.

If you have questions or need guidance, you are 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.


November 8, 2020
Program dates May 16, 2021 - May 16, 2023
OrganizerSwissRe Foundation
Africa, Antarctica Region, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Europe, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Kiribati, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Nicaragua, Northern America, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela
Sectors Financial services, Healthcare providers and services