Duke Partners with UNICEF to Accelerate Entrepreneurship for Social Impact

Duke alumna Selwyn Rayzor discusses the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator during UNICEF’s Annual Summit in March 2019.

At UNICEF’s recent annual summit, Duke alumna Selwyn Rayzor represented the University on a panel about UNICEF’s partnerships, speaking about the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator.

The Accelerator—a partnership between Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E) and UNICEF USA—will support social impact entrepreneurs in finding and implementing solutions to the most pressing challenges facing children and youth worldwide.

Rayzor, who serves on the boards for both Duke I&E and UNICEF USA, explained the vision of the Accelerator to support innovators in generating meaningful, sustainable change. “There’s not a lack of innovative ideas,” she said. “There’s a lack of human resources and capital to really grow those ideas.”

Applications for the Accelerator’s first year will be sought and accepted this summer. The first cohort will consist of innovations addressing an issue that impacts girls worldwide: menstrual hygiene management. Innovations that create solutions for a lack of knowledge about menstruation and insufficient access to materials have the potential to reduce stigma and shame, improve school absenteeism, and impact girls’ futures.

The program will support innovators in acquiring the knowledge, tools, and networks to achieve maximum impact. Innovators will identify problems and assess solutions, then develop, build, and scale an innovation, focusing on scale and sustainability. The goal of innovations generated in the Accelerator is to enable earlier, faster, and more effective responses to situations and emergencies endangering children and youth.

In addition to investing in specific projects, the Accelerator will increase engagement in the Duke community, presenting faculty and graduate/professional students with opportunities to learn and innovate. In helping the world’s most vulnerable children, Duke and UNICEF also hope to cultivate a new generation of humanitarian leaders and scholars.

Originally published on the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship website

Image: Left, Duke alumna Selwyn Rayzor discusses the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator during UNICEF’s Annual Summit in March 2019; right, Accelerator logo