Keynote by the UN World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator
written by
Nida Basbuga

Last week our SIMCies organized a keynote with the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate – the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to discuss Product Management for Social Impact with lessons from disrupting hunger. The keynote was held by WU Alumnus Bernhard Kowatsch, who is the head of the WFP Innovation Accelerator. The Accelerator  sources, supports and scales high-impact innovations to achieve Zero Hunger.  


Currently, 1 in 11 people worldwide do not have enough to eat. Natural disasters, conflict and war are one of the biggest contributors to world hunger. Having an insufficient nutrition can even have repercussions for the cognitive development of children, who are the future of our planet. WFP tackles the issue of world hunger and support social startups in order to reach Zero Hunger (Sustainable Development Goal 2) more quickly.The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on everyone and resulted in an upward trend in world hunger which needs to be reversed, so the time to innovate for social impact is now!  


During the keynote speech participants were able to learn six product management tips that should be applied by future social startups and entrepreneurs:


#1: Aim at social impact from day one by using design thinking: Innovative solutions should be inclusive from the start. Human centered design and lean start-ups allow teams to work together and address the real needs of communities.


#2: Build a strong and cohesive core team:The founding team is one of the most important aspects of a startup and can make or break it. Guidance towards a shared goal, mutual trust and cohesion will allow you to reach your goals more effectively.


#3: Get solicit honest feedback early on:Reach out to experienced mentors who will give you honest and direct feedback. Especially for social impact ventures solicit and honest feedback is crucial for your success.


#4: Build a Most Viable Product (MVP++)and consider the most vulnerable: Innovators need to find safe ways to test their MVP and do no harm, especially in connection with data privacy and information security.


#5: Don’t forget: it needs a path to sustainable funding: Financial stability and being able to sustain your organization is the backbone to guarantee continued social impact. Innovators have to make sure that their financial plan and funding model is sustainable.


#6: Integrate a pathway to scale: Scalability is key in social ventures. If you want to reach as many people as possible, then your business model should be scalable for a truly global impact.


After the keynote session students from different Master and Bachelor Programs joined the lively discussion and got to ask their most pressing questions. We thank Bernhard Kowatsch and everyone involved in the WFP Innovation Accelerator for taking the time and we look forward to future collaborations!


The time to disrupt hunger is now! So, if you have a project that might potentially solve hunger then apply to the WFP InnovationChallenge:

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Nida Basbuga

Intake 2020 and SIMConnect Social Responsbility Department Co-Head 2020/21
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