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Applications are now open for the SDG Innovation Accelerator for Young Professionals, a development programme designed to accelerate business innovation to activate future business leaders and changemakers and challenges them to rethink traditional business models and unlock new business opportunities.


The SDG Innovation Accelerator for Young Professionals is a unique opportunity offered to participating companies within the UN Global Compact network. It empowers the young talent within these organizations to collaborate and drive business innovation that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This intensive nine-month programme is designed to activate the potential of future business leaders and changemakers. It focuses on the development and implementation of innovative solutions through cutting-edge technologies, initiatives, and business models that contribute to your company’s sustainability objectives.

Who Can Participate

  • High-performing professionals at a participating company of the UN Global Compact
  • Participants must be 35 years or younger
  • 5 years or more of work experience
  • Interest in business model innovation, sustainability, and disruptive technologies
  • Ability to dedicate a minimum of five (5) hours a month to the Accelerator


The Young SDG Innovators Programme is designed to engage your company’s brightest and best talent in not only advancing your sustainability efforts but driving innovation and delivering tangible solutions with potential market value for your company.


  • Engage in accelerated learning opportunities including online and in-person workshops, case studies, company visits and forum discussions
  • Collaborate with other businesses on innovative projects tailored to your company and industry.
  • Build valuable relationships through coaching, mentoring and peer-to-peer networking.
  • Gain insights from leading experts in sustainability and innovation from around the world.
  • Join a global network of talented young professionals from top companies across every continent.


Call for nominations: 26 October 2023 – 31 January 2024

Programme begins: February 2024

Programme ends: September 2024


  • Apply SDG innovation to address real sustainability challenges your company is currently facing.
  • Embed the SDGs into your company’s business strategy through collaboration, innovation and knowledge sharing.
  • Enhance employee engagement and create professional development opportunities.
  • Access a network of experts from some of the world’s leading companies.
  • Receive global recognition for your company’s participation in the programme.


We will need to confirm company participation before companies are able to put forward innovators.

Companies interested in joining the programme can fill out the sign up Form or contact  Edumisa Makhonco at:



UN Global Compact Young SDG Innovators Participants in South Africa


UN Global Compact Young SDG Innovators Participants in South Africa


UN Global Compact Young SDG Innovators Participants in South Africa


What is the SDG Innovation Accelerator?

Formely known as the Young SDG Innovators Program (YSIP), the SDG Innovation Accelerator for Young Professionals is an accelerator programme designed to engage young professionals working in companies that participate in the United Nations Global Compact. The program aims to equip them with skills to advance sustainability efforts, drive innovation and deliver tangible sustainability solutions for your company.

What does the program involve?

In the program, young professional participants (“Innovators”) explore new innovations and learn from leading experts and sustainability leaders about how to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the development of breakthrough ideas, products and business models. Using the tools and training from the program, the Innovators work in teams to identify an SDG-related challenge that is relevant to their company and, over the course of the program, develop a solution to address that challenge.

What is the duration of the program?

The Young SDG Innovators Program runs in annual cycles over the course of 9 months.

What are the benefits of participating for companies?

The program offers companies the opportunity to engage their top talent at the junior and middle manager level and develop a new generation of employees that think between the intersection of corporate sustainability and innovation. Companies also benefit from the development of real business solutions that have the potential to provide value for both the company and society.

Is there an extra cost for my company to participate?

Contact your Local Network for more information on programme costs.

How can my company ensure the protection of our intellectual property if we take part in the program?

While the program is designed to facilitate cross-pollination of knowledge, new skills and ides across project teams, we recognise the importance for companies to safeguard proprietary information and ideas. Companies may wish to have all program participants sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to cover any intellectual property being used or discussed as part of the program. Should your company require NDAs to be signed, please inform your Global Compact Network South Africa in advance. It is the responsibility of your company to ensure that all NDAs are signed by the relevant parties. As supporting participants, Mentors and Experts will be required to sign confidentiality agreements to take part in the program.

Why is the program only for young professionals?

The program is designed to target employees that do not yet have senior management responsibilities and therefore have more time to dedicate to a 10-month development program.

Why do you categorise young professionals as 35 and under?

There is no set definition for the age of a young professional. Young professionals can be categorised as working individuals anywhere between the ages of 21 to 40. The age of 35 was selected as the upper age limit for the program given that many demographic and population statistical organisations recognize young adulthood at being between the ages of 18 and 34.

Where does the program take place?

As well as the South Africa, the program is currently being run by Global Compact Local Networks in the following countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Lebanon, Mexico, Turkey, UK, Ukraine and USA.

Is any company participating in the UN Global Compact eligible to take part in the program?

All companies participating in the UN Global Compact are eligible to take part in the program as long as they are based in a country whose Global Compact Local Network is participating.

How many young professionals can my company select for the program?

Companies can select up to four (4) young professionals to participate in the program per cycle.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Young SDG Innovators?

While there are no set requirements, the program is designed to target employees aged 35 and under who have a passion for sustainability, creativity; and demonstrate strong teamwork skills. Employees from business innovation, Research and Development, marketing, logistics, procurement, customer experience/service and sustainability units are encouraged to participate.

Does the Global Compact have to approve the Young SDG Innovator candidates from my company before they are selected?

No, we encourage companies to choose individuals who best fit the Innovator profile to ensure diversity among the candidate pool in terms of business unit and background. Guidance is provided to companies as to desired qualifications for Innovators.

My company is not based in a participating Network country, how can we take part in the programme?

Unfortunately, as this is a country-level programme, only companies based in countries whose Global Compact Local Network is taking part can participate. However, non-eligible companies may be able to take part in the programme as Mentors or Experts. Please refer to the information brochure for more information or contact

Can young professionals from subsidiaries of UN Global Compact participating companies take part in the program?

As long as the parent company is a UN Global Compact participating company and the subsidiary is based in a country whose Global Compact Local Network is taking part, their young professionals are eligible to participate.

What is the commitment my company has to make to take part in the program?

As a participating YSIP company, you commit to:

  • Select up to three (3) Innovators to take part in the program for the full duration of 10-months;
  • Allow Innovators the time needed for full participation in the program

Identify a Champion who will support the Innovator team internally within the company

What is the time commitment for Innovators?

Innovators are expected to attend five (5) in-person 2-day workshops throughout the course of 10 months in addition to spending approximately 2-3 hours per week on online learning and activities, and group project development.

What is the difference between Innovators, Champions, Mentors and Experts?

Innovators are the young professionals that form teams to take part in the program to develop viable SDG business solutions for their companies. Champions are senior-level executives within the same company as Innovators that ensure the teams have high-level support in their company and the SDG business solutions are aligned with the company’s strategic goals and objectives. Only companies in participating Networks can select Innovators for the program. Each Innovator team must have a designated Champion throughout the program.

Mentors and Experts are individuals outside of the Innovators’ company with knowledge of technical and relevant subjects in the program, such as sustainability, innovation, product design and breakthrough technologies. Mentors are matched to Innovator teams to shepherd the team throughout the program and provide guidance in their training and project development. Experts provide global technical advice and insight on particular issue areas or industries, when needed, to inform and support team solutions design and development.

When does the program start?

The program will kick off locally in February 2023. However, each program start date differs depending on the Global Compact Local Network launching it —so please refer to the specific Network for the program start dates.

How do I apply?

Companies interested in joining the program can contact the Local Network at Due to demand and limited spots in the program, the South African Network will need to confirm company participation before approved companies are able to put forward program participants.

Once company interest has been registered. You will be contacted by the South African Network on next steps.

My company is not able to take part in the program this year but would like to participate next year. Can we sign up now for the next round?

Yes. All you have to do is to send the Project Manager an email to register your interest for future rounds of the program.