Children in Beira, Mozambique — with their new gravity water filter by Aqus, one of the finalists in the first Laudato sì Challenge in 2017 . [© Christopher Beyrooty]. The 2019 Laudato sì Challenge seeks to prevent forced displacement by empowering one million families to remain in their homes by 2021 — supporting the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals “as a human dignity narrative, that leaves no one behind.”

Third Annual Laudato sì Challenge To Focus on Preventing Forced Displacement

Laudato sì Challenge
May 17 · 5 min read

2019 Challenge Seeks to Empower One Million Families to Remain in Their Homes by 2021, Through Securing Commitments to Impact and Scaling Proven Enterprise Solutions

Final Event Set for December 3–5 in Rome

May 30, 2019 — San Francisco, Calif. — Taking up the challenges of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter Laudato sì, the third annual Laudato sì Challenge seeks to prevent forced displacement by empowering one million families to remain in their homes by 2021 — supporting the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals “as a human dignity narrative, that leaves no one behind.” By focusing on prevention, The Challenge addresses the root causes of forced displacement: poverty, persecution, education, conflict and environmental degradation, and will pursue its goal along two tracks: 1. selecting and supporting high-quality, later-stage enterprise solutions; and 2. securing new, specific and measurable “Commitments to Impact.”

“Pope Francis’ hope is to see the challenges of Laudato sì taken up in credible initiatives and actions. The Laudato sì CHALLENGE is one such bold response!” — Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

Laudato sì Challenge partners include: Aspiration, Amazon/AWS, Forbes Impact, Uulala, Refugee Investment Network, BNP Paribas, ICON and Blue Like an Orange Sustainable Capital, a new impact firm focused on the SDG’s.

“Blue like an Orange Sustainable Capital shares the vision of the Laudato sì Challenge, that a new investment paradigm must emerge after the crisis to support the sustainable development of our planet and the people living on it,” said its CEO, Bertrand Badré. “We must work together and encourage more people to join this movement to make, thanks to finance, a real difference. Joining together with the first group of partners is an important next step to continue to build a solid foundation for what comes next.”

“Think a New Thought” airs at every Laudato sì Challenge event in Rome. [© ISSIMO Story Agency]

On the first track to achieve its mission, The Laudato sì Challenge is now calling on entrepreneurs, with proven solutions to prevent forced displacement, to apply at: To demonstrate sufficient impact, traction and product market fit, applicants must have at least US$500,000 in annual revenue and/or have been in business for at least three years. Judges include: Forbes Impact Co-Founder, Brendan Doherty; Green Sands Equity CEO, Reema Khan; Blue Like an Orange Sustainable Capital CEO and former CFO of The World Bank, Bertrand Badré; and Aspect Ventures Co-Founder & Managing Director, Theresia Gouw.

“According to the UNHCR, 68.5 million people have been forced from their homes through no fault of their own; that’s one family every eight seconds,” says Eric Harr, Laudato sì Challenge Co-Founder & CEO. “The World Bank concludes that climate change could transform more than 143 million people into ‘climate migrants.’ Leaders from the private, public and faith sectors must act with solidarity, and urgency, to support bold and innovative business solutions that can scale up against this humanitarian crisis — and make people’s lives better — as we build a world that leaves no one behind.”

On the second track to achieve its mission of preventing forced displacement, The Laudato sì Challenge will secure private sector “Commitments to Impact.” For example, this from Andrei Cherny, CEO of Aspiration: “Aspiration is proud to commit to open a socially-conscious, sustainable, Pay What Is Fair-fee deposit account for 50,000 vulnerable and displaced people in America by 2021 — to help build a world that leaves no one behind. We thank the Laudato sì Challenge for recognizing the enormous power that financial institutions that are built on conscience and service can have in lifting up all those in need.”

Antoine Sire, Head of Company Engagement at BNP Paribas: “BNP Paribas has the ambition to contribute to more sustainable and better-shared growth and aims in particular to reach by 2020 a total volume of 1 million paid solidarity hours worldwide; In this framework, BNP Paribas will support one or more social enterprise winners of the Laudato sì Challenge with strategic guidance or other staff volunteering initiatives subject to accurate due diligence.

“BNP Paribas is fully committed to bring a better future. We want to be the Bank that supports innovation and solutions that build a world leaving no one behind.”

Evan Loomis, Co-Founder of ICON said: “ICON is honored to participate in The Laudato sì Challenge and is committed to creating 10 beautiful and dignified 3D-printed homes for families who are vulnerable to forced migration. We hope to see this scale from there and we call upon The Laudato sì Challenge, its partners and the Church to help us fulfill this important commitment by 2021, as we come together to ‘build a world that leaves no one behind.’”

ICON: “Building a future that leaves no one behind”

“Only when our economic and social system no longer produces even a single victim, a single person cast aside, will we be able to celebrate the feast of universal fraternity.” — His Holiness Pope Francis

Mandulis Energy — one of the finalists from the inaugural Laudato sì Challenge in 2017 — made a Commitment to Impact to the 2019 edition: ““To help fulfill The 2019 Laudato sì Challenge mission to prevent forced displacement, Mandulis Energy commits to working with a funding partner and a faith-sector partner, to help 200,000 farming families, in sub-Saharan Africa — beginning with Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana — to improve their incomes, and to access affordable, reliable and sustainable energy, so that they may remain where they want to be: their homes,” said Peter Nyeko, CEO of Mandulis.

“The thematic focus of The 2019 Laudato sì Challenge is ‘home’: a universal concept that connects our global family,” says Ahmad Ashkar, Laudato sì Challenge Co-Founder and CEO of The Hult Prize, the inspiration for The Challenge. “Helping people remain where they want to be — in their homes — is good for all ‘stakeholders’: governments, local economies and the families themselves.”

Some of the participants from The 2018 Laudato sì Challenge.

Last December in Rome, The Laudato sì Challenge convened 80 leaders, featured 10 companies tackling forced displacement and secured 12 private sector “Commitments to Impact” that could improve the lives of 12.6 million people, including a €30M commitment from Opes Fund to invest in 1,500 refugee run businesses by 2020. The Economist covered the event here. Upgrades for 2019 include: an expanded program, later-stage enterprise solutions and more strategic matchmaking between members of The Laudato sì Challenge ecosystem to better support the companies and accelerate the “Commitments to Impact.”

About The Laudato sì Challenge

Founded in 2018, The Laudato sì Challenge is inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, Laudato sì — On Care for Our Common Home. It is an initiative addressing the crisis of forced displacement by bringing together public, private and faith sector leaders. The Laudato sì Challenge is a 501(c)3 operating foundation.

Laudato sì Challenge

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The 2019 Laudato sì Challenge seeks to prevent forced displacement by empowering one million families to remain in their homes by 2021.

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