Frequently Asked Questions


UBS Social Innovators 2016 has closed for applications, but you can sign-up for information about the successful applicants and how to enter the next round of the program here.

UBS Social Innovators is UBS's signature program for identifying, selecting and supporting social enterprises with innovative solutions for some of society’s most pressing challenges.

A UBS Social Innovator is an social enterprise that develops innovative solutions to provide long-term and sustainable benefits to communities facing some of society's most pressing challenges.

UBS Social Innovators is an initiative of UBS and Society, UBS’s cross-divisional platform covering all of UBS’s activities and capabilities in sustainability and philanthropy. At UBS we believe that the private sector has a crucial role to play in tackling society's most pressing challenges. We also see an increasing demand from our clients to contribute to solving these challenges. And we believe that the growing social investment market can meet some of this demand. The UBS Social Innovators programme will play a role in helping to develop the growing social investment market by supporting social entrepreneurs who are addressing poorly met social or environmental needs, transforming the way societies work and generating positive social impact.

Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with over 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 80 countries putting their system-changing ideas into practice on a global scale. Founded by Bill Drayton in 1980, Ashoka has provided start-up financing, professional support services, and connections to a global network across the business and social sectors, and a platform for people dedicated to changing the world. Ashoka launched the field of social entrepreneurship and has activated multi-sector partners across the world who increasingly look to entrepreneurial talent and new ideas to solve social problems.

Ashoka has supported UBS in the design and implementation of UBS Social Innovators.

UBS Social Innovators is an initiative of UBS and Society – UBS's cross-divisional, umbrella platform covering all our activities and capabilities in sustainable investing and philanthropy, environmental and human rights policies that govern client and supplier relationships, managing our own environmental footprint, and our firm's community investment.

An organization which has a social or environmental purpose, but which earns all, or a large proportion, or at least a growing proportion of its funding from sales of goods or services. These social enterprises may be charities, companies, subsidiaries of a charity etc. and may be non-profit or for profit, but they are always revenue generating.

Social investment is investing with the primary motivation to support an organization to make positive social or environmental impact. As with traditional forms of investment, social investment can take many different forms including loans, equity and quasi-equity and it also includes non-financial support (e.g. capacity-building). The investor may seek market-comparable terms but will likely make concessions in terms of return, repayment, liquidity, etc. to support the investee's social or environmental mission.

UBS and Ashoka have launched a Social Investment Toolkit, as part of our commitment to develop the growing social investment market.. The Toolkit presents a series of modules that guide social entrepreneurs along the path of raising social investment and forms an integral part of the program's accelerator. It presents social entrepreneurs with key finance concepts, tips on what social investors are looking for, key items of information that social investors need in order to make an informed decision and tools and resources to produce items such as impact metrics, term sheets and financial models.