Casa do Impacto’s youngest program has already arrived in London.

The dream of designing an accelerator program dedicated to youth entrepreneurship was long-standing.

We recognize that there is currently more and more interest in Impact Entrepreneurship because we see it in every edition of our ex-libris acceleration programs. Still, we also know that the entrepreneurs who come to this ecosystem are often not necessarily younger and already bring heavy professional baggage from other wanderings.

Trusting, even so, that Entrepreneurship does not choose ages and that the desire to change the world is transversal to any age, we decided to go ahead with this dream of creating opportunities for young people to enter the world of Impact through an entirely new program.

When the Amélia de Mello Foundation challenged us to co-create Impact Journey, the planets aligned, and all the possible risks were not enough for the desire we had to make it happen. In partnership with the Amélia de Mello Foundation and with the support of the Sovena Group and the José de Mello Group, we designed a program that, through scholarships and training sessions, could bring young people closer to the world of Impact through integrated products and services in four possible areas: Agribusiness, Water, Education and Prevention and Lifestyles.

During the Training phase, we had ten teams that got access to mentoring and support from professionals in different areas, direct contact with the José de Mello Group and Sovena Group, opportunities to be exposed to investors and potential clients, integration into an impact community; networking and personal development opportunities and also access to events exclusive to the Casa do Impacto Community.

It’s no spoiler to say that the three teams that won the first edition of Impact Journey were 2Gether, Circular Foods, and Nó. They also won financial support worth €5,000, tickets to the Web Summit 2023, a year’s incubation at Casa do Impacto, premium access to its impact network, and an Inspiring Journey with the London School of Economics.

All the prizes won by the winners were designed to continue the work started in the capacity-building phase and promote the construction of the (heavy) baggage that every entrepreneur carries with them.

We have seen them become neighbors of our alumni projects and integrate into the house as if they had always been here.

We invited them to get involved in the life of Casa do Impacto and to take an active part in the events we proposed to our Residents.

We watched them break new ground at the Web Summit and saw their business cards in the pockets of many of the big fish in entrepreneurship.

We accompanied the Inspiring Journey to London promoted by the London School of Economics, our partner. Everyone knows London is one of the most visited destinations this time of year. The streets we know from the movies (and Instagram) are filled with Christmas lights, and if you’re lucky (depending on your perspective), it snows.

Our Entrepreneurs didn’t necessarily go after the Christmas lights, but they couldn’t escape them (or the cold felt throughout the English capital).

The LSE Headquarters was the ideal shelter, and there was no shortage of activities to get the body and mind moving throughout the week.

The field trip was the perfect opportunity for 2Gether, Circular Foods, and Nó to study the English Impact Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. There was no shortage of opportunities to meet the Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Mentors who accompanied them during the activities, “In an international context of demand and search for innovation, it was inspiring to see how it is possible to stimulate entrepreneurship among the younger generations, especially to see the active role that educational institutions can and should play.” (Gonzalo Tardáguila Fernández, 2Gether).

The breadth of the subjects covered during the trip was a factor of great satisfaction for our delegation. It allowed us to take a macro view of entrepreneurship and look at it globally to learn that the opportunities available are not limited to a specific territory or country, as José Maria Sarmento from Circular Foods describes, “The Inspiring Journey allowed us to explore the entrepreneurial ecosystem outside our ‘habitat.’ Between training, masterclasses, and mentoring meetings, we improved our projects and expanded our network of contacts. In my case, it helped me realize that we can use other public funding options – particularly in a more international context.”

We spent time learning more about Founders’ Mental Health and Wellbeing, Human Interaction, Empathetic Leadership, and Reverse Mentoring applied to the categories in which each of the winning projects falls – 2Gether: Prevention and Lifestyles; Circular Foods: Agroindustry; Nó: Education – the theme of Corporate Relations was also explored through the sharing of experience by several LSE entrepreneurs, which put Peer Mentoring into practice and, of course, networking.

Nó’s Founder, Margarida Lehrfeld, highlights the “Empathic Leadership” workshop with Laura-Jane Silverman, Head of the LSE, and how, in the British ecosystem, mistakes are encouraged: “In Portuguese society, mistakes have a negative, almost emasculating connotation. During the workshop, LJ mentioned that at LSE, they often have meetings where they encourage students to share their mistakes and ‘failures,’ and I was extremely excited. This type of initiative promotes well-being and empathy and reduces risk aversion”.

The attention given to the theme of Mental Health was one of the topics that aroused the most interest, too “(…) the mental health session presented by Raj (Chitraj Singh, Founder and CEO of MindHug) was interesting. While it’s important to address mental health issues, it’s perhaps even more important to promote tools that act preventively and promote wellbeing, such as mindfulness.” (Maria Santos, 2Gether). This relevance aligns with the Well-being program Casa do Impacto is promoting in 2024, TARGET, which aims to create awareness and normalize the issue within our Community.

To get the whole experience of an LSE Entrepreneur, we had the privilege of visiting the Oxford High School GDST and attending the Startup Competition with which they traditionally close the semester. Our Founder and Director, Inês Sequeira, was part of the judging panel along with Lauren O’Donnell, an LSE alumni and Founder of Oatsu, and Roop Bhadury, also an LSE alumni and Founder and CEO of Enhag3d.

The farewell was in Oxford, which, as we saw, is a source of inspiration, just like in the movies, which couldn’t have made more sense when it came to saying goodbye to an Inspiring Journey.

There are even more and more entrepreneurs interested in starting projects that somehow change the world and make it more socially and environmentally sustainable. After the Impact Journey, we’re sure this will always prevail regardless of age. Casa do Impacto will keep its doors open to anyone who wants to make these projects a reality. 2Gether, Circular Foods, and Nó are already here, but the journey will continue over the next year. “In 2024, 2Gether will be incubated at Casa do Impacto, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of a community and support network with values and purposes so aligned with our own.” Maria Santos, 2Gether).

Our expectations align with those shared by Jorge Quintas, Secretary General of the Amélia de Mello Foundation, “We’re going to see how the 12-month training process goes. There is an ongoing dialogue between Casa do Impacto and companies from the José de Mello Group and the Sovena Group that will be available to collaborate with the three winning teams, so the expectations are very positive.”

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