We hosted our first Social Impact Hack with Facebook: here’s what happened

By Safoora Biglari. Community Manager, One Young World

All photos by Charlie Oliver.


A few weeks ago, One Young World (OYW) hosted its first ever Social Impact Hack at Facebook's Brock St offices. Facebook has been a dear partner of OYW for several years now - we have collaborated on a number of initiatives, including the Facebook Social Entrepreneurship Award and the OYW x Facebook Caucus in New York with Facebook's VP of Global Marketing Solutions, Carolyn Everson. 

Our vision is to build a better world with more responsible, effective leaders. At the heart of every threat is a failure of leadership, and with this new generation being the most informed, educated and connected generation in human history, we are fully committed to identifying, promoting and connecting the world's most impactful leaders.

The annual Summits are of course a source of immense inspiration and motivation, with hundreds of young leaders returning to their home countries to drive forward their existing initiatives or start new ones from scratch. But above all, it is most critical for us to ensure that OYW Ambassadors continue to tackle the most pressing issues affecting our world. 

Given that our Ambassador community is 9,000+ strong in 196 countries, we work very hard to provide them with programmes that tap into their passions and strengths - this is where the idea for the Social Impact Hack was born.

Facebook, the institution which made hacks a global phenomenon, was of course the ideal partner in bringing this idea into reality. With the support of Julia Ognieva and some brilliant Facebook employees on the day, the event was one of the most successful Ambassador events in OYW's history. 

On 30 June, we brought together over 70 Ambassadors and friends of the OYW community together for a near 12-hour day of solutions hacking for 3 key issues: plastic pollution, mental health and disability.

14 billion pounds of garbage, mostly plastic, is dumped in the ocean every year. 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems haven’t had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. People with disabilities are 50% less likely to have a job and twice as likely to be living in poverty.

With these facts in mind, what tangible solutions could exist to better address these issues? Many already exist, but what could we be doing better?

The challenge was simple: "As a team, come up with an impactful social impact idea that tackles one of the themes. The idea can be anything from an app, service, product, initiative, campaign, business model or other." At the end of the day, teams would have 3 minutes to pitch their initiative and 3 minutes for a Q&A session after. 

With the brilliant support from the founders of Entrepreneurial Muscle Memory, OYW Ambassador Bozhanka Vitanova and Johan Bergman, we were able to match the teams based on their passions, key skills, strengths and weaknesses with their unique framework.  

The 14 teams, who were named after our beloved OYW Counsellors, only learned of their assigned issue area and teams on the morning of the hack. 

The day kicked off with a keynote speech by Chrissy Levett, Founder and CEO of Creative Conscience, a global movement that aims to improve the communities we live and work in, helping to transform the wider world. They promote socially valuable, human centred design that enables and inspires people to change their lives and the lives of those around them for the better. 

Ed Gillespie, Co-Founder of Futerra, followed Chrissy, sharing his core philosophy of "how to take the complex, interconnected, interdependent nature of the many challenges the world faces and make common sense of them for non-specialist audiences." This is exactly what he does with Futerra, a change agency that specialises in business transformation and creative communications and campaigns. Having worked on some of the world's biggest sustainability campaigns (Unilever and SAB Miller among others), he unleashed the creative powers of the group. 

Throughout the day, teams toiled away, ideating and hacking their way through their solutions. To support them through the process, we had several brilliant mentors on hand to challenge and guide them through the creative process. A big shoutout to our mentors:

  • Paola Caceles, Head of Sustainability, Rapid Action Packaging
  • Rose Acton. COO, Adia Health
  • Alex Potter, Head of Allia's 'Serious Impact' Acclerator programme
  • Ilona Budapesti. Facebook Developer Circle Lead for Oxford, Head of Oxford Entrepreneurs and 1 Million Women To Tech
  • Yuri Schimke - Software Engineer, Facebook
  • Anna Wolf - Talent Sourcer, EMEA, Facebook
  • Johan Bergman - Co-Founder, Entrepreneurial Muscle Memory
  • Frederik Kaster - Software developer

The teams worked through lunch until 6pm, having only 30 minutes to relax after hours of straight brainstorming and strategising. One team after another was called up randomly and asked to pitch their presentations. We were joined by top-notch judges, all experts in their respective fields, who scored the teams based on the strength of their ideas, applicability to the topic, practicality, and team dynamics. Extra points were offered to those whose solutions used Facebook tools. Our judges:


  • Julia Ognieva - EMEA Platform Partnerships
  • Sian Sutherland - Co-Founder, A Plastic Planet, leading plastic-free campaign
  • Chrissy Levett - Founder & CEO of Creative Conscience
  • Ed Gillespie - Founder, Futerra
  • Jonathan Andrews - the youngest ever board memebrs of Ambitious About Autism and Stonewall. He sits on several government and parliamentary commissions
  • James Wallis - Strategy Director at GoodBrand, an impact-led innovation consultancy

The judges and teams were blown away by the diversity and range of solutions devised by teams working on the same issue, and by their sheer scalability and simplicity. As we tallied the results, we knew the winner would be victorious by only a margin of a point. We would only be naming 2 teams as winners who would land in 1st and 2nd place respectively. 


1st place: Team Markle, PlasticLess

A tool that enables you to build a plastic free shopping basket online for rewards


2nd place: Team Annan, Impact

A plugin for mobile first banking apps like Monzo and Revolut which allows you to track the impact of your spending choices on the planet

Some of the other solutions included connecting trauma victims with licensed therapists through Facebook Messenger, using the Facebook interface to accommodate those with disabilities, and a job matching service for those with special needs powered by Facebook. 

We at One Young World are doing our best to ensure the projects, whether they won or not, have an afterlife. Some of the participants jumped at the opportunity to apply for Bethnal Green Ventures' upcoming accelerator programme. The teams have been keeping in touch. Some are pursuing their solutions independently. Overall, we cannot wait to see what comes of them.

This first event was only a trial run, an opportunity for us to see what could happen when you bring together nearly 100 bright young leaders working in sustainability, management consulting, software engineering, finance, medicine, human rights, creative industries, health, policy and beyond. There is no shortage of talent out there who are desperately seeking opportunities to feel connected with issues they are passionate about. This Social Impact Hack allowed them to not only meet other likeminded, brilliant people in a city as huge as London, but to apply themselves in a way they usually can't in their day jobs. To solve the world's greatest challenges, we just simply need to match talent, expertise and creativity to come up with ways of making the world a better place. 

We can't wait for our next opportunity to improve on what we've done and scale the hack even further - locally and globally. 

A HUGE thank you to Facebook for making this dream a reality for One Young World and the organisers: Coordinating Ambassador Tala Dajani and Managing Ambassador Charlie Oliver. 

Published on 02/08/2018