Tackling long-term unemployment

In a nutshell

Developing long-term employment by creating opportunities for mobile ice cream micro-entrepreneurs in Europe.

What’s the issue?

Long-term unemployment threatens to blight the prospects and job opportunities for Europe’s young people. Economic stagnation, the aftermath of the global recession, and political uncertainty across the continent, all mean that youth unemployment stands at record high levels in many European countries. Global unemployment is set to hit 215 Million globally by 2018, with 13 percent of young people without work, more than three times the level of overall adult unemployment.

What’s the story?

In response to this crisis, the ice cream teams in Spain and Portugal came together to develop a micro-entrepreneurship programme, providing sustainable employment opportunities to the unemployed across Iberia. The programme also gives young people a chance to experience their first internships and so to enhance their long-term prospects of employability.

Through its flagship ice cream brand Walls, Unilever had previously created the I’m Wall’s program. I’m Walls has helped tens of thousands of young jobless to have their own ice cream vending businesses, across developing and emerging markets. This program was adopted for Europe, providing short-term as well as long-term employment opportunities to the socially excluded. It does this through a combination of seasonal jobs and micro-entrepreneurship for the unemployed.

Support from Unilever provides the selling equipment vendors need to start their own businesses. Training covers many aspects of running a small business, including cash, stock and customer management. This inclusive business model is designed to make I’m Walls vendors self-sufficient and independent.

What are the outcomes and impact?

In the last two years, I’m Walls has been scaled to cover seven European countries: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, UK, and Poland. In that time, we have positively impacted the lives of more than 1,750 people, who now live a life of improved dignity and respect because of their employment status. They are part of the global I’m Walls initiative which makes a positive impact on the lives of 40,000 individuals.

What are the future plans?

As a flagship element of Unilever’s global Sustainable Living Plan, I’m Walls is committed to reaching 100,000 families by 2020, raising 10MM smiles each day through ice creams sold, while delivering €300MM in incremental revenue. Europe has a vision to impact 10K lives during this period.

In Summary

Raquel Silva, describes I’m Walls as a programme which “fulfilled me; helping people is a joyous experience, and too few are blessed to do that. With I’m Walls, I am in a position to help people to escape from economic hardship.”

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