Employment opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs

In a nutshell

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

What’s the issue?

A generation of motivated young people faces a bleak future of unemployment and social exclusion because of global economic stagnation and uncertainty. An estimated 215M people will be without work by 2018.

What’s the story?

Unilever is the world’s biggest ice cream company, with well-known brands including Wall’s, OLA, Algida and Kibon. The I’m Walls programme is designed to create jobs for people to sell ice cream and in so doing help thousands of them come out of poverty. To develop sustainable livelihoods, this new generation of micro-entrepreneurs enjoys a comprehensive training and development programme to learn the skills needed to run a small business. This includes communications and business skills, basics of cash management, as well as how to keep ice cream at the right temperature in a hot climate. The purpose of the training is to help vendors become self-sufficient micro-entrepreneurs by creating their own mobile ice cream vending businesses.

What are the outcomes and impact?

I’m Walls is currently running in 20 countries around the world, from Indonesia to Brazil. It has already employed more than 40,000 people. The same core proposition and template is tailored for each local market, from Academia Ola in Portugal and Soy Frigo in Spain to Eu Sou Kibon in Brazil and I Am Ola in South Africa.

In South Africa, there are more than 2,200 I Am Ola, micro-entrepreneurs. One of the first in the country, Gwnedoline Khutlapye, now employs more than 100 vendors in her business.

What are the future plans?

As part of our Sustainable Living Plan, the company aims to widen economic participation by improving the incomes of five million small-scale retailers in our distribution network. By 2018, the I’m Walls initiative will impact more than 60,000 people and deliver €150mn in turnover. Our ambition by 2020 is to have more 100,000 I’m Walls ice cream vendors worldwide.

In Summary

Gwendoline concludes: “There’s beauty in it. There’s poetry in it. I have blossomed, I have grown emotionally, physically, socially, spiritually, even materially. I am whole person.”

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