She Breaks Barriers: Enabling an Equal World for Girls in Sport
30/03/2020 - Impact Hub

We could not agree more with the International Women’s Day 2020 campaign theme for this year’s celebrations of female achievement: “An equal world is an enabled world.”

This belief is what led to the She Breaks Barriers Acceleration Program — the 2019 support program from adidas and Impact Hub that is part of the global adidas She Breaks Barriers initiative to remove the barriers that stand between girls and women, and sport. We created a three-month program to support early-stage social start-ups, non-profits, associations and initiatives that operate in Germany and address the barriers of access, gender stereotypes and visibility faced by girls and women in sports.

Twelve coaches and 11 mentors from adidas and Impact Hub delivered 580 hours of business support to 11 ventures throughout the program. It came to a successful close in November with a final pitch event at adidas Headquarters in Herzogenaurach.

We created a three-month program to support early-stage social start-ups, non-profits, associations and initiatives that operate in Germany and address the barriers of access, gender stereotypes and visibility faced by girls and women in sports.

Three teams were awarded the top prize of €15,000 and further support, and all of the ventures made tangible progress over the three-month journey. Luc Van Hoeckel, adidas’ Director of Social Impact, says the teams breaking these barriers showed high levels of commitment and were an inspiration to one another. “It was truly amazing to get to know the changemakers behind these ventures as they were challenged to think strategically about their impact, explore new ideas and lay the foundations for more effectively supporting women and girls in sport.”

The winning changemakers

Of the 40 ventures that applied to the program, 11 were selected to take part and the top three were picked by an expert jury after the final presentation and pitch. They were: Bike Bridge, Boxgirls Berlin and Parkour Creation.

Bike Bridge is an organization that works towards “bridging social and cultural gaps through cycling.” Founded in the southwest German city of Freiburg, it aims to tackle the social isolation of female asylum seekers and refugees — and pave the way for their social integration in their new home. The program is now also active in Stuttgart, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

Boxgirls Berlin has supported the sporting and social engagement of women and girls since 2005, doing so through power, endurance and boxing training for girls, with certified trainers. They also offer workshops aimed at growing girls’ social and intercultural skills, and more than 50% of the Boxgirls have a migration background. Their inclusive sport and education work concept also includes the components “No Borders”, “Box Queers”, “Urban Hero” and “Safe in the Hood!”.

Parkour Creation is a Hamburg non-profit association operating out of a renovated freight yard hall and mobile parkour park. Since 2017, the venture has created social, cultural and inclusive projects that revolve around parkour and freerunning in Hamburg, Germany and around the world. Their “Wonderwomen” program aims to get girls and young women excited about parkour.

Supporting impact creation for girls in sport

The three jury award winners each took home €15,000 to support their project and — together with audience award winners, Ballsie and JUNO — received a 3-month membership for Impact Hubs across Germany, giving them continued support.

These winning ventures provide a fine example of the action that needs to be taken to break down the barriers facing girls and women in sport, and create an equitable world.

Gabriela Gandel, Impact Hub’s Global Executive Director, says these winning ventures provide a fine example of the action that needs to be taken to break down the barriers facing girls and women in sport, and create an equitable world. “These changemakers made considerable progress towards their goals thanks to the support they received through the She Breaks Barriers Program. The boost it gave to these ventures’ vital work and the inspiration they have provided to others truly illustrate the importance of this type of initiative for creating a real impact.”

She says it also highlights the importance of strong partnerships for tackling the biggest issues facing our society. “Only when organisations from different sectors combine their expertise and take action on the SDGs can we make progress on these problems. Combining adidas’ wealth of experience in working with sports for women with Impact Hub’s programmatic knowledge and social enterprise support expertise led to a fantastic example of how partnerships can support impact creation and accelerate the transition to equality.”

This type of program in partnership with adidas is a great example of how large organizations can combine their talents to make a broader contribution to their communities and supply chains. We have now codified the program and Impact Hub is discussing possibilities for scaling it with various internal partners at adidas.

If you are interested in partnering with Impact Hub, learn more here.