SHIFT Ventures's Jeff Cherry Receives Laudato si’ Challenge Impact Award in Vatican City


Only two individuals were recognized with the international award, inspired by Pope Francis’ challenge to work with early stage companies who are finding sustainable solutions to global problems.

Jeff Cherry, managing general partner of SHIFT Ventures and founder of the Conscious Venture Lab, has been honored with the inaugural 2019 Laudato si’ Challenge Impact Award. This international award, which recognized only two individuals, was given during a conference and ceremony in Vatican City in December. 

The Laudato si’ Challenge, inspired by Pope Francis, was launched to fund and support startups who are proactively finding sustainable solutions to global problems such as forced migration, climate change, renewable energy, clean water, affordable healthcare, transportation and more. The ultimate goal is to partner with enterprises and individuals who are making measurable and accountable community commitments that will assist one million vulnerable families by 2021.

“We wanted to honor an individual who most exemplified the principles of Laudato si', of caring for our common home and how business can be a tool for human advancement. We wanted to lift up a leader who could serve as an example to millions, a leader who leads not just with fortitude, but with tenderness. A leader who does the right thing even when it's not easy. A leader who is a friend first and who puts people above profits. Jeffrey Cherry was the first person we thought of,” said Eric Harr, founder and CEO of The Laudato si’ Challenge Foundation.

The Laudato si’ Impact Awards recognize individuals and enterprises that fulfill these five key criteria points:

  • Vision: Possessing a fearlessly bold vision for moving humanity forward.
  • Impact: Those who are relentless in their “pursuit of impact” on behalf of the lives of vulnerable people throughout the world.
  • Congruence: Aligning business and personal missions.
  • Integrity: Always doing the right thing, even when it’s hard.
  • Dignity: Focusing not just on what they do, but how they do it. Treating all people equally—in their personal lives, and particularly in business—with respect, kindness, and dignity. Serving as role models for all.

“Two years ago, I was fortunate to join this extraordinary group of people who believe that an evolved form of capitalism can change the world,” said Cherry. “Every day we are proud to work with entrepreneurs to help them understand why people matter, and why thinking differently about the purpose of business in society has the power to help us all live more fulfilled and prosperous lives. It’s an incredible honor to accept this award on behalf of SHIFT Ventures and the Conscious Venture Lab, our portfolio companies, investors, partners, and our hometown Baltimore community members who make our program stronger every year.”

The other Impact Award recipients included Ahmad Ashkar, founder and CEO of the Hult Prize Foundation, and Uulala, a financial services platform that empowers unbanked individuals.

Cherry added, “It’s been an exciting journey getting to work alongside partners who share my belief that the principles of Conscious Capitalism and stakeholder management will transform business into a more equitable practice of human cooperation. In so doing, perhaps we can all begin to realize the next iteration of capitalism as a tool that will help elevate us all.”

This month the Conscious Venture Lab celebrated the graduation of its largest cohort, which featured nine companies. Eight of the companies are owned by women or minorities. The Conscious Venture Lab is accepting applications for its sixth cohort through February 14, 2020, and up to ten companies will be selected to participate and receive up to a $100K investment. Programming will run from March to June 2020.

About SHIFT Ventures and the Conscious Venture Lab:

The Conscious Venture Lab is on a mission to uncover entrepreneurial talent wherever it might be found. In 2017, Conscious Venture Lab’s parent company, The Porter Group, joined forces with Baltimore-based SHIFT to form SHIFT Ventures to help entrepreneurs achieve increased levels of growth and sustainability. Together, the companies offer innovators and entrepreneurs new corporate partners, investors, and world-class consulting expertise.

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