• Nina Wennink

ESD Global's Pitch Competition Brings Ideas to Life


“The first Violence Prevention Education Conference (VPEC 2020) was one of those events which you attend and then wonder why on earth it’s the first of its kind.


Violence is something EVERYONE gets confronted with in one form or another.


Addressing it TOGETHER, with our joined forces and ideas, is key.


Together, we stand strong and unite for peace.”


~ Nina Wennink, Program Assistant at ESD Global, co-founder of PMR Empowerment)


We are so excited to share that ESD Global is hosting its first online pitch competition. This event is being held to support new and innovative violence prevention education projects that are being launched around the globe.


This competition is for anyone involved in violence prevention education who wants to learn how to develop and present their projects or ideas to all audiences.

This competition is for anyone involved in violence prevention education who wants to learn how to develop and present their projects or ideas to all audiences, including funders and stakeholders.

Participants will have the opportunity to brainstorm and develop ideas during online ideation sessions, and have access to project building webinars and professional coaching.


So far, 32 entries have been received from 18 countries.


The three winners will be invited to speak at VPEC 2021.


Here to tell us more is Nina Wennink, pitch contest coordinator.


Welcome, Nina! Thank you so much for joining us.


Q. Please tell us about your connection to the world of violence prevention education, and why this competition is important to you.


A. Personally, I have always been looking for a way to contribute to peacebuilding in the world. I have been teaching Krav Maga and Self Defense since 2017, and got in touch with ESD Global not that long after that. I am a graduate of their Level 1 instructor training, and am in the process of completing the Master Instructor program.

Currently, I work for ESD Global as a program assistant, and simultaneously I run a coaching company with my business partner (who happens to be my mother), in which we combine self defense and non-violent communication.


Setting up and organizing projects concerning violence prevention is not an easy thing to do. It requires passion, motivation and resilience from the initiators. People involved in these projects often have to balance the work with their responsibilities of having a full-time job and taking care of their families.


On top of that, they are often met with resistance (as they often challenge dominant opinions, beliefs and the status quo in their communities) and a lack of financial resources to execute the projects.


And don’t even get me started on the emotional impact of this work.


Nevertheless, so many people are choosing every day to get up and do it anyway. They are the world’s heroes.

Nevertheless, so many people are choosing every day to get up and do it anyway. They are the world’s heroes.


This competition is a way to support, accelerate and highlight all this amazing work that is being done.


I am honored and humbled to be a part of it.


Q. How did the idea for a pitch competition come about?


A. The idea was generated by Luis Jimenez, now a project officer at ESD Global. Luis has been coaching ESD graduates in Latin America and the Caribbean on project development amongst others, and pitched his idea to Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman, ESD Global’s founder and president, as a means to offer support to a larger audience.


It was welcomed with great enthusiasm!



Q. What are the professional backgrounds of the participants? What types of entries are you looking for, and what are the criteria for a solid idea?


A. We see all types of different professional backgrounds, from ESD instructors, to social workers, to micro-bankers. Some organize projects in addition to having a full-time job, and others work for local organizations.


We are looking for entries that present new and innovative project ideas to bring violence prevention education to a local or global audience. These may involve individuals or a group of individuals forming a project team, or an organization that wants to develop and implement a new project. The projects may be in different stages of development, from ideas only to already tested projects.


I would say that the most important criteria for a solid idea are the following:


  • Know your target group (women, men, teenagers, children, LGBTQI+, etc)

  • Know the specific need/issue/problem that you want to address (look up statistics if you can)

  • Know how your current idea creates value for that group (in general, and in relation to what is currently being done to address the issue)


Q. This is so much more than a competition. It’s truly a learning experience. Please tell us more about the experience and knowledge participants will gain from the process.


A. It really is much more than a competition! The competition is simply an instrument to, among other things:


  • Create a platform where we can connect participants to a larger audience to increase their visibility and possibly interest from people who want to support and invest in their projects in different ways

  • Equip, support and encourage participants by sharing knowledge, skills and coaching to help them develop and present projects and set them up for success

  • Raise awareness on the need for violence prevention projects on a global level

  • Create a global network where participants connect amongst themselves


Q. How will the participants be able to continue working with their ideas once the competition is over?


A. Great question!

Firstly, the tools we provide during the competition will remain available after. Secondly, we hope participants will keep connecting with each other and with ESD Global on their developments and their needs.


One of our greatest assets is community building, and support amongst one another. You or I might not have all the answers to get something done, but someone else might! Chances are, many of us face very similar challenges in our project development, and I can say that from what I have seen so far, people are always very happy to help, share and support one another.


Being connected to the ESD Global Community, sharing your project developments with us and with the world, and reaching out for help when necessary is key!


Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share?


A. Yes, one last thing. Each and every idea and project is a contribution to peacebuilding and reducing violence. It can be small, big, simple, complicated, local or global, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to win a competition to make a difference. Sure, ideas and projects might need to adapt, perhaps even fail and be re-invented sometimes, but that’s just inherent to the process of project development.


You are valuable. Your ideas and projects are valuable. And you make a difference by sharing your projects with the world and joining us in the fight to prevent violence all over the world.

You are valuable. Your ideas and projects are valuable. And you make a difference by sharing your projects with the world and joining us in the fight to prevent violence all over the world.


Learn more about the pitch competition


About Nina:

Nina Wennink is an empowerment coach, Krav Maga instructor, social entrepreneur and all-rounder with an international background and a passion for people, culture, and interpersonal communication.


She has an academic background in Language & Literature and Political Science, and has a professional background in financial services, start-up management, and education. Her aim is to contribute to social change through education, and she believes that self defense should be available to every child and teenager. As an alumna of the Leadership Development Programme provided by the organization Teach for Belgium, she has kickstarted projects such as Audace Bxl, teaching ESD in high schools.


Her goal in life is to contribute to social change by enabling people locally and globally to define and stand up for what they find important, while building connections across differences (cultural, political, religious, etc) through interpersonal communication. Nina is a graduate of the 2019 ESD Global Instructor Training Program and the 2020 ESD Global Master Instructor training program.

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