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Broadening access to vital 21st century learning

As part of its goal to positively impact one billion lives by 2030, the global EY professional services organization, wanted to broaden access to vital learning on mindsets and transferable skills needed to succeed in an era of unprecedented change. Working in collaboration with EY and SAP, Arist helped develop text-based learning on entrepreneurship and design thinking, accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. Launched in May 2021 with a goal of reaching 5,000 students, as of December 2021 more than 9,500 students have completed the courses.


Integral to fulfilling its purpose of building a better working world, the global EY professional services organization, launched EY Ripples in 2018.

Through this global program, EY people devote their time to social impact projects with the goal of positively impacting one billion lives by 2030.

Working in collaboration with clients, other like-minded organizations and non-profit partners, EY people use their skills, knowledge and experience to bring about positive change across three focus areas: supporting the next generation workforce, working with impact entrepreneurs and accelerating environmental sustainability.

The focus on supporting the next generation workforce is rooted in helping young people and underserved groups to develop the mindsets and transferable skills that better equip them to adapt and thrive in today’s transformative age. This includes an emphasis on entrepreneurial education and the development of skills, such as creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem-solving, and communication and collaboration.


The challenge and the opportunity

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a widespread shift to virtual learning. While virtual learning has helped minimize educational disruption during the pandemic, it also risks deepening educational inequality, as many students lack the technology and broadband connectivity they need to access that learning. Conscious of this, Anne Sawyer– EY Global Supporting the Next Generation Leader – was keen to explore new ways of lowering barriers to access.

Following the onset of the pandemic,Anne and her team had already switched to a virtual model for the service delivery of EY Future Skills Workshops – interactive sessions that support young people to understand the impact of new technologies and global sustainability challenges, and to explore our role as individuals in creating positive change.

When she came across Arist at a business plan competition, Anne saw the potential of text-based learning to build on this work by making vital learning on future-focused skills accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. In collaboration with SAP, and supported by Arist, work began on transitioning the future skills workshop on entrepreneurship into a text-based course on entrepreneurship.

“The EY organization has a more than 30-year history of celebrating and supporting the best and brightest entrepreneurs through programs, such as EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™” says Anne. “Coupled with  EY Ripples focus on working with impact entrepreneurs, when it came to picking a topic to pilot text-based learning, entrepreneurship felt like the obvious place to start.”


The results

The resulting course provides bite-sized learning that is provided to students via daily text messages, with explanations of an entrepreneurial framework that helps students to:

  • Understand what entrepreneurship is 
  • Learn various entrepreneurial approaches
  • Apply their learnings to real-world situations

To help bring that content to life, the course also highlights the stories of past EY Entrepreneur Of the YearTM winners –entrepreneurial enterprises that are recognized for their vision, leadership and success, and for their work to improve quality of life in their communities, countries and around the world.

When courses were originally launched, EY and SAP teams were hoping for 5,000 course completions from young people aged 18 to 22. Instead, there have been more than 9,500 – many from hard-to-reach locations in countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, and Venezuela.

“My passion is to become a woman of influence in society, who will be at the helm of affairs of my country.,”says Akagu Jennifer Ekpereamaka, a political science student at the University of Nigeria Nsukka.

“This course has taught me a lot about entrepreneurship, with examples of people who have been able to succeed. Their stories help me in wanting to do more for myself and my business.”

Off the back of such testimonials, Anne is now considering what other existing EY Future Skills Workshops might be translated into text-based courses.


“The team started out looking to provide a more accessible entry point for young people to access the subject of entrepreneurship –,” says Anne. “What we’ve discovered is a new way to engage with young people whom we might otherwise have struggled to reach and I’m excited by the possibilities.”

About EY

 EY exists to build a better working world, helping create long-term value for clients, people and society and build trust in the capital markets.

Enabled by data and technology, diverse EY teams in over 150 countries provide trust through assurance and help clients grow, transform and operate.

Working across assurance, consulting, law, strategy, tax and transactions, EY teams ask better questions to find new answers for the complex issues facing our world today.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available EY member firms do not practice law where prohibited by local laws. For more information about our organization, please visit

About EY Ripples

The global EY Ripples program aims to positively impact one billion lives by 2030. EY people, together with clients and other like-minded organizations, use their skills, knowledge and experience to bring positive change across three focus areas:supporting the next generation workforce, working with impact entrepreneurs and accelerating environmental sustainability.

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"Arist is, by far and away, the best tool we've used in the past year."

Global Learning Lead, Takeda