Ben & Jerry's become Green Dragons

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Ben & JerryToby Talbot/AP/Press Association Images

Do you have a brilliant idea for an ethical business? Are you just waiting for the cash to get you going? Then this could be your big opportunity, because Ben & Jerry's is launching a new competition to find socially responsible start-ups, and the winner could scoop a €10,000 cash prize.

So what do you have to do to be in with a chance of winning?

The idea

The brand may be owned by Unilever now, but its roots as a business devoted to 'Peace Love and Ice cream' have inspired an interesting competition.

"When we set-up the company in 1978, Ben and I always believed giving back to the community was as important as making great tasting ice-cream," says Ben & Jerry's co-founder Jerry Greenfield. "That's why I am really excited about this competition, to find business models with those same values."

The competition

The competition, called Join Our Core, encourages entrants to put their business ideas forward for the chance to scoop a €10,000 cash prize, a round of mentoring, and fame featuring on the side of tubs of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

The best entrants will have the chance to pitch their business idea to a panel of industry leaders in a kind of Green Dragon's Den. The judges will include Greenfield, as well as representatives from Ashoka, VSO and the Fairtrade Foundation.

The 15 finalists chosen by the panel will be taken to Africa this summer for the last stage of the programme with development gurus VSO, where they will share social business ideas, live with vanilla farmers and help local development projects in their community.

The prizes

Five overall winners will scoop themselves a €10,000 cash prize and they will be featured on a Ben & Jerry's tub.

There will also be a 'People's Choice Award', where the Join Our Core community will pick five winners who will each receive €1,000 in cash.

And in case your idea shows more enthusiasm than business acumen, there's always the chance to be one of the first 100 entrants, who apply before 15 March, which means you'll get the equivalent of a year's supply of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Just pop over to the website and enter your idea.

So what do you think? is this time for your compostable garden furniture or your solar-powered wind chimes to get the green light?