Travelling invites us to open our minds, reduce our baggage, and enjoy new encounters and insights. The experience is like the journey of Yunel.

I am the founder of 'Yunel', a Berlin-based start-up with the mission 'to make happiness work' for positive social change. Inspired by Nobel Peace Laureates Muhammad Yunus and Nelson Mandela, I believe in the transformative power of social entrepreneurship and positive psychology. Previously, I worked as a business consultant with McKinsey & Company (2006-2014). I am a trained journalist and certified trainer in Applied Positive Psychology. Since 2015, I also serve the Karl Kübel Foundation for Children and Family as the Vice Chairperson of its supervisory body. 

Founder and Managing Director, Yunel

​2015 - present

​Since 2015 my focus is on developing Yunel, a Berlin-based start-up with the mission to make happiness work. Yunel offers a novel approach to biography for people aged 40+. Applying the science of happiness and wellbeing, we help our clients treasure significant life experiences, embrace the art and science of happiness, and prepare themselves for a future of purpose and impact.

Director for Positive Business, DGPP

​2015 - present

​In parallel, I am leading the 'Positive Business' section for the German Association of Positive Psychology (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Positive Psychology, DGPP) in Berlin. As a certified trainer I am responsible for education programs related to positive and social business.

Member of the Foundation Council, KKS

​2011 - present

In 2002, I first visited India to write about local development projects supported by the German Karl Kübel Stiftung for Children and Family (KKS). Ever since I am passionate about South Asia and its people. In 2011, KKS asked me to join its supervisory body. ​As a former journalist and business consultant, I am now supporting the foundation in its strategic and communication affairs. Since 2015, I am the Vice Chairperson of the foundation council.

Business Consultant, McKinsey & Company

​2006 - 2014

"If you want to make good in the social sector, a few years with McKinsey would not be amiss". This piece of advise, expressed by a former KKS board member, got me to McKinsey, and I loved it! After 2 years I was released from work to go for my PhD in human geography. Following my passion for South Asia and human development, I focused my research on poverty reduction through social business in Bangladesh. Subsequently, I joined McKinsey's Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice. As an Engagement Manager I developed sustainability strategies and social business solutions for public, private, and social sector clients in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. 

Journalist, dpa and ZDF  

​1998 - 1999

Right after my journalism education, I worked 6 months for the German Press Agency (dpa) and Second German Television (ZDF) in Johannesburg, South Africa. That's where I first caught the 'social business' virus. Confronted with social injustice, racism, HIV, and crime, I started to look for effective solutions. I stumbled on Ashoka, an international organization to promotes social entrepreneurship. Ashoka was founded by former McKinsey consultant Bill Drayton. 

DGPP, Certified Trainer in Positive Psychology

​2014 - 2016

During a leadership training with McKinsey in 2013, I first meet Tal Ben-Shahar, a former Harvard professor who teaches Positive Psychology. His lecture on Happiness, Wellbeing, and personal growth reminded me of my psychology studies in Hamburg and my passion for human development. Soon after, I got started on my part-time education with the German Association of Positive Psychology (DGPP) in Berlin to become a trainer in Positive Psychology. Quickly, one thing led to another: joining the dots between social business and positive psychology, the idea for Yunel was born. 

University of Cologne, Dr. rer. nat. (PhD)

​2008 - 2011

As a so-called fellow with McKinsey's Hamburg Office, I was released from work for three years to complete a PhD in Human Geography. My PhD dissertation focused on ‘Poverty Reduction through Social Business' in Bangladesh, where I joined Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus and companies such as Group Danone and Veolia Water in their effort to develop sustainable business solutions for the poor. The research was kindly supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Cusanuswerk. In 2012, the dissertation was recognized by two academic awards: Körber Foundation's national study award (Deutscher Studienpreis) and KfW Bank's Prize for Excellence in Applied Development Research.

University of Hamburg, Diplom (Masters equivalent)

​1999 - 2005

After 6 months in South Africa, with all the good and bad experiences you can have in Johannesburg, I felt a strong desire to investigate further how and why human beings sometimes make life so miserable for each other. For this reason I decided to study human geography, political sciences, and psychology at Hamburg University. Excursions and field studies led me to Perú, India, Ghana, and the Philippines. 

Dialogverlag, Journalist

​1996 - 1998

When I was 12 years old, I participated in a public reading contest and was invited into a radio show. Ever since, I wanted​ to be a journalist. As a result, I applied for journalism school right after high school. During my two-year journalism education (Volontariat) with the German Dialogverlag (Kirche + Leben, Vechta), I enjoyed internships with various editorial departments and TV stations in Hamburg and Berlin (KNA, Berliner Morgenpost, and 'Talk im Turm', SAT.1). 

Who I am

About me
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German (native)

English (fluent)

Spanish (advanced)

French (basic)

Bengali (basic)


Young Talent Award for Excellence in Applied Development Research, KfW Development Bank (2012)

National Research Award (Deutscher Studienpreis), Körber Foundation (2012)

National Research Award (Deutscher Studienpreis),

Körber Foundation (2007)

Award for Young Journalists, Hanns-Seidel-Foundation (1999)

Award for Young Journalists, Robert Bosch Foundation (1998)


Cusanuswerk (2009-2011)

National Merit Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes) (2002-2005)

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (2009)

ERASMUS (2001/2002)

Education Program for Young Journalists (JFS), Hanns-Seidel-Foundation (1999-2004)

Areas of expertise

Social entrepreneurship >> Social business 

Applied positive psychology >> Positive business

Human development >> Centered leadership


© 2017 by Kerstin Humberg



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