Social Innovators of the Year 2023: Creating Opportunities for Youth in Rural Nigeria and Protecting the Amazon
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship announced today 16 awardees for social innovation in 2023.
The 2023 Social Innovators of the Year includes a list of outstanding founders and chief executive officers, multinational and regional business leaders, government leaders and recognized experts.
The list includes a Nigerian entrepreneur supporting smallholder farmers increase profits and turning at-risk young people into entrepreneurs; a New York-based pioneer of “open hiring” that helps individuals facing barriers to meaningful employment by offering work with no interviews, no background checks and no resumés; and a Brazilian collective network of more than 70 organizations in 14 countries that monitors land use and change to promote the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources and fight climate change.
The awardees were selected in recognition of their innovative approach and potential for global impact by Schwab Foundation Board members. The selection committee includes Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark (2011-2015), and social innovation expert Johanna Mair, Professor of Organization, Strategy and Leadership at the Hertie School of Governance in Germany, and H.M. Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Honorary Board Member.
“The Social Innovators of the Year 2023 represent a generation of social and environmental change leaders who demonstrate that innovative models of cooperation and action across sectors are critical to making progress on the complex challenges we face,” said Hilde Schwab, Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
This year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting marks the 25th anniversary of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. In 1998 Hilde Schwab, together with her husband Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, created the foundation to support new models for social change, combining values and dedication with the best business principles to create a more just, sustainable and equitable world.
Today, the foundation has a thriving community of over 450 global social entrepreneurs that has impacted the lives of nearly 1 billion people in 190 countries. The entrepreneurs offer access to healthcare, education, housing, finance, digital skills and advocacy networks resulting in job creation economic opportunity, improved health and stability.
“Complex problems cannot be tackled by single organizations, and this year’s Schwab Foundation awardees show new models of collaborating across sectors using innovative technology, human networks and shared resources and knowledge. Many social innovators have a long history of working in collaboration with others. The ambition now is in creating systemic change through collective efforts,” said François Bonnici, Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
The 2023 Schwab Foundation Awards are hosted in a long-term partnership with the Motsepe Foundation, founded on the philosophy of “Ubuntu”, the African concept of giving and caring for your neighbour and other members of your community.
“Social entrepreneurs act as a bridge that connects ethics and values to our business principles. I believe these entrepreneurs are designing a blueprint for meaningful economies by re-imagining progress during these uncertain times,” said Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-Chair, Motsepe Foundation and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.
The 2023 awardees are awarded across four categories:
Pioneering systemic solutions for social and environmental challenges ranging from refugee family reunification and human rights to water infrastructure and financial inclusion.
Ady Beitler, CEO, Nilus (Argentina) – leads the Argentinian social enterprise that uses technology and sharing economy models to reduce food loss and waste. His organization’s mission is to alleviate hunger by lowering the cost of healthy food for those on low incomes – a goal it achieves by rescuing food that would otherwise be wasted and distributing it at discounted prices.
Aniket Doegar, CEO, Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions Private Limited (India) –has led the Indian social impact organization working on easing access to welfare for seven years. It digitized welfare schemes and provided application support to more than 120,000 people in low-income rural and urban communities.
Aref Husseini, CEO, Al Nayzak Foundation for Extra Curricular Education and Scientific Innovation (Palestine Territories) – challenging traditional teaching methods in the Palestinian education system to produce more students who are critical thinkers and who approach problem solving through research, analysis and scientific thinking.
Celina de Sola, President, Glasswing International (El Salvador) – empowers individuals and communities to address the root causes of poverty and violence through education and health programmes. Glasswing has expanded from its El Salvador base to 10 other countries and has impacted more than 1.5 million lives since 2007.
Joseph Kenner, CEO, Greyston (USA) – the New York-based pioneer of “open hiring” that helps individuals facing barriers to meaningful employment by offering work with no interviews, no background checks and no resumés. Best known for its bakery, Greyston is now expanding its reach and aims to provide open-hiring employment opportunities to 40,000 Americans by 2030.
Kola Masha, Managing Director, Babban Gona (Nigeria) – helps smallholder farmers increase profits and turns at-risk young people into entrepreneurs. Babban Gona’s unique technology platform helps farmers increase yields and aims to create millions of youth jobs, breaking a cycle of poverty and violence in rural communities.
Säbeen Haque, Executive Director, doctHERS (Pakistan) – connects female doctors to millions of under-served patients using digital technology through the innovative healthcare platform doctHERS. The online marketplace helps reintegrate women medical practitioners into the workforce and empowers marginalized communities by circumventing sociocultural barriers that can restrict access to healthcare.
Corporate Social Intrapreneurs:
Leaders within multinational or regional companies who drive the development of new products, initiatives, services, or business models that address societal and environmental challenges.
Benoît Bonello, Social Innovation Director, SUEZ Group (France) –leading the company’s inclusive business approach with the goal of delivering a positive impact on society and the environment.
Kanika Pal, South Asia Sustainability Head, Hindustan Unilever (India) –an award-winning CSR and sustainability professional with over 17 years of experience, Pal quit the corporate sector from 2015 to 2017 and founded the Solutions for Clean and Healthy Environment Foundation to influence behaviour change for a cleaner planet.
Public Social Intrapreneurs:
Leaders in the public sector, be it local or national governments or representatives of international organizations, who harness the power of social innovation and social entrepreneurship to create public good through policy, regulation, or public initiatives. The Schwab Foundation is the first of its kind to recognize public sector changemakers.
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor, Freetown City Council (Sierra Leone) – committed to transforming the city’s services, infrastructure and environment using an inclusive data-driven approach. The mayor’s three-year Transform Freetown plan details 19 concrete targets in 11 sectors covering issues ranging from waste management to improving urban planning and tackling environmental degradation.
Bushra Al Mulla, Director General, Family Care Authority of Abu Dhabi (UAE) – has been a serial intrapreneur in the Abu Dhabi government and has transformed the lives of families, children and people with disabilities through integration of public services to establish a holistic approach to families, allowing them to live as empowered citizens in the emirate.
Collective Social Innovation:
Organizations coming together to address complex problems that cannot be tackled by individual actors, leveraging pooled assets such as knowledge, innovative solutions, human capital, access to networks and communication channels.
MapBiomas (Brazil), co-led by Tasso Azevedo, Founder and General Coordinator, Julia Shimbo, Scientific Coordinator, and Marcos Rosa, Technical Coordinator – a collaborative network of more than 70 organizations in 14 countries that monitors land use and land use change to promote the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources and fight climate change.
ProjectTogether (Germany), co-led by Philipp von der Wippel, Founder and Co-CEO, and Henrike Schlottmann, Co-CEO – an innovation platform based in Germany that supports the next generation in developing ground-breaking ideas from circular economy projects to climate-positive agriculture. to supporting refugees. It has supported more than 1,000 social pioneers and built a network of over 500 volunteer coaches and 400 experts.
Punjab Education Collective (India), co-led by Khushboo Awasthi, Chief Operating Officer of ShikshaLokam, Rucha Pande, Chief Operating Officer at Mantra4Change, and Simranpreet Oberoi, Co-Founder and Leader of Sanjhi Sikhiya – a collective of four organizations working to transform the public education system of the state of Punjab and improve educational standards against global benchmarks, impacting 2.3 million students across 19,000 government schools in Punjab.
Tamarack Institute (Canada), co-led by Liz Weaver and Danya Pastuszek, Co-CEOs – develops and supports collaborative strategies to fight poverty and solve major community issues mainly in Canada. The network has grown to more than 90 regional members, local non-profit or community associations, whose work impacts 22 million Canadians, equivalent to 58% of the country’s population.
WIEGO (Global), co-led by Sally Roever, International Coordinator (UK/US), Janhavi Dave, International Coordinator of HomeNet International (India), and Lorraine Sibanda, President of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (Zimbabwe) – a global network dedicated to improving the working conditions, rights, protection, economic opportunities and voice of all the working poor, particularly women, in the informal economy.