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A New Ecosystem of Leaders: 40 Social Innovators Driving Change and Transforming Society in 2019

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The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship today announced 40 awardees for social innovation in 2019. The list includes start-up founders and chief executive officers, multinational and regional business leaders, government leaders and recognized experts who are working to address social and environmental issues with innovations in areas ranging from water purification to financial inclusion to combatting hate.

For more than 20 years, the Schwab Foundation has recognized social entrepreneurs as a new breed of leader – values-driven, inclusive, compassionate and entrepreneurial, developing new sustainable models for business, human development and environmental initiatives – and embedded them in the platforms of the World Economic Forum.

Now in its third decade, the Schwab Foundation has introduced three new award categories along with the established category of Social Entrepreneur of the Year: Public Social Intrapreneur, Corporate Social Intrapreneur and Social Innovation Thought Leader. These new categories recognize and support an ecosystem of social innovation to accelerate the world’s collective progress.

The awardees were selected by Schwab Foundation board members in recognition of their innovative approach and potential for global impact. These members of the board include 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.

“Social entrepreneurs are no longer working in isolation – the Schwab Foundation recognizes the champions of social innovation in the social sector, but also in business, government and academia. We see social innovation as an ecosystem of pioneering actors with a common purpose,” said Hilde Schwab, Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. “We have introduced the new award categories based on the multistakeholder model of the World Economic Forum as we endeavour for this dynamic community to build platforms for greater and more sustained change.”

“The 2019 Schwab Foundation awardees represent a new ecosystem of leaders who are driving change and shifting organizations and systems towards a more just, inclusive, sustainable future,” said François Bonnici, Head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. “Not only do they demonstrate alternative models that better serve our society and planet, but they also show that mobilizing and transforming society is possible by instilling innovation into the levers of policy, finance, and research for greater inclusion and sustainability.”

The 2019 awardees are:

Social Entrepreneurs

Founders or chief executive officers who solve a social or environmental problem, with a focus on low-income, marginalized or vulnerable populations

Jalil Allabadi (Jordan), Chief Executive Officer, Altibbi. He created a digital health platform on awareness, information and advice for the MENA region, reaching more than 200 million users.

Mehrdad Baghai (Australia), Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, High Resolves. This enterprise combats hate with education through immersive learning experiences that have engaged more than 300,000 students in Australia alone, and continues to expand globally.

Sanjay Bhatnagar (India), Chief Executive Officer, WaterHealth International. Using commercially available water purification technologies, remote monitoring and smart card systems, WaterHealth International provides affordable, safe drinking water to nearly 450 underserved communities.

Alex Eaton (USA), Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder, Sistema.bio. This clean energy and fertilizer company for smallholder famers has reached more than 36,000 people, more than half of whom are below the global extreme poverty line; and treated over 100 million tonnes of organic waste.

Mostafa Farahat (Egypt), Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Nafham. Farahat co-founded an online educational video platform for students that uses the power of the crowd to simplify and explain curriculum lessons through short videos.

Roberta Faria (Brazil) and Rodrigo Pipponzi (Brazil), Co-Founders, Editora Mol. They created a social impact publisher that develops printed materials – magazines, books, calendars, guides – at below-market prices, and directs parts of its revenue to social organizations in Brazil.

Phillip Goff (USA), Co-Founder and President, Center for Policing Equity. He founded the Center for Policing Equity to serve as a bridge between police departments and communities to alleviate problems of race and policing, resulting in 25% fewer arrests and 33% fewer use-of-force incidents.

Prema Gopalan (India), Director, Swayam Shikshan Prayog. Gopalan promotes women’s economic and social empowerment as entrepreneurs and leaders for sustainable community development, helping 145,000 women succeed in remote or ailing markets.

Lisa McLaughlin (USA), Chief Executive Officer, and Robin McIntosh (USA), Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Workit Health. Under their leadership, Workit Health provides online opioid addiction treatments, helping more than 1,300 opioid use disorder patients in two years.

Enyonam Nthabiseng Mosia (South Africa), Co-Founder and Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer, Eric Silverman (USA), Co-Founder and Chief Operating officer, and Alexandre Tourre (France), Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Easy Solar. This innovative pay-as-you-go solar distribution company in West Africa makes energy affordable for the underserved.

Kennedy Njoroge (Kenya), Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Cellulant. This enterprise provides mobile payments and digital commerce, impacting 17 million unbanked farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Christopher John Ralph Sheldrick (United Kingdom), Chief Executive Officer, what3words. what3words is a global address system that divides the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares, each allocated with a fixed and unique three-word address. It has also been adopted by NGOs, aid organizations, emergency services, delivery companies and governments to improve business efficiencies, drive growth and save lives

Joseph Thompson (Ireland), Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, AID:Tech. Thompson leads AID:Tech in deploying blockchain technology to deliver international aid, helping more than 70,000 clients.

Hla Hla Win (Myanmar), Chief Executive Officer and Founder, 360Ed. This enterprise transforms outdated 40-year-old textbooks into animated and colourful learning materials, impacting about 35,000 people in 2018.

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

Rob Acker (USA), Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce.org, Salesforce. Acker leads the social enterprise branch of Salesforce, working to make its customer relationship management (CRM) available to the non-profit, education and philanthropy sectors.

Amar Ali (United Kingdom), Chief Executive Officer, Africa Improved Foods (Royal DSM). Africa Improved Foods leverages technology to produce high-quality fortified nutritious foods from grains sourced directly from smallholder farmers.

Khalil Daoud (Lebanon), Chairman and Managing Director, LibanPost. Under Daoud’s leadership, LibanPost’s refugee initiative has impacted more than 280,000 refugees.

Salah Goss (USA), Head, Mastercard Labs for Financial Inclusion, Mastercard. Goss oversees the development of digital solutions that positively impact low-income households in Africa and other developing markets.

Pranav Kothari (India), Vice-President, Large-Scale Education Programmes (LSEP), Educational Initiatives. Under Kothari’s leadership, LSEP products have reached more than 12 million underprivileged students in India and closed bids to expand to 1,000 schools over the next three years.

Harald Nusser (Germany), Head, Novartis Social Business. Nusser and his team support global health through social business models that enable access to medicines against infectious and chronic diseases in lower-income countries. In 2018, NSB reached nearly 25 million patients with medicines and 7.9 million people with health education.

Garance Wattez-Richard (France), Head, Emerging Customers, AXA. Wattez-Richard founded AXA Emerging Customers, a business whose objective is to protect today’s and tomorrow’s middle class and close the insurance gap across emerging markets.

Public Social Intrapreneurs

Government leaders who harness the power of social innovation social entrepreneurship to create public good through policy, regulation or public initiatives

Ann Branch (Belgium), Head of Unit, European Commission, Branch is responsible for social and inclusive entrepreneurship. She leads work on implementing the European Commission’s agenda for social economy and social enterprises, including developing policy and financial instruments to promote social enterprises and enterprise opportunities for underrepresented and vulnerable groups.

Kim In-Sun (South Korea), President, Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency. Kim fosters and promotes social enterprises, providing consulting services to improve the business administration, technology, taxation and labour.

Christophe Itier (France), High Commissioner for a Social and Inclusive Economy and for Social Innovation, Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition of France. Itier coordinates the actions of French ministries to promote the field of social innovation and the social economy.

Geoff Mulgan (United Kingdom), Chief Executive, Nesta. Under Mulgan’s leadership, Nesta has launched a range of new initiatives in investment, programmes and research, and implemented new strategies to develop partnerships to promote innovation.

Maryam Uwais (Nigeria), Special Adviser on Social Investments to the Vice-President, National Social Investment and Welfare Programmes. Uwais works to provide affordable and accessible microcredit to microenterprises.

Jonathan Wong (Thailand), Chief of Technology and Innovation, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). Wong has spearheaded social innovation and social enterprise in public policy with numerous governments across the Asia-Pacific region.

Social Innovation Thought Leaders

Recognized experts and champions shaping the evolution of social innovation

Julie Battilana (France), Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Kennedy School of Government. As Founder and Chair of the Social Innovation and Change Initiative, she examines the processes by which organizations and individuals initiate and implement changes that diverge from the norm.

Marie Lisa M. Dacanay (Philippines), President, Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA). Dacanay has led pioneering work on social entrepreneurship in a developing country context and led research on reducing poverty and women’s economic leadership.

Cheryl L. Dorsey (USA), President, Echoing Green. At Echoing Green, Dorsey identifies transformational leaders through its fellowships and other innovative leadership initiatives.

Fadi Ghandour (Jordan and Lebanon), Executive Chairman, Wamda Capital. Ghandour is shifting the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa through Wamda, a funder and start-up incubator.

Filipe Santos (Portugal), Dean, Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics. His leading work across academia, practice and policy has helped to advance social entrepreneurship in Portugal and Europe.

Peter M. Senge (USA), Senior Lecturer Behavioral and Policy Sciences, MIT-Sloan School of Management. Senge’s work focuses on developing extended learning and change communities, particularly on systems thinking.

Christian Seelos (Austria), Director, Global Innovation for Impact Lab, Stanford University. Seelos develops insight that helps organizations make better strategic and operational decisions about innovation, scaling and system change.

Roberto Mangabeira Unger (Brazil), Professor, Harvard Law School. As a philosopher, politician and law professor, Mangabeira Unger’s writings span the fields of social theory, philosophy of law, economics, religion, science and philosophy.

Frances Westley (Canada), J.W. McConnell Emeritus Professor of Social Innovation, University of Waterloo. Westley specializes in the areas of social innovation, sustainable development, strategic change, visionary leadership and inter-organizational collaboration.

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EU Politics

Commission and EBRD promote innovative use of data in public procurement involving EU funds

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The European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Open Contracting Partnership are joining forces to improve the quality and transparency of public tenders co-funded by EU funds in Greece and Poland. Thanks to their support, two pilot projects will provide expertise and hands-on support to public authorities in both countries, with a focus on digital innovation.

By promoting the smart use of innovation and open data, the two pilots will help public administrations to better plan, implement and monitor the procurement of works, goods and services. This will improve the use of public resources and increase opportunities for businesses, especially for small and medium companies (SMEs). Moreover, thanks to a cooperation with local civil society organisations, this initiative will also favour transparency of public spending and stimulate citizens’ participation in the monitoring of investments with a direct impact on the community, such as investments in sustainability, local development and social inclusion. 

The two pilot projects

  • In Greece, the project will aim at consolidating and integrating all databases into a single smart public contract register. This will enable online access for bidders and citizens, improve quality of data and facilitate the use of data-driven analytical tools for monitoring the procurement process.
  • In Poland, the initiative will support Polish national and local authorities to introduce open data in public procurement and promote automated collection, standardisation, and consolidation of procurement data on all tenders.

The two pilots will run until the end of 2021 and their results will be disseminated in order to ensure a successful roll out in other Member States.

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “In the programming period 2021-2027, Cohesion policy will continue to support Member States and regions in their economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic, as well as boosting competitiveness through new investments in research and innovation, digital transition and the implementation of the European Green Deal agenda. Through the use of new technologies, national and local public authorities managing EU funds will be able to spend public money more effectively ensuring the best possible results for citizens and businesses”.

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, added: “Transparency in public procurement is essential to ensure efficiency of public investments, in line with the EU strategic policy goals aiming at a greener, digital and more resilient Europe. Public authorities can rely on the EU’s public procurement framework, tools like the electronic procurement systems and open data for an efficient use of public funds.”

The EBRD Vice-President, Pierre Heilbronn commented: “The EBRD is committed to support legal and institutional reforms aimed at ensuring that procurement laws and practices are modern, in line with international standards and can swiftly respond to emerging challenges. Together with Open Contracting Partnership, we are sharing the experience of successful civil society procurement monitoring based on open data. Our joint efforts aim to create a framework for enlisting civil society organisations to support public procurement reforms and use open data to monitor procurement.”

Background

In the context of the next long-term EU budget, more than €370 billion from Cohesion policy funds will be invested to support the digital and green transitions of the Member States. Every year, public authorities in the EU spend around 14% of GDP on public procurement, amounting to more than €1.9 trillion. Almost half of Cohesion policy funding is channelled through public procurement. The Commission has promoted a series of initiatives aimed at helping Member States to improve the way administrations and beneficiaries use public procurement for EU investments. These include the Integrity Pacts to ensure more efficient and transparent tenders and safeguarding EU taxpayers’ money. The Commission also took action to facilitate citizen engagement for better governance and effective Cohesion policy investments.

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Finance

Sri Lanka Can Build Back Better from COVID-19 and Realize Inclusive Growth

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The World Bank’s new Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Faris Hadad-Zervos, completed his first visit to Sri Lanka today. The purpose of this visit was to meet key policymakers and understand the country’s development priorities. Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, this was the Country Director’s first visit to Sri Lanka in his new role. Hadad-Zervos was joined by Chiyo Kanda, the new Country Manager for Maldives and Sri Lanka, based in Colombo.

“We appreciate the frank and productive conversations we had with government officials, members of the private sector and civil society and all those whom we met during our visits in Colombo and the Provinces. These gave us a growing understanding of the Sri Lankan sustainable development storyline and aspirations,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “The World Bank is a long-term partner for the people of Sri Lanka and is committed to help the country reach its full potential for the benefit of all its people.”

The new World Bank management team paid courtesy calls to His Excellency the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Hon. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Cabinet and State Ministers, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, and Secretaries and senior officials associated with the current World Bank program in Sri Lanka.

They also met with members of civil society from across the spectrum, private sector representatives, development partners as well as thought leaders to better understand Sri Lanka’s vast potential for sustainable growth.

The visits included the port and other facilities in the Hambantota district to observe infrastructure development in the south. At the government hospital-Halthota in Kalutara district, they learned about the government effort to improve primary health care, integrating screening and management of non-communicable diseases, and strengthen promotive and outreach services.    

 “The World Bank is mindful of the challenges the country is facing in this COVID19 era but will also keep our eye on the opportunities for sustainable recovery. We will leverage our knowledge, technical and financial resources to support Sri Lanka to build back better in the post-COVID era for inclusive and resilient growth,” said Chiyo Kanda, World Bank Country Manager for Maldives and Sri Lanka “We are in the process of updating our Systematic Country Diagnostic to deepen our understanding and inform our next Country Partnership Framework that will define the World Bank Group’s engagements with Sri Lanka for the next 4-5 years.”  

The Systematic Country Diagnostic is a thorough analysis, informed by consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, of the key challenges and opportunities in reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity in a sustainable manner.

In response to the COVID pandemic, the World Bank leveraged the existing portfolio and repurposed a significant portion to support the Government’s effort to reduce the impact of the pandemic. Providing urgently needed personal protective equipment (PPE), supporting vulnerable groups with temporary cash support, improving COVID-19 protection measures on public transport, facilitating tele-education for school children, and providing digital solutions to improve delivery of public services are among the emergency response activities already completed or ongoing. Discussions are under way to further adjust the program to adapt to government’s priorities and emerging development needs.

The current World Bank portfolio in Sri Lanka consists of 19 ongoing projects, with a total commitment value of US$3.65 billion in a variety of sectors including transport, urban, agriculture, water, education and health.

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Africa Today

First of four UN humanitarian airlifts for Ethiopia refugees lands in Khartoum

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A young Ethiopian refugee sleeps on a mattress at a transit site in Hamdayet, Sudan. © UNHCR/Olivier Jobard

An airplane loaded with humanitarian supplies for people fleeing violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the UN refugee agency (UNCHR) said on Friday, in an appeal for international assistance to cope with the growing numbers seeking shelter in Sudan.

“This morning, a plane carrying 32 tonnes of UNHCR emergency aid from our global stockpiles in Dubai landed in Khartoum”, said spokesperson Babar Baloch. “Another airlift is scheduled to leave Dubai on Monday with an additional 100 tonnes of additional relief items…In total, we plan to send four airlifts.”

Growing exodus

Since the start of fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in early November, more than 43,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan.

People have sought shelter amid reports of a heavy build-up of tanks and artillery around regional capital Mekelle, following the Ethiopian Government’s ultimatum to forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to surrender, which has reportedly expired.

On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed deep concern over the unfolding situation, before urging “the leaders of Ethiopia to do everything possible to protect civilians, uphold human rights and ensure humanitarian access for the provision of much-needed assistance”.

In a statement, the UN chief also called for the “free and safe movement of people searching for safety and assistance, regardless of their ethnic identity, across both national and international borders”.

Echoing the Secretary-General’s message, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, warned that both sides were using rhetoric that was “dangerously provocative and risks placing already vulnerable and frightened civilians in grave danger”.

One million refugees

Even before violence erupted in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region causing mass displacement, Sudan was already home to nearly one million refugees, mainly from South Sudan.

In eastern Sudan, UNHCR has continued to step up its relief effort, together with national and local partners. “Aid is being mobilized to help refugees, almost half of whom are children”, Mr. Baloch said, citing “complex logistical challenges”.

To date the agency has helped to relocate nearly 10,000 refugees to Um Rakuba site, 70 kilometres inside Sudan, as work continues to put up shelters and improve services.

Family tracing services have been established and these have already reunited many separated refugees.

Mr. Baloch noted that although humanitarian agencies continue to provide shelter and other facilities to help refugees, “more resources are required and Sudan needs international support urgently”.

Inside Tigray, concerns continue to grow for the safety of civilians in Mekelle, home to more than 500,000 people, and some 96,000 Eritrean refugees based in four camps.

No access

“Without humanitarian access, it’s very hard to say what is actually going on, on the ground but there were worrying reports that fighting was getting closer to these refugee camps”, Mr. Baloch told journalists via video link at a regular UN Geneva briefing.

Before the conflict erupted, UNHCR had “regular access to the refugees”, the UNHCR official continued, but “since the start of it, we have lost access”.

Highlighting the refugees’ reliance on humanitarian distributions, Mr. Baloch said that “according to what they have had…they will be running out of food as of Monday”.

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